Foreign Exchange Program

Kate Garrity - IFYE Participant - India

December 26, 2018 


Kate wrote in her introduction on our website that "I have been attending IFYE conferences with my Grandmother since age 6. ... Not only did these conferences give me the chance to spend time with my wonderful Grandmother (who was an IFYE in 1956 to Wales and England!), but these conferences are also what have allowed me to fall in love with learning more about cultures that are different than my own by actually spending time immersing myself in said culture."

Everything about different cultures fascinate me. I am very excited to continue to learn about those differences. ... I hope to become a 'daughter' of new families, and experience and participate in the normal everyday activities, rather than just being a tourist and observing the culture from an outside position.

Before India: Before going to India this fall, Kate also had the opportunity to travel for a month with her dad to visit her brother – a Peace Corps volunteer – in Cameroon. After returning home in August, she posted that, "It's amazing how much you can learn about your own culture (and yourself) when you spend time in another one, especially one that is drastically different than your own."

And then it was time for Kate to leave for India as an IFYE for three months. The following excerpts from Kate's social media will highlight some of her experiences while experiencing India as an IFYE.

September 19 - "Starting off my three months in India by exploring New Delhi & drinking copious amounts of chai." [a Indian tea made with addition of milk, sugar, and cardamon Ed.]

September 25 - "Visited Barara Village, near the city I'm staying in, where my host family owns and farms 12 acres of land (the maximum amount of land you can own in India). On that 12 acres they produce millet, corn, guava, California grapefruit, eggplant, lemon, wheat, sugar cane, potatoes and more. They also have a fish farm (and water buffalo, cattle and goats!) in the village."

October 18 - "I go for a walk at least once a day in a nearby park; within the first 5 or so minutes of each walk I have at least one of the neighborhood kids come out to talk with me, usually followed by a few more in the next couple of minutes. They love to ask questions about America and to answer my questions about India. Their English skills amaze me. They’ve taught me how to play cricket (sort of) and they ... [are so much better than me Ed.] when I play soccer with them.

I went with my host family to a neighborhood birthday party which was a celebration bigger than most American wed-dings. When I told them that they said that I need to make it back to India for a wedding and then I will really be surprised (so I've heard!).

AND I was able to spend a day with my first ever friend (how crazy is it that out of all places we get together it's India?!). Hunter and her friend Justin came to my host family's house for lunch and then my host brother and uncle took us on a tour of the nearby village.So thankful for all of the experiences I've had so far and I can't wait to see what the next two months bring."

"Today, I celebrated the ninth day of Navaratri with my host family. This festival lasts ten days and nine nights. [October 10-18, 2018 Ed.] On each of [the] days, a different goddess is worshiped. On either the eighth or ninth day, it is custom[ary] that wealthier families will feed 9 girls and 1 boy from a lower caste.

My host mother made the kids halwa (a sweet grain dish made with what we call durum wheat flour, ghee [clarified butter] and sugar), black chana (black chickpeas) and puri(a deep-fried bread). The kids will also be given some sort of treat or snack and a small amount of money. The children go from house to house receiving these things, so they bring a big bag with them to put any leftover food in and to carry their treats and the money given to them. The kids kept asking to have their pictures taken and then would run to me to see how the picture turned out..."

November 7 - It's Diwali in India today!!! Diwali, Deepavali or Dipavali is the Hindu festival of lights which is celebrated every autumn in the northern hemisphere. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance."

November 10 - "There have been FOUR mass shootings [in the USA Ed.] in the last TWO months that I’ve been in India. They each have made international news, meaning they come up as topic of discussion when I meet someone new and they discover I'm from America. No one understands why they continue to happen. No one understands why it seems we sit back and let them happen without acting to change our laws. I don't get it either, and I don’t have a good answer to their questions. Hearing of each of these shootings, as well as the countless ones before these, has made me an equal mix of sad/mad."

November 13 - "... at Himalayan Orchard. Learned how to make marmalade, picked rose hips for jam, cut flowers and herbs for tea, danced and sang around a fire for Diwali, saw some of the most mesmerizing views of my life, and last but not least, got to know an amazing family. I can't wait to visit again some day!"

November 22 - (at Punjab region) - "Wishing I was eating turkey with my fam[ily] today, but dancing with the village locals will have to do. SOO thankful for this experience. India is a beautiful country with some of the best people. If this trip has taught me anything, it's to be extremely grateful and aware of the privilege that I was born into. My time in India has inspired me, more than ever, to work toward helping those without that privilege

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!"

November 25 -  With Harrie Singh eating gol gappay. Gol gappa (also known as pani puri) is a popular bite-size chaat(savory snack) consisting of a hollow, crispy-fried puffed ball that is filled with potato, chickpeas, onions, spices, and flavored water, usually tamarind or mint, and popped into one's mouth whole.

November 27 - Chandigarh "About 30% of the jewelry Indian brides wear...gotta have a strong neck 'cause this stuff is HEAVY."

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