As the smell of burning trash wafted by, Travis Nesbitt, Emily Silver and 12 Archer students got off the plane in New Delhi, India, and already knew they had entered an entirely new world. From Nov. 16-28, the India Archer Abroad trip was an opportunity for students to experience new things and expand their horizons.
Everyone left LAX Airport “with anticipation and preparation,” Nesbitt wrote on the Archer Yak-Yak Board, a blog page created to follow the group and update everyone at home. The group embarked on the trip with curiosity and open minds — only Ava Mandelbaum ’15 and Sofia Garrick ’16 had been to India before with Archer.
Silver said that the first morning still felt familiar, despite the area being “a lot greener than [she] had expected.”
“The scene of the guest house wasn’t that different,” she said, “I think we all felt like ‘Oh okay, we can do this.'”
It was only once they immersed themselves into Indian culture that the feeling of familiarity changed.
Silver said, “When we went out into Old Delhi, we went on rickshaws in Spice Market, and we really were like: ‘we’re in a totally different world.'” The people were “friendly and really, really colorful,” Silver said.
Madison Florian ’15 said that the food was “new and interesting, but delicious.”
On their third full day, the Archer girls got to meet the girls they were paired up to work with — or sisters, as they called them — at Pardada Pardadi Educational Society, an organization that employs and educates women and girls in rural India.
“Many of us had to push ourselves to finish the food in order to respect the school and the girls,” wrote Ava Mandelbaum ’15.
The PPES girls were eager to integrate the Archer students into the Indian lifestyle. Elizabeth Johnson, one of the trip instructors, said on Yak-Yak board, “It was a beautiful greeting and our girls learned Hindi basics from their Indian peers, including ‘What is your name?’, ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘My name is….’”
The Archer girls saw differences between themselves and their Indian sisters. Rather than having those differences be obstacles between the two groups, Archer students used those differences to learn something new.
Mandelbaum ’15 said,”I began to build new friendships and step outside of [my] comfort zone in the village today” on the Yak-Yak Board.
After their time at the school, the group traveled eight hours to the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashram in Rishikesh, where they learned even more new practices.
Kimia Khatibi ’16 wrote that she was, “excited to see what we discover within ourselves and what else we can observe about this beautiful country.”
The group spent two days at the Ashram where they participated in meditation sessions and breathing classes called Pranayam and yoga.
By the end of the trip, the girls felt like they had grasped the once so foreign culture.
On the final day, Kimia Khatibi ’16 wrote, “The culture and systems of the streets tracking back to the crazy and amazing rickshaw ride, the interactions and connections strongly made with the girls at Pardada, and the calm and patience learned from our time meditating and reflecting at the Ashram will last and hopefully be integrated into our experiences at home.”
See below for an overview of the itinerary and a photo gallery of images taken by Lindsay Cayton ’16 during the trip.