Hello everyone! We are busy preparing for our journey to India and we are all excited to share our experience with you! Be sure to check the Reflections page (found on the left side of this page) for daily updates of our journey. We will also add pictures to the Pictures folder as time and Internet connections permit. We will make every effort to update this site as frequently as possible (hopefully daily), and this will be our primary means of keeping you informed.
We Want to Hear From You!
Unfortunately, we are unable to create a "Comments" page directly on this website. However, you will be able to post comments on our photos (using the "Pictures" link to the left) on the Flickr page. Feel free to leave us a message or comment by viewing one of the photos and posting a comment on the Flickr website. We hope that you will continue to post comments, as we enjoy hearing from our friends and family back home! Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you soon!
About our journey
From January 10th - 28th, 2014 a group of UWO Professional Counseling students will be making a journey to northern India with Dr. Charles Lindsey. When our group is in India, we will have the benefit of co-leadership by Dr. Tulsi Das, an Indian Psychologist and the professional who has co-led two previous UWO Professional Counseling groups in India. We wanted you to know his name as you will be hearing it a lot and seeing him in many of our pictures!
The purpose of this course/journey is to explore and experience first-hand the mental health, spiritual, and social justice concerns that currently exist within Indian society. These include, but are not limited to: the effects of being the world’s largest democracy with a population of 1.2 billion people; ongoing struggles with neighbors such as Pakistan and China; struggles of modern India operating on an ancient social caste system; the effects of poverty on mental health and wellness; women’s issues, particularly around civil and reproductive rights; and the impact of the current political and cultural climate on the children of India. Students will also have numerable opportunities to engage in a variety of service learning and volunteer activities during this two-week journey as a means of further broadening their experiences and understandings of counseling and mental health practices within Indian culture.
Pre-departure meetings - Jan. 6, 7, & 8, 2014
We actually had to condense our pre-departure meetings from three days to two. UWO classes (and many schools throughout Wisconsin) were cancelled on Jan. 6th as historically cold temperatures affected the entire country. In spite of this "polar vortex", we were busy on January 7th and 8th as members of our group presented on topics they had researched in regard to India. We learned about the significance of the Ganges river; essential elements of Hinduism and Buddhism, in addition to a basic understanding of the influences of Islam, Christianity, and Sihkism within Indian culture. We also explored the political and economic structure of India; mental health issues within India and the status of mental health care and intervention; the Indian family structure; gender and sexuality within India; the Indian education system; ideas of what constitutes beauty in Indian society; the complexity of food and language within Indian culture; and what common rituals and customs are surrounding childbirth in India. We also discussed details in regard to each portion of our journey, and addressed final preparations that are needed for our involvement with the places/agencies where we will be interacting. The following itinerary will give you a further understanding of our overall program.
Updated itinerary for India, 2014
PRFL CNSL 724 – Counseling, Culture, and Spirituality in India
Classroom dates at UWO: Tues., & Wed., Jan. 7, & 8
Time in India: leave Fri., Jan. 10 & return to US on Tues., Jan. 28
Tues. & Wed., Jan. 7, 8 – Meet on UWO campus, room Clow 9. We’ll explore special topics and prepare further for our time in India; meet 10:00am – 2:00pm each day.
Fri., Jan. 10 – Transportation = Kobussen bus able to transport 10 people (leave UWO lot number 6). Bus begins boarding at 1:50pm and leaves promptly at 2:00pm! Fly from Chicago to London and then London to Delhi. British Airways flight 296 leaves O’Hare at 8:35pm, and arrives in London at 10:10am (London time) on Sat., Jan. 11.
Sat., Jan. 11 – British Airways flight 143 leaves London at 11:40am (London time) and arrives in Delhi on Sun., January 12th at 1:25am. Stay the next three nights (Jan. 12 – 14) at Hotel Surya International in Delhi.
Sun., Jan. 12 – Day for acclimation. We will visit the Gandhi Smitri (Gandhi Memorial) and have an opportunity to learn about the impact and influence of Gandhi on the shaping of India. Dr. Tulsi and Charles will provide an orientation on this day. Lastly, we will also find time to shop for “kurtas” (traditional Indian garments) that we will wear on several occasions during our journey in India. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Mon., Jan. 13 – We will connect with the Soami Nagar School in Delhi. Specifically, we will have an opportunity on this day to meet and interact with students from the 7th, 8th, and 9th classes. In addition, the staff of this school has asked that our group prepare presentation topics on working with youth in a school setting. We will be at Soami Nagar from 10:00am until approximately 2:30pm. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Tues., Jan. 14 – This will be our last full day in Delhi, and we will take time to more deeply explore India’s capitol city. We will visit the impressive grounds of the Qutub Minar, and will visit an outdoor market (Dilli Haat), where artisans from all over India display their crafts. Time (and energy) permitting; we may visit the National Museum of India in the afternoon. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Wed., Jan. 15 – Fly from Delhi to Varanasi in the morning (leave Delhi at 8:55am and arrive in Varanasi at 10:10am). Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people. Upon arrival in Varanasi, Dr. Tulsi will provide an orientation to the DISCC organization (Deva International Society for Child Care) at the DEVA center headquarters. We will then move to Hotel Haifa where we will have accommodations for the next nine (9) nights.
