Austin, Texas

I composed the following post in Austin, but I had trouble with internet connections until now, at the end of my first full day in Delhi. I’ll post first impressions of India soon…

We’ve just spent two days in Austin, Texas. UT’s South Asia Institute hosted an amazing two day orientation for us. There are 16 of us – 15 women and 1 man. It’s mostly English and History teachers, but there are also art, music and special ed teachers. The people in the group are all smart and interesting and we’re having a lot of fun together. It’s going to be an amazing trip if all the estrogen doesn’t kill us.

I’m feeling much more secure about traveling to Sri Lanka and am really looking forward to our time there. Having learned more about the current situation and talking to people who live there, I don’t think we’re at too much more risk than traveling elsewhere.

Highlights of the orientation:

  • a boatride on the river/lake
  • watching the largest urban bat colony take off from the Congress St bridge

Some things I learned during orientation:

  • My name is Samantha = Meraa naam Samantha hai.
  • There are 3 you’s in Hindi, more than the two in every other language I’ve studied – one which is most respectful, one which is familiar, ad one that is intimate. (That’s for you linguistic nerds)
  • The word “Islam” means “submission to the will of God,” much like my name, which comes from “God obey.”
  • India is known as “A Global Player with Clay Feet”
  • statistically more people in India have tv than piped water
  • abortion is illegal in Sri Lanka
  • there is an animated version of the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective by Nina Paley

We listened to an appalling radio clip from a radio show out of Philadelphia called Star and Bucwild in which the radio show host calls an Indian call center and verbally abuses the operator because she is in India, and what does that b—- know about this product he wants to buy for his little 5 year old white American daughter? I know racism exists, and I know that there is a lot of justifiable resentment about losing American jobs to people overseas, but listening to that language, that anger directed toward an individual in India who is just trying to support her own family, was really disgusting. It makes me embarrassed to be an American.

We had an excellent presentation about post-independence politics in Sri Lanka that really helped to clarify what’s going on in the country now between the government and the LTTE. I’m thinking it might be something I use for my curriculum project. I was really interested to learn about how organized the Tamil Tigers are. The Tamil Diaspora consists of about a million Tamils throughout the world, many of whom are contributing money to the LTTE, either voluntarily or under pressure. They even have a navy and an air force. The next time I post will be from India!

Jishnu Ji teaching us about Hindi

Jishnu Ji teaching us about Hindi

Me at UT

Bats in Austin

Largest urban bat colony taking off

2 Responses to “Austin, Texas”

  1. Susan Sholin Says:

    Dear Samantha, I’m glad you sent me the info to read your blog, it is quite interesting.
    As far as being embarrassed to be an American, well what that guy did is quite disgusting but there are plenty of people right here in Berkeley that do disgusting things on a daily basis including kill BHS students, mow down pedestrians and drive off, set off illegal fireworks, make anti semitic remarks and pretend they don’t hate Jews, steal others’ things, need I go on. I understand your pain but you are a great person, don’t be embarrassed by some moron’s repulsive ranting. What he is doing is not American, it is stupid and racist, not American.
    Best, Susan (Ziva’s mom)

  2. Jimmy Says:


    You probably don’t remember this, but when you were a little girl we spent several days on lake Travis when we were at swim meets and went to the bat cave. It was not your first time there. As far as being embarrased to be an American, don’t ever let that enter your mind. America has done more for other countries and people than any country in the history of the world. One or two idiots talking on the radio to get ratings and a rise out of people can never change what this country has meant to the rest of the world and done for the world. I know that people today love to talk about how bad America is, but they are wrong. The beauty of America is that these fools can say whatever they want without people rioting in the streets and burning down buildings. I love you and hope you stay safe over there. Have fun. BE CAREFUL. Do not leave your group for any period of time whatsoever. I know I sound like a big brother, that’s because I am. Talk to you soon. I love you.


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