Back to WhereThereBeDragons.com
Photo by Caleb Brooks

Hello from Hyderabad! (Or Maybe from New Jersey)

Hello from Hyderabad! (Or maybe from my home in Maplewood, New Jersey). This Monday, I arrived back home from my first-ever trip to India. I attended the Harvard Model United Nations (MUN) India Conference, my first and last trip as member of the All-American Model United Nations team.

At the conference, I competed against and collaborated with 151 other students to address the topic of The Impact of Globalization on Public Health. We were tasked with creating a Resolution (UN paper), that contained what we believed to be the best solutions to global health inequities such as pricing disparities, limited access to medications, and the transmission of diseases across international borders. I was awarded the title of Outstanding Delegate (2nd place-yay!) in my committee.

Prior to not leaving the hotel for three days (alas, the life of a MUN kid), I explored Hyderabad with my advisor, the six other students present, and two great tour guides. The beautiful landmarks we visited included Golconda Fort (a huge and beautiful ancient military fort), the Mecca Masjid (a gorgeous mosque that is said to be built of stones transported from Mecca), and the Charminar, which if I remember correctly means Four Minarets. It’s a beautiful structure that overlooks parts of the city. We also went to a Nizam’s Museum, which houses the personal collection of thousands of artifacts of one Nizam (former independent ruler) of Hyderabad, and saw the tombs of 7 Nizams. We also went to two local markets, where I practiced my bartering skills and my limited (but rapidly developing!) Hindi. As amazed as I was by the majesty of the architectural and aesthetic wonders around me, I was  equally, if not more fascinated by the sights and sounds of everyday Hyderabadi life that I had the honor of witnessing each day, from the beautifully decorated trucks (Vox has a great video exploration of Indian truck art), to the organized hustle and bustle of Hyderabad’s streets, to the hospitality of the people I met in my travels.

As much as I loved Hyderabad, I am excited to experience Udaipur and all of the other locations we will be exploring in our nine month journey.

I have called Maplewood home for the last nine years, but previously, I lived in Irvington, NJ and Newark, NJ. Moving to Maplewood was my first major experience of culture shock. Although I’d lived only 20 minutes away in my early childhood, I had never been a student in an integrated classroom, never had friends of different races, and had never gone camping until moving to Maplewood. I’d also never had my worldview challenged, but in Maplewood, I met peers of different religions, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds who challenged my beliefs and broadened my horizons. I am looking forward to experiencing a new kind of culture shock during BYI.

Being raised by a single mom (although I am fortunate enough to have my dad, wonderful extended family, and stepmom nearby), instilled in me a passion for feminism and social justice. One of my favorite things to do is have constructive, nuanced debates with family and friends about social and political topics. In addition to yakking, I like to read, run, bike, and mentor other students, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. I’m an only child, but I have an eclectic bunch of relatives, friends and mentors who have always helped me explore and chase after my passions. My room is plastered with posters from the Women’s March, those acquired from trips to the UN, and placards and awards from previous MUN conferences. I’ve been a vegetarian for the last five years (and a bad vegan for the last 2 ½), and worked at a local vegan restaurant from February to July of this year. I’m super excited to try all of the tasty veg food during BY.

I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone during our journey.

See you all soon!

Dani