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A woman sitting in a chair at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind) in Jaipur, India. Photo by Eliana Rothwell (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist).

Introduction

Hey guys- my name’s Peter and I’m from Brookline, Massachusetts. The town is almost entirely surrounded by Boston, meaning that Brookline is closer to downtown Boston than some neighborhoods of the city. I live near a couple of subway lines and Fenway Park is within walking distance, but I haven’t picked up a Boston accent or learned to bake beans. Before you criticize these shortcomings, know that I’m not Massachusetts-born; having lived on the seacoast of New Hampshire for the first twelve years of my life, I consider that region to be my original home.

To relax at home, my favorite activity is listening to music. From the trashiest pop songs of 2007 to Hans Zimmer soundtracks, many different genres appeal to me. If I’m not reading a random Wikipedia article or looking at Google Maps, I usually look at the posters on my walls when listening to music. Hanging above my desk and bed, there’s a map of the US with all its National Parks highlighted, a painting of the sea I found at a yard sale, and an old poster for a Van Gogh exhibit at the Met. Along with listening to music and looking at maps and paintings, I enjoy walking in a park near my house, playing board and card games, and eating cereal.

I’m really interested in public lands. Over the past two years, I’ve worked and volunteered at a couple different local National Park Service sites, including JFK’s birthplace and the Boston Harbor Islands. Being interested in both history and nature, I think that the preservation of historic and natural spaces is a worthy cause. The chance to speak French or Italian to occasional foreign visitors was an unexpected highlight of working in public lands, since I like languages.

One aspect of India that interests me is the legal system. I read an article earlier this summer about delays in Indian courts due to the enormous volume of cases. (The photo I attached is a court in Allahabad, right near Varanasi). Reading about appeals to 35-year-old cases that are still under consideration today definitely made me think about how justice is an ideal; there are often many obstacles in its attainment.

One small thing I’ve been doing to prepare myself to be in India has been learning the names of the states of India. It’s a minor step, but I think the fact that learning all the US states is American elementary school curriculum shows that knowing the names of a country’s different states or regions is at least somewhat relevant information for living in that country.

Can’t wait to meet you guys soon!

Peter Scharer
(this is a photo of me eating dessert at a restaurant)