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Technology in the Field

In just a few short weeks, we will all be meeting and beginning this incredible journey together. We hope that you are all getting as excited as we are! While you are packing and preparing for the journey, we want to address a few important points regarding the use of technology during our course.

This semester will be an amazing opportunity to enhance your ability to be present – with your homestay families, community-members, peers, instructors, and everything else that India has to offer! As such, we will provide an opportunity for you to “unplug.” Many of the best travel moments arise when we least expect them, and they are easily missed if we are cut off by headphones or a bright screen. Although modern tech devices are proliferating in urban India, many people still do not have as much access to them as we do, and our devices can unintentionally exhibit wealth disparity and draw unwanted attention. Here are some specifics from our side about what to bring and what to leave at home:

  • Devices: We strongly encourage you not to bring any “devices” – phones, tablets, laptops, mp3 players, e-readers, virtual reality headsets, self-driving cars, or any other such gadgets. If you do, we will hold on to them for the duration of the course and are not responsible for any damage or loss – we may leave such devices behind in a guest-house luggage room in Delhi, as carriage of such items is often restricted on flights to Ladakh, so please bear this risk in mind. You will have frequent opportunities to get online at internet cafes in Varanasi and other urban areas during your free time, and plenty of access to music and other media (Bollywood movie night, anyone?).
  • Cameras: Cameras are the only exception to our above “devices” policy. Some students use cameras beautifully for artistic expression, connecting with local people, and sharing their experience with friends and family back home, while others choose to go camera-free to live more in the moment. Both options are encouraged, and this one is up to you to decide. A great option is to bring an instant-film camera and give away some photos to those you meet along the journey. If you do bring a camera, we encourage you to err on the side of small and inconspicuous. Furthermore, we advise against bringing one that you wouldn’t be willing to replace, as it may well be damaged by adverse weather or bumpy roads, or lost. We will create an online photo-share at the end of the course so that everyone has plenty to see, camera or no camera!

Finally, a note for families: You may not hear from your intrepid traveler as much as you are used to, because we will often be in places where the infrastructure does not allow for individual communications, and because we encourage our students to stay fully engaged within the course as much as possible. While internet and international phone lines are available in urban areas, we have found that overly frequent calls home can interfere with a student’s engagement and lead to homesickness. We will also be off having too much fun to stop for calls and emails all the time! We hope that you can appreciate the value of this not-so-frequent communication.

If you have any questions or concerns before the course, you can always reach out to us by posting a yak. We are happy to discuss any of these points with you, and chances are that someone else is wondering about the same thing!

Can’t wait to meet you all soon!

– I-team