Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nepal | The Last Resort: Free Falling Over the Bhote Koshi - Twice!

I had 2 short weeks to spare in between work projects in India, so I decided to join my friends in traveling to Nepal and to go bungee jumping (among other things).

A few nights before our travel from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, we met a Nepali girl who was actually born and raised in New York, and who after college went soul-searching and worked in Nepal as an adventure-writer. She told us all about her own experience bungee jumping with her mom who was a lot braver than she was.. made me more and more excited for our short trip. It was just what our group needed to boost our confidence and excitement.

hanging bridge at The Last Resort

Here's an edited video of my own experience, hoping it, too, would inspire you to go and be excited for your next adventure :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

SSS: Week 5

Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS)
A-3/302, Vishal Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow
226 010 (Uttar Pradesh) India

Initial itinerary:
12-16 June, Hardoi
2 batches of meetings with focus groups

We separated the days between 2 batches due to the lack of transportation, and for efficiency. Ideally. The first group - the "white group" /the Europeans - left on the 12th. They were delayed a lot of hours, and I was not really surprised to see them after I woke up midday when they were supposed to leave early morning. While they were gone, we were supposed to work on our reports and presentations for the final week of the project. Instead, the Malaysians, Yi Ni and Khar Khee, left for Jaipur and Agra since they weren't going to have enough time to travel before their flight back in July. America and I, on the other hand, will have more time to spare after the project and so we stayed and went shopping in the Aminabad market that Sunday.

What we didn’t know was that markets are closed on Sundays. Too bad. But still, a few shops were open, and we found some nice fabric and accessories! I bought a beautiful jewellery set for 600 INR (600 PHP). Here it is worn in the wedding we attended on the 17th:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SSS: Week 4

Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS)
A-3/302, Vishal Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow
226 010 (Uttar Pradesh) India

Initial itinerary:
7-11 June, Almora
Working with community and discussing with district authorities

This week was not very productive. We were supposed to be in Almora doing further research but some problem with our accommodations made us travel back to our office in Lucknow. Instead of in the hostel where we stayed in the first week, we're living in our office! Good for us girls since we were placed in an A/C bedroom above it..:) love. it! The boys, however,  got it bad sleeping on the floor of Dr. Trivedi's windowless office, and under a ceiling fan.

Another plus for us (girls at least) is that we finally have unlimited access to the world wide web!  Time to check our accounts, mail, etc. update our blogs and chat and skype with our friends and family we miss from home.

Due to the change of schedule, us AIESEC interns used the first 2 days to meet, discuss and make reports of our individual research collected from the past three weeks. By Wednesday, we had sent it to KC. We met to further discuss it with them, and plan for the remaining 20 days of the project.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SSS: Week 3

Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS)
A-3/302, Vishal Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow
226 010 (Uttar Pradesh) India

Initial itinerary:
29-4 June, Lakhimpur Kheri
Working with community and discussing with district authorities

5-6 June, Lakhimpur Kheri
Action with World Wildlife Funds (WWF)

Our weekend spent in Varanasi postponed our initial work plan to visit the forest and tribal villages in Lakhimpur Kheri, which is found 3-4 hours north-east of Hardoi. Instead of being there on the 29th (Saturday), we left Wednesday morning and started our work straight away.

The postponement gave us time to rest and recharge, clear our heads and finally EAT MEAT! :) 

 Chicken do Piaza in Varanasi. Our only options were to eat chicken or mutton (goat). Still meat nonetheless. I missed it so much!

Letters from home

All the other AIESEC interns are VERY envious of my LC's care package for me. AIESEC AdMU, you showed 'em who's best :)

Part of the package are letters from my friends and family back home. I read the first half on the plane from Singapore to Delhi last May 10. And, I was instructed to read the second half halfway through my internship with SSS - on June 12. Well, June 12's close to the end actually but sure, I'll wait till then.

This week was a bit boring though, so I might have read a few already. ;)). And my OC-ness acted up. I stuck the letters in the scrapbook also given to me by the AIESEC AdMU's OGX team. Woohoo!

THANK YOU AIESEC AdMU! Thank you Gab, Kat and to all my friends who wrote to me. I'll send my replies after the 12th. :)

SSS: Week 2

Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS)
A-3/302, Vishal Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow
226 010 (Uttar Pradesh) India

Initial itinerary:
23-28 May, Hardoi
Working with community and discussing with district authorities

From the town proper in Hardoi, we traveled a few hours on Sunday to the rural areas in Pali Circle, Hardoi. There were no hostels around, and so we stayed at a guest house in a sugar mill. The manager was kind enough to grant us permits. It was very convenient because it was center to all the villages we visited. We stayed there for the entire week.

Work involved a lot of meetings in about 6 or 7 villages. We had meetings in Rampur, Munder, Kharai, Pali , Sahjahanpur, and maybe in some other places I forgot to list down . 6 of us interns each chose an issue to research on for the MDG. From the list of poverty, education, health, agriculture, HIV/Aids and women empowerment,  I chose to work on education. Basically, my task was to talk to the different government and district authorities to get facts and their opinions on the current schemes  for education in their areas, its condition, and to discuss with them what actions or solutions are possible to make education more accessible to all. In addition, I had meetings with the community members to get a different perspective on the situation of the educational system, and to investigate the problems they experience in that area.

