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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).

Jane Mentzinger-Introduction

Hi guys!

My name is Jane and I’m from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, which is about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia. It’s a small, college town and I’ve lived here my entire life. I’ve spent the past two years living at my boarding school in West Chester, Pennsylvania, but it’s only a 30 minute drive from my home. I love my town and was very involved when I was younger. I was on the swim team, went to summer camp here, later becoming a counselor, and celebrated every Fourth of July with bike races, fire engine rides, and block parties. I still come home every Sunday to teach Sunday School at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church.

When I have free time, I love to hang out with friends, read, watch detective shows (Monk, White Collar, Castle, etc), and play games. My Friday nights were always spent playing board games in a classroom at school. I’m hoping I’ll have enough room to bring Bannagrams to India and I’ll be so excited if anyone wants to play with me. In high school, I played varsity basketball and lacrosse and was also involved in theater (stage managing, acting, and reviewing). I attached a photo of my sister and me (left) at a parody of Hamilton called Spamilton, possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen recently. When I’m at home, I always watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee with my family.

I love politics, religion, and working with children. In March, I was able to go on a trip to Israel and Palestine with some teachers and classmates as my “Senior Project,” which combined all three. We visited religious sites, including the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, studied the conflict in the region, and worked with children in refugee camps and schools. I also go to a Quaker school, which has taught me both about religion and social justice. I even took a class called “Business and Society” which looked at the way religion and ethics impact business and economics. I also interested in environmental issues, partly due to another religion class I took called “Social and Environmental Justice,” which examined how environmental issues and religion intersect.

One thing I’m really excited to see are all the different holidays in India. While I’ll be sad to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, it will be exciting to experience new holidays, especially in such a religiously significant place. The photo I’ve attached is of Holi, known as the “festival of colors.”

To prepare for this trip, I’ve been talking to a family friend named Shaiba. Shaiba just graduated from college with my sister, and while she grew up in our area, her extended family lives in Kashmir and she goes to visit a lot. In fact, Shaiba will be spending next year in India on a fellowship, and we might see her since she is planning on coming to Varanasi. Shaina has a ton of great suggestions and she is so passionate about the incredibly beautiful country of India. Her enthusiasm has made me even more excited to go (and just a little less nervous).

Can’t wait to meet all of you!
Jane Mentzinger