David Wilkerson ’12 is a 2011 Brandeis-India Fellow who spent this summer in Bangalore, India. He is majoring in the Premedical Program and Anthropology with a minor in South Asian Studies. The piece below is an entry from his journal.
16 June 2011
I’ve been quite busy the last couple of days. Most of this week has been spent finding and then asking permission from government schools in Jayanagar and Basavanagudi. Swathi and I have been very successful at scheduling the eye pre-screenings.
Tomorrow I will conduct my first eye prescreening at Crescent School. It should make for a very interesting start as a result of the unique Muslim flavor of the school. I hope that perhaps just this brief moment of contact might make some impression on their conception of Americans, etc… Despite the general feeling of unwelcome-ness, I feel that the headmaster there has genuine concern for the well-being of his students. He was quite keen in determining the role of esteem in the lives of impoverished children.
On a similar note, the neighborhood maid stopped by again today. Apparently her grandson who accompanies her saw me today visit his principal at NR Colony GHPS. He seems undernourished and likely mentally impaired. His movements and speech were a bit spastic and his mental capacities below average.
Cousin Balu was here at the time and his presence and demeanor reflected an interesting intercaste/interclass dynamic. It seems such constant exposure to poverty and the like will most definitely lead to desensitization.
Balu and I spoke for some time this afternoon–nearly 4 hours! We spoke mostly about cultural and religious differences i.e. touching, relationships, Hinduism, etc… but also about growing Chinese influence and the possibilities of war. Most interestingly, I was asked to provide an analysis of the family–personalities, relationships, and the like.
Ate delicious North Indian thali today for lunch. Bajis in the afternoon and a butterscotch drumstick. I caved and ate KFC yesterday. It was my first meat and probably garlic I’ve had since arriving here.