Students Travel to India to Work for Children's Rights
Summer service-learning project extends sense of global citizenship
May 03, 2007
— In keeping with its long-standing commitments to Non Sibi and global citizenship, Phillips Academy will send six students and a faculty member to Mumbai, India to work in partnership with an Indian school on children’s rights projects. Appropriately, the three-week summer service-learning project is called Niswarth, which means non sibi in Hindi.
The students, working with counterparts from the Udayachal School in Vikhroli—a northeast suburb of Mumbai—will study the status of children’s rights in India and work with two prominent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Mumbai to learn about complex issues related to poverty, primary education, legal services, and basic healthcare for children in urban settings. They leave for India on June 9th.
Raj Mundra, assistant dean of the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) and instructor in biology, will accompany the students with the new Community Service teaching fellow, Alana Rush. Mundra—along with Community Service Director Chad Green and Pheroza Godrej of Mumbai, parent of Navroze Godrej ’01—was responsible for developing the original concept for the program several years ago. Mundra said last year’s trip helped students and teachers involved move from thinking only about development issues to taking action and supporting them in real ways. “With our experiences in the slums and in the city,” Mundra said, “we can better understand the impact of various events in the developing world.”
The group will share accommodations, donated by the Godrej family, with students and faculty from the Udayachal School. According to Mundra, the daily cross-cultural exchange among participants helps students to challenge assumptions about India and the United States, and to understand various perspectives.
The NGOs will involve students and their advisors in their work with orphans, street children, and students from slums in after-school programs. In addition to field work, the Niswarth group will study the United Nations’ 1989 document on the Rights of the Child, review India’s current legislation and public debates on the topic, visit the Indian Human Rights Commission, interview local judges and political leaders, and visit a rural microfinance program. They will be required to keep a detailed journal. Mundra said the program will “support Andover’s goals of nurturing global citizenship; understanding cross-cultural issues; promoting leadership, cooperation, and service; and developing an interdisciplinary approach to topics.” He particularly wants students “to gain a sense of what the world looks like and feels like from the perspective of another culture.”
In a meeting with Mundra last summer, Michael Owen, counsel general for the U.S. Embassy in Mumbai, called the project “groundbreaking, involving students from different parts of the world. This leads to greater understanding of all cultures involved.”
Students who will participate in the program this summer are:
Matt Cranney ’08, of Andover
Trisha Macrae ’09, of San Francisco
Alexa Reid ’07, of New Canaan, Conn.
Michaeljit Sandhu ’09, of Plymouth, Mass.
Kie Watanabe ’08, of Tokyo
Victoria Wilmarth ’09, of Andove