Apart from our individual tasks, we met with the collective youth of Pali, Sahlahanpur and Munder for the very aim of our project Vikaas. Our goal was to create a self-replicable model to initiate development in Pali from the grassroot level.  The first meetings were introductory and were for motivation. By Wednesday, we had set up a cricket match called Khel Se Vikaas (Development through Games) in Rampur to determine the managers to establish our Self Help Group (SHG). 

Testimonial for AIESEC Delhi

Deepansha Trivedi, VP ICX of AIESEC Delhi, requested that I write a testimonial of our experience working with SSS here in India. Here it is. My next project will be a video testimonial for my family back in AIESEC AdMU, Philippines!

Nothing prepares you for an AIESEC traineeship in India. I tried reading as much as I could on the country's history, culture and people; however, nothing informs you more of India than truly being immersed in its unique, multifaceted and bewildering beauty. It's true that the India you see in every 10 kilometers is always as different as the last. The work itself has also surpassed my expectations. With 6 other AIESEC interns from 5 different countries, I've explored tourist and remote places alike, and have gained so much knowledge from listening to the life experiences of people I've met in my work areas. Development work has never been more real to me than here. Every day is an adventure, and I love every moment of it. This kind of experience is so uniquely AIESEC, and I am truly grateful to my LC in the Philippines and my host, AIESEC Delhi, for having provided me this opportunity.

Roanna Medina
AIESEC AdMU, Philippines

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SSS: Week 1

Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS)
A-3/302, Vishal Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow
226 010 (Uttar Pradesh) India

Initial itinerary:  
16-18 May, Lucknow
Learn about the problems in Uttar Pradesh, government schemes, achievements, and interventions needed

Our first days on the job were full of discussions and meetings with people from the government, non-government and corporate sectors on topics such as the Indian economic situation, and the different schemes and projects/programs implemented for the development of Indian individuals and communities. We discussed and learned about the National Bank for Rural Development (NABARD), 
the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNAREGA) and the 73rd amendment. We had the opportunity to speak to a state specialist on education, as well as to be an audience to leaders of top corporations to discuss CSR at the headquarters of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). Whew, all that in 3 days! It indeed was overwhelming to interact with such accomplished specialists in the field of development. Moreover, to have learned so much first -hand was way more than I expected to accomplish, especially in the beginning of this internship.

AIESEC trainees with Dr. Mudhapesh Trivedi, SSS founder, Ms. Lalita Pradeep, State Consultant for education, and Ms. Hilda Ferrao, SSS Project Coordinator

Monday, June 7, 2010

दुधवा में आए विदेशी शोधार्थी बनाएगें प्रोजेक्ट

Re-posted from, a journalist's blog on the Dudhwa National Park we visited in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh.

I have no ability to read Hindi script whatsoever. So, should there be anyone reading this who can summarize and translate this for me, please do. Thank you! :)

p.s. wasn't our acting believable in this photo? 

-देवेन्द्र प्रकाश मिश्र 
अवेक इंटरनेशनल संस्थान द्वारा रूस के टूर लीडर मिस्टर पासा के नेतृत्व में पांच देशों के विद्यार्थी दुधवा टाइगर रिजर्व के भ्रमण पर है। २ जून २००१० को इनका आगमन खीरी के इस सुरम्य वन में हुआ और ये टीम ५ जून २०१० तक यहाँ के वन्य जीवों व जंगलों का अध्ययन करेंगी, इस प्रतिनिधि मंडल ने जंगल भ्रमण के दौरान थारू गांवों में हो रहे प्रकृति के सरंक्षण व संवर्धन के लिए विश्व प्रकृति निधि द्वारा किए जा रहे प्रयासो को देखा, भगवन्त नगर में  विश्व प्रकृति निधि द्वारा बायो गैस, सूर्य उर्जा, और वर्मी कम्पोस्ट खाद बनाने की ट्रेनिंग जैसे कार्यक्रमों का संचालन किया जा रहा है, कई पर्यावरण गोष्ठी आदि के आयोजनों से थारू जनजाति और जंगलों के मध्य समन्वय स्थापित करने के प्रयासों का भी इन विदेशी छात्रों ने ब्योरा लिया।
यह टीम पासा के निर्देशन व हरदोई जिले की संस्था सार्वजनिक शिक्षोन्नयन एंव संस्थान के सहयोग से इन इलाकों में प्रकृति, शिक्षा, व अन्य सामाजिक मसलों का अध्ययन कर रही है,

Sunday, June 6, 2010

SSS Itinerary

The Sunday night of our arrival, Mr. Tripathi visited us at the hostel and gave us a motivational and introductory talk on our work, the NGO (SSS), etc., and I found him very inspiring. It got me really excited to finally start my work. He each gave us a copy of our itinerary for the 2-month internship, and it was noticeable how much thought they put into planning our whole stay in Uttar Pradesh.

