Hello hello students!
My name is Uttara and I am one of three instructors who will be traveling with you very soon!
I’m sitting in my parent’s garden in Pune, India, drinking tea and ploughing through my third YA (young adult) novel in three days. I know I’m probably supposed to say this is a guilty pleasure, but it really isn’t. I’ve just arrived home after finishing my first Dragon’s semester and between preparing for our fast approaching travels and eating copious amounts of home-cooked food, there is really nothing else I would rather be doing… except finally meeting you!
As I’m getting ready to meet you all in the new year, I’m thinking of all the different things that came together and made this possible. After doing a very rigorous undergraduate liberal arts degree in New York, there were too many things I wanted to do. While in some ways that’s a wonderful situation to be in, it was also frustrating and this frustration took me to Ladakh on a cold February day in 2013. My initial plan was to volunteer at SECMOL, an amazing alternative school with a sustainable campus for a month, but I ended up staying for a year. At SECMOL, I was simultaneously a teacher, student, friend and mentor. It was incredible. Education and everything it had to offer me both personally and professionally was the space I wanted to be in. Through a very happy circumstance I ended up co-leading a trip to Ladakh the next summer and knew instantly this was something I wanted to do more of. It was so amazing to see this place I had become so accustomed to through my brilliant students’ eyes. As we continued to travel, I saw the country I had grown up in through this new lens and I loved what I saw. They laughed with me, taught me, learned with me and challenged me and I hope you will too.
Soon after this experience, I found myself on a farm in Dehradun, India, learning about sustainable agriculture in India, seed saving, and women farmer’s rights, while facilitating the everyday lives of volunteers from around the world.
Then it was time for graduate school. My recently completely Master’s in International Education Policy has taught me so much, but has left me with a million questions that I am so eager to try and find answers to- with all of you! One of the things I have questions about is ‘development’- its many definitions and how they’ve changed over time, what it looks like in a textbook and what it looks like in real life, the forces that propel it and to what end it is being propelled towards.
You are so lucky to have this wonderful opportunity to visit this country, that even though I’ve lived here almost my entire life, I still have so many questions about. You are also so brave for leaping out of your comfort zones and into this new and exciting experience. I can’t wait to meet all you wonderful girls and go on a two-week adventure with you!