Long-distance education

By By Natalie Hale and By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

Seven years ago, the U began its service learning, politics and culture class, a course that involves studying India’s politics and is accompanied by a trip there over Spring Break.

The course, Politics of India, counts for three credit hours and is offered in the spring.

Students spend the beginning of the semester studying the politics, culture and current economic situation in India. Then the Wednesday before Spring Break, they leave for India to experience the real thing.

The trip is broken into three parts. The first week is spent in New Delhi meeting with religious leaders, members of India’s parliament and police to discuss the internal conflicts that India is experiencing.

The second week is spent in the village of Kotwara, where a school has been built to house 300 children who otherwise wouldn’t receive an education.

Students work with the children during this week playing games and learning from one another.

“The best part about this trip is that you get to see rural places like Kotwara, which you probably wouldn’t otherwise,” said Andrew Bennion, a graduate from the U in political science and international studies who went to India with the class.

The focus of this year’s service aspect of the trip will be to build a small clinic in Kotwara where these children can receive health care.

When they leave, the desire is to have set up a more permanent system where a local doctor would come to the clinic and care for the children’s general health issues once a week, said Ted Wilson, director of the Barbra L. and Norman C. Tanner Center for Non-violent Human Rights Advocacy and coordinator of the class.

The final week is spent experiencing the more cultural side of India-floating the Ganges River, visiting Ghandi’s memorial and visiting the sacred Hindu city of Varanasi and the Taj Mahal.

“India is an amazing country that makes you reevaluate your own perceptions and everything you know,” said Courtney McBeth, intern director at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, who took the class a few years ago.

Students who are interested in participating in the class this spring must fill out an application and submit it to the International Center by Oct. 27.

“India is the entire human experience; it wakes up every sense you have when you go there,” said Wilson.

The trip costs approximately $3,000 and includes airfare and other travel expenses.

Photo courtesy Ted Wilson

Students from a past Politics of India course visit the Taj Mahal during their trip to India in spring 2005.