CCAC Honors students prepare for international study tour and adventure in India

Article by: CCAC Public Relations

CCAC Honors students - India trip 2018.jpgPITTSBURGH-A group of 16 CCAC Honors students is preparing to embark on an international study tour in India from January 2-13. During the tour, the students, accompanied by three Honors faculty members, will perform community service, attend lectures at universities, meet with government officials, visit cultural and historical sites such as Mahatma Gandhi's residence and the Taj Mahal, and much more. This will be the second time the CCAC Honors program has embarked on a study tour abroad-a trip to India in January 2016 was a transformative experience for the students, one of whom was able to return to India and meet the Dalai Lama as a result. 

The trip is designed to promote academic exposure, cultural exploration and community service while advancing the students' knowledge and understanding of India for the Honors course "Comparative Cultures & Politics of India & the United States." Each student is required to do a comparative analysis of India and the U.S., examining how the two democracies differ in terms of political and cultural diversity. The CCAC students will also interact with professors and students at Jawaharlal Nehru University in relation to their subjects. In addition, the students will complete two one-credit Honors courses: Honoring the Community Through Service, which explores servant leadership through theory and practice; and Honors International Study of Art, Architecture & Material Culture, an on-site survey of Indian art and architecture.

"Through this extraordinary, life-changing experience, our students come into contact with intellectuals, politicians, bureaucrats, activists, community leaders and even the underprivileged in India. While there, students are exposed to real-life situations and are given an opportunity to make a difference," said CCAC Professor Srujana Kanjula, who is teaching the comparative cultures course and co-leading the trip.

The Honors students, who represent all four campuses, have raised a total of $2,000 ($1,000 each) for Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) and Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute (SSMI)-two nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) they will be visiting. Tibetan Children's Village, founded by the Dalai Lama, is an integrated educational community for destitute Tibetan children in exile. Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute serves disadvantaged women and children in Delhi with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty by empowering people through education, vocational training, and better health and nutrition. 

In addition to fundraising for the NGOs, the students have completed two service projects: creation of an international fundraising brochure for SSMI that will capture the attention of English-speaking audiences; and creation of a community eye report designed to support SSMI's eye care program, as well as attract potential volunteers and secure supplies and outside funding sources.

"The students already feel connected to the NGOs they'll be visiting because of the projects they've completed," said Julia Fennell, CCAC Honors program director and English professor. "It will be a wonderful experience for them to meet the people they have been assisting and to see the impact of their good efforts. They're getting very excited."

One of the sight-seeing excursions will be an overnight train trip to Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, where they will stay in a mountain village that is home to the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan refugees. There, the students will learn about Tibetan culture and meet with representatives from the Tibetan Women's Association and visit the Tibetan Children's Village.

The students have held several fundraisers, including a talent show, a used book sale and a Festival of India celebration, to help pay for their trip, which costs $2,500 for each student. Donations are still being accepted for the NGOs in India and can be made through the CCAC Educational Foundation. When completing the donation, individuals should mark the name of the NGO they wish to give to in the "Memoriam" box on the pledge page.

Donations can also be mailed to the CCAC Educational Foundation with a notation in the "memo" line for the NGO it is to be directed to (Honors India Trip: SSMI or Honors India Trip: TCV). Checks can be sent to: Attn: Jodi Beemer, CCAC Educational Foundation, 808 Ridge Avenue, 102 Byers Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

For more information about CCAC's Honors program, visit ccac.edu/honors/.

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