I’ve been back in the States for two weeks now and I’ve barely had any time to reflect on my experience with all the chaos of arriving home after 7 months abroad. What I can say though is a bit cliché-my time in India and Thailand was life changing.
By the time I said goodbye to Navdanya I was able to have very basic conversations with farmers, especially the women who ran the seed bank, knocking out three of my learning goals: to speak sufficient Hindi, gain an understanding of the role of women in agriculture, and learn about the process of seed saving. My other learning objectives were also met and I ended making really great friends at Navdanya whom I ended up traveling with after we all finished interning.
Each new experience whether abroad or in the states enhances my perception of the ways in which globalization and development projects affect local people. I hope to continue working with farmers and locals finding ways to combat the very negative effects that globalization has had. I’d like to find additional ways to use the stories and knowledge I gained from the rural people of Thailand and of India to help communities around the world who are subject to similar cases of injustice.
Hopefully when I am back at Tulane I will find that my experience is applicable to communities in Louisiana who’s livelihoods have been impacted by the petrochemical industry. I’m currently enrolled in a class on that topic and I hope to find an internship with an organization doing this type of work to satisfy my Environmental Studies capstone requirement. So if anyone has any connections let me know!
The advice that I have for others looking to work with non-profits, farmers, or any agents of environmental justice is to have LOTS of patience. There were plenty of times throughout the summer when I could not understand why it would take so long for things to get done. The most important qualities are to be friendly and approachable so that when things get hectic you can be the calm amongst the storm. I often felt that I played the role of mediator, which maybe is considered “feminine.” However after living in India, a country with very strict and traditional gender roles, I realize that in any society or organization a balance between feminine and masculine qualities is needed. Within every individual exists a balance between feminine and masculine qualities regardless of gender. We all have the ability to bring different things to the table and it’s important that the outcome balances. My advice to both female and male leaders is to welcome feminine qualities into their work and lives in order to create a safe and efficient workplace, home, and earth.