Great Expectations: Day One of Our India Practicum Projects

Dec. 30, 2013

“Individuals and society are mutually dependent and influential. Better-informed individuals will create better-informed society even as the latter influences the behavior of the former.” JV Vilanilam, Development Communication in Practice

Everyone’s development communications projects started today. Twenty students will work for two weeks at 13 organizations with mainly education, social justice and environmental protection mandates. The students, in our first day without a set schedule for everyone, headed out to meetings with the heads of our chosen organization to discuss and outline a sustainable communication project to complete and handover before the end of the India Practicum. 

This year there is an undeniable dynamism and cohesive energy between the joint group of AUP and Linnaeus students that leads to a unison and flow of events, creating an admirably productive atmosphere. This relates to our projects in that this year they effortlessly got divided up between the group. There was no tug of war or tension during the choosing process and everyone was both pleased with their assignment and happy for their peers.

Excitement and anxiety meshed together as we began our work, trying to balance great empathy for each group’s work and with wanting to help detail a concrete final project that could be beneficial to each organization in the mid- to long-term.

Kristina and I met with Chandrah and Ribhu, the founders of Wasteless, and will focus on writing one grant proposal and working on an existing fellowship proposal as well as a social media manual and some promotional material for the larger-scale launch of an educational card game called Pick-It-Up. WasteLess is a non-profit organization that works, mainly through a class curriculum developed for children aged 6 to 13, to educate people on better practices for rubbish management and disposal. The work WasteLess does had my attention from the start and then Ribhu’s energy during a presentation to our class was very appealing. The defining element that cemented my decision to work with WasteLess was a very simple yet very key paradigm shift: the idea that we have of throwing something away doesn’t exist. You cannot dispose of things, they stay on our planet and this means “throwing away” has just become a vail for putting waste out of site, or making it someone else’s problem to deal with.

I look forward to seeing how each project wraps up and to embracing the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that exists among all the students staying at Mitra Youth Hostel. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to take this class in this setting and even luckier that randomness produced this amazing group of people to live this experience with.

–Natalie Weeks

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