Participants on our Insight Trip to India arrived in New Delhi last week, eager to experience the nation’s vibrant culture and connect with local communities. During one of their first days in country, they visited Old Delhi, where they walked along the bustling commercial street Chandni Chowk, explored the spice markets, rode a pedal rickshaw, and toured Jami Masjid, the oldest and largest mosque in India. Later that afternoon, they visited the Anandvan community, where they participated in a lesson on meditation and breathing exercises.
The area is familiar to Fulbright Association Trip Representative and incoming board member Mary Stanton, who did her 2010-2011 Fulbright Teacher Exchange in the region. The Teacher Exchange Program, which was discontinued in 2014, offered primary and secondary school educators the opportunity to exchange teaching positions with a teacher from another country. Mary’s exchange partner was an Indian woman named Rashmi (right), and during their Fulbright year, Mary taught Rashmi’s classes at Bal Bharati Public School. Drawing on the strength of their ongoing connection, Mary introduced the group to Rashmi, who graciously hosted everyone at her home for dinner. “I lived in her home, the home where we had dinner. Rashmi and I have been close friends since our exchange; we call each other our soul sister. Dinner at her house was like an encore of the Fulbright experience,” Mary shared.
The group also met with Nibir and Sunita (below), the only two Fulbright alumni in Agra. The special experiences that come from Fulbright connections to the local community are the true backbone of Fulbright Association Insight and Service Trips. In addition to visiting significant cultural monuments, FA trips facilitate connections with Fulbright alumni in the area and often with local organizations, schools, and clinics as well.
This is the Fulbright Association’s second time leading an Insight Trip to India, and this year’s itinerary has included visits to the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The photo below shows the group at Fatehpur Sikri, a UNESCO World Heritage site nicknamed the “Ghost City” that is an important historic site from medieval Mughal India. Built in 1571 by Mughal Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire for 14 years. These more traditional travel experiences of India’s cultural and architectural landmarks have only been strengthened by the Fulbright bonds formed in-country and the unique perspectives they instill.