Archive for June, 2008

Itinerary

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Check out this cool map one of the other teachers, Mary Hebert, put together of our itinerary:

Reading, Reading, Reading

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

My students will be happy, or possibly terrified, to know that I was given a lot of reading to do in time for our predeparture orientation in Austin next week.  They emailed us last week to let us know they’d be putting it in the mail, and the 5 books and 3 articles they’d like us to read arrived on Monday.  Yes, my dears, 1,000 pages of reading in 7 days or less.

In itself, that’s pretty intimidating, but I also have a stack of books that I’ve been working my way through on my own.  The new reading is interfering with my plans to reread old India- and Sri Lanka-related loves like Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. And things like buying malaria medication and full-length skirts are interfering with my reading time.

On the new Readings page, I’ve posted the full list of my recent literary occupations, including the reading list for orientation.  I’ve already read the first article about ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, which gives some fascinating historical information, and I’m currently reading In Spite of the Gods, which is really excellent, especially considering the difficulty I have with book-length nonfiction.

A picture from our party celebrating our wedding:

A little over a week ’til departure, update about Sri Lanka

Friday, June 20th, 2008

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My last day at work was last Friday, so now I have time to do more preparation for my trip this summer.

Because we will be traveling to two different countries – India and Sri Lanka – there are two different Fulbright Commissions arranging the two segments of the trip. Fulbright India has been communicative with us since we first found out we had been accepted about 3 months ago. Part of that is out of necessity, as the visa process can be lengthy, but they’ve set up a website for us where we can view information about the program, which is really helpful.

Up until this morning, we had heard nothing from the Sri Lanka commission at all, which was especially troubling given increased violence due to the ongoing civil war between the Sinhalese government and Tamil separatists (there is an easy to follow article on Wikipedia if you want to read about it), but we got an email this morning which put me more at ease. There are a number of Fulbright scholars currently in Sri Lanka, including several who are returning to Sri Lanka at the end of the summer. Although news reports are intimidating, I trust them not to put us in an unsafe situation. I have a friend who has been living in Lebanon the past couple of years, and she has told us about how very different her experience is being there, as opposed to what she sees on the news when she’s in the Bay Area. Also, one of the women going on my trip participated in a summer seminar in Egypt a few years ago, and there was unrest, but the Fulbright people were meticulous about safety and about communicating with families. And there’s always the option of leaving early if I feel unsafe.

That said, I’m getting very excited about my trip. I now have tentative itineraries for all three parts of the trip – the Pre-departure Orientation in Austin, the 4 weeks in India, and the 10 days in Sri Lanka.

The trip is part seminar and part travel, and they are really packing in one opportunity after another to learn from experts and to visit amazing places. In Austin, the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas is hosting us and providing lectures on topics like “Economics and Politics in Contemporary South Asia,” “Ramayana: The Life of an Ancient Text in Modern India,” “Post-Independence Politics and Civil War in Sri Lanka,” and an introduction to Hindi. In India, we will have an academic program in New Delhi for the first few days, and then we travel around the country taking in cultural activities as well as visiting schools and some nonprofits and NGOs. For example, our sunrise boatride on the Ganges will be paired with a visit to the Sankat Mochan Foundation, an environmental NGO working to restore the Ganges. It is a similar program in Sri Lanka, with three days in the beginning in Colombo followed by travel, including visits to the ancient capital and an elephant orphanage.

Ashley and I are hosting a big party tomorrow to celebrate our recent wedding, so I’m going to sign off now and bake a massive cake, but I will post soon about the reading I’ve been doing to prepare.


Welcome!

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I’ve been selected to participate in a summer seminar in India and Sri Lanka through the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program. I’ll be studying and traveling with a group of 14 other English and History teachers from around the country.

I am doing my best to finish up the school year at Berkeley High School, the school where I’ve been teaching since the spring of 2005, as gracefully as possible. At this point, the end of the school year is in sight enough for me to start getting excited about my trip.

I leave June 30 for a departure orientation in Austin, Texas, then we leave for Delhi on July 3.

I’ll be posting updates and pictures here as often as I can manage over the summer, so please check in.