Thurs., Jan. 16th – We will start the day by moving into the rural area outside of Varanasi. Our first stop is the Shool Tankeshwar Temple (dedicated to Shiva) on the banks of the Ganges. Here, Dr. Dwivedi (a psychology professor emeritus from Benares Hindu University and a leading expert on sacred Hindu texts), will talk with our group about the ancient stories of the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana, and will underscore connections between the lessons from these writings and the profession of counseling. After lunch, we will move toward the village where the Annapurna Center (girls empowerment center) is located and will become oriented on the projects in which we will engage more fully over the next two days. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Fri. & Sat., Jan. 17 & 18 – For the next two days we will be connecting with the Annapurna Center (girls empowerment center) in this village community on the outskirts of Varanasi. We will be working with the residents of this village and learning about community life in rural India. In addition, we will be dedicating a threshing machine to this center, a tool that the girls can use in generating their own flour for sale at market. We will also assist in creating a garden area at the center and will help to paint parts of the main Annapurna Center building. On our final day in the village, we will be take part in a celebratory meal with the Annapurna Center girls and other members of this village community. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people on both days.
Sun., Jan. 19 – FREE DAY for students; a time for rest, reflection and moving at a slower pace. In the evening we will attend a musical concert in the beautiful Panchakot House that overlooks the Ganges. This will be immediately followed by a boat ride on the Ganges.
Mon. & Tues., Jan. 20 & 21 – Begin a two-day connection with the Sisters of Charity (Mother Theresa’s organization) in Varanasi. We will work with the nuns in this center that provides assistance to the homeless and the ill each day from approximately 7:30am – 12:00pm. Our efforts over the next two days will focus on providing direct interaction and assistance to the residents to include: arts and crafts, exercise, music, games, and other assistance where needed. On the afternoon of 1/20 (approximately 2:00pm), we will have an opportunity to visit a Sikh temple and learn more about the Sikhism. On the afternoon of 1/21, we will connect with an Ayuerdevic doctor, and learn of the importance of treating mind, body, and spirit within this tradition. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people on both days.
Wed., Jan. 22 – We will visit Sarnath, the place at which the Buddha is said to have given his first teaching (on the 4 Noble Truths). We will also have an opportunity to visit the incredibly ornate Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Sarnath, a temple where the Dalai Lama frequently teaches. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Thurs., Jan. 23 – This will be our day for connecting again with children. We will visit the Gongotri School which is supported by the DISCC organization. We will also have an opportunity to work with children at the DEVA headquarters, where the focus is assisting children with developmental disabilities. In the evening, Dr. Tulsi has graciously invited us to dinner at this home in Varanasi!
Friday, Jan. 24 – Travel from Varanasi to Agra by train (Garibnwaz 18631), leaving Varanasi at 945am and arriving in Agra at 705pm. We will be staying at the Hotel Sun for the next three nights.
Saturday, Jan. 25 – We will spend the day visiting the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Agra. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Sunday, Jan. 26 – This is Republic Day in India (similar to our 4th of July), and we will spend the day celebrating with the Dayalbagh community. We will also have an opportunity to learn more about Dayalbagh and the Dayalbagh Educational Institute (DEI) in Agra to provide students an understanding of the academic and spiritual aspects of this community. We will have an afternoon discussion with Dr. Sriramamurtiji and will participate in evening Satsang (meditation) with the Dayalbagh community. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people.
Monday, Jan. 27 – 10:30am – 1:00pm – Our group will connect with Psychology Department at DEI; this will allow for involvement and interaction between American and Indian students. In addition, both Indian and American students will present poster sessions on topics related to working with youth (e.g., increasing self-confidence; improving self-esteem; cognitive restructuring; increasing attention, concentration, and memory skills). After having lunch, our group will leave Agra at approximately 2:30pm and begin our journey toward Delhi via expressway. Transportation = need bus able to transport 12 people. Arrive at Delhi International airport in the evening (approximately 10:00pm).
Tuesday, Jan. 28 – Leave Delhi at 340am (Delhi time) on British Airways flight 142; arrive in London at 7:30am (London time). Fly from London (British Airways flight 295) at 12:05pm and arrive in Chicago at approximately 2:40pm. The Kobussen bus will pick up students at O’Hare and return to Oshkosh lot 6 by 6:00pm.
Friday, Feb. 28 - Reunion of India group, and presentation of final projects (1:00pm - 3:00pm; Clow 9)