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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
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Service Learning

Service Learning

India: Winter Term 08


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17 students traveled to east India this past winter term to engage in service with children. The class spent two weeks in the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) where they worked with the Hope Foundation to teach environmentalism and English to children from the slums and in schools. The students worked in a variety of locations in the city including the school at the Chetla Lock Gate slum, Kiddipur Slum Grammar School, various police drop-in centers for children, and a Home for Girls. Students taught the basics of conservation, pollution, the care of plants, and ecosystems to the children.

While in Kolkata, the group had the opportunity to see the many cultural riches that the city has to offer. Students visited the Victoria Memorial, Botanical Garden, New Market, Kali Temple, Mother Teresa's Home for the Dead and Dying, and the Ganges River. The group also took in a Bollywood movie or two while there.

After two weeks in Kolkata, the class took an overnight train to Bodhgaya. Located in one of the poorest provinces in the country, Bodhgaya is the home of the famous Bodhi tree under which Buddha was enlightened and the town remains an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the world. While there, the group worked with the Alice Project where they taught schoolchildren dance, singing and conservation. The Eckerd students enjoyed being able to spend the night at the school and also a tour of the nearby rural villages and the important Buddhist sites in Bodhgaya.

The class concluded with a visit to Darjeeling, high in the foothills of the Himalayas. Many Tibetan refugees and immigrants from Nepal live in Darjeeling and the town has a flavor very different from Kolkata or Bodhgaya. Students saw the sunrise over the Himalayas from Tiger Hill, rode the famous Toy Train, and visited a museum dedicated to the exploration of Mt. Everest.

Students in the class met several evenings during the month to talk about the experience. They also read two books on India, kept a journal and wrote a final paper on servant-leadership.

Brian MacHarg
Director of Service Learning

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Incredible India from Kelly Schiller on Vimeo.

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