The SSS Itinerary for the AIESEC Project Vikaas Team

15 May, Lucknow
Welcome and Introduction

16-18 May, Lucknow
Learning about the problems in Uttar Pradesh, government schemes, achievements, and interventions needed

19-20 May, Barabanki, Sahjahanpur, Bareilly and Rampur
Working with Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

Monday, May 31, 2010

Traveling to Lucknow

May 15, 2010

We were instructed by AIESEC Delhi to take the night bus from Delhi to Lucknow, and so we did. I wasn't prepared however for what was to come. I just thought, okay, a bus ride won't be bad at all.. I didn't even think about it. It wasn't my first time to ride one anyway. I ride buses all the time.. back home. I thought wrong. Why didn't I ask around? Indians don’t like riding the bus. Even Udayan from AIESEC Delhi who accompanied us said he never takes the bus. That weekend, we were in for a uniquely Indian experience.

Friday, May 28, 2010

India | Places I've Been in Delhi

5 days to spend before our internship required us to travel out of Delhi; we wasted no time and toured the sites on my very first day.

Baha’i House of Worship (Lotus Temple), Bahapur
Beautiful, beautiful temple shaped like a lotus flower (India’s national flower). Adding awe to its physical beauty was the philosophy behind it. The Baha’i house of worship knows no caste, gender or race. The inside was very simple and solemn. There were no statues of gods or anything to symbolize a one god. It teaches that the essence of all the Messengers of God (of all religions) is one and the same. I think that if there’d be one religion that most represents equality and justice for all, as well as believing in the most pure and holy in every human being, it would be Baha’I (along with Sikhism). Below the temple, you find all the basic information about Baha’i. A more historical background is provided at the museum found just across the structure. 

Party in the Intern House

The timing of our arrival was perfect. Although it was sad to say goodbye to Ala whom we had just met, the next night was a perfect opportunity for us to meet more of the interns staying in India at her despedida (going away party). There were so many people from all over! From Latin America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia... even India. Not a single AIESEC Delhi person there though. That night I learned so many things about their year-, month-, week-long experiences working in India and with AIESEC Delhi. Too bad I didn’t use my camera that night. It would’ve been weird for the newbie taking pictures of everyone.

Arrival in Delhi

New Delhi, India
May 10, 2010

I arrived at the New Delhi International Airport via Singapore around 10pm on May 10, 2010. I got my baggage and went straight out where I waited for Ashutosh from AIESEC Delhi, his sister, and friend, Dhruv who were to pick me up. Yi Ni was with them already when we met. She had arrived at the domestic airport from Malaysia via Kalkutta only a few minutes before I did. 

New lone traveler mistake: I forgot to change my dollars at the airport!

Vocabulary #1: Hindi (and a little bit of Dutch)

I've been here exactly 18 days now and have been trying to maximize immersing myself in the Indian culture. One way is through learning their most prominent language: Hindi. Here are the ones I can now say I know and use:

On Traveling to India: Packing

Things I now know I should’ve and shouldn’t have brought:

1. An empty bag. I should’ve known better. I ALMOST brought my big empty duffel bag, but then decided to leave it last minute. Aggh! India’s a place where shopping is very easy and cheap. You can buy almost anything here. A bag is not one of those things I plan or need to buy. Guess now I have no choice.

Greetings from India

My name is Roanna Medina, 23 yrs, and a Filipino student from Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) in the Philippines. I am also a development trainee of AIESEC AdMU working on a rural development project called Vikaas with Sarvajanik Shikshonnayan Sansthan (SSS), a local NGO in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Together with 6 AIESEC trainees from 5 different countries, my objective with Vikaas is to be immersed and to conduct research in the rural communities of Uttar Pradesh for 4 weeks, and to create an action plan on the 5th for the fulfillment of sustainable programs towards the MDG of 2015.

The AIESEC team for Project Vikaas
America, Mexico
Daan, Holland
Khar Khee, Malaysia
Pasha, Slovakia
Roanna, Philippines
Tamara, Ukraine
Yi Ni, Malaysia

Traveling in one of the most backward states in the country where electricity is scarce, an added challenge for me is to account my whole experience in this blog to serve as a personal diary, and a report to my professor, friends and family back home in Manila.

India is an incredible place. Its culture and history are very rich and vibrant. There’s so much to explore. During my stay for about 5/6 months, I also will try as much as I can to see how Indian culture and language change per 10 kilometers, as they say.

As a traveler in India, AIESEC trainee and development researcher, I’ll try my best to share with you my experiences of AIESEC and Indian culture... some travel tips I learn from mistakes, personal favorite local spots, insights, etc. I’ve been here for 2 weeks now and I’ve picked up quite a few interesting things. I do hope to write as much as I can because this experience, being here in India, already is and is going to be more of one heck of an adventure!