India and Finland/Denmark with John Patrick Harty, Suneetha Menon and Susan Johnson

India and Finland/Denmark with John Patrick Harty, Suneetha Menon and Susan Johnson

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- All right, welcome to Explore the World. The virtual speaker series from the International Education Office, through which we explore the world with our faculty, and staff travelers. We are recording this event, we want you to know that, and if you have any questions at any time, please type them into the chat. Our speakers will respond to them at the end.

The background for today's speakers is that the International Education Office has a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to add content about the world to our STEM courses, and, Tom Patterson, who is on our call today, our retired director was really influential in planning, and securing that funding with the wonderful assistance from our grant's office, Melinda and Anthony, but part of the reason we developed that grant is that we realize that we have a lot of content about the world in our Humanities and Social Sciences courses, but we were allowing our STEM students to graduate with very little formal education about the world in which they live and will work. So this grant was trying to remedy some of that oversight.

One of the grants features is that cohorts of STEM faculty, two cohorts of eight faculty each, go through a series of workshops, which assist them in adding international content to a selected course in a way that doesn't change the course outline, or the course outcomes. So if any of you are on Ed Affairs, we want you to really know that. A nice perk of that process is that cohort members receive a travel stipend to travel internationally, and acquire the information that they need to add to their courses. Our first speaker, Susan Johnson, first of all, just encouraging everybody to mute themselves, thanks. Hang on, our first speaker, Susan Johnson traveled, traveled over spring break to Finland, Poland, and Denmark to develop content for her course, Engineering 131, which is Engineering Graphics One. Susan will share with us what she experienced and learned.

Please join me in welcoming Susan to Explore the World. - Yes, I was very fortunate to be in the first cohort of the UISFL Travel grant. My goal, my overarching goal for this was to investigate how engineers use design practices across language, geographic and cultural boundaries. So I developed a module from an engineering graphics class where we explore, we're gonna be exploring how design, and how you need to know the local population to design for infrastructure, especially, transportation.

That's kind of what I focused on. So here I am getting ready to say goodbye to America, and heading for Finland. Yes, this was my total package that I took. I took one pretty small suitcase, even fit my snow boots and all of my snow pants, and everything in there 'cause I like to travel light.

And this is where I went, so. I made it to Lapland. In fact, the town of Inari and Ivalo. And I'll be telling you about those. My original trip was going to be Lapland, Helsinki, and then St. Petersburg, Russia, but as things started to heat up in Russia, I thought that was probably not prudent.

Actually, I had my plane tickets and everything, so I had to change. So I changed then to go to Poland and Denmark instead of Russia, so someday I will get to Russia. Hopefully, they will kinda straighten up, and that will be better. One thing that I noticed in Finland, and everywhere in Finland is that they love blueberry juice. And, in fact, I flew Finnish Airways, or Finnair, and every flight I took with them, which was numerous, we were always served blueberry juice, which I really appreciated. In fact, they would give you a choice of water, or blueberry juice.

No soda or anything, but water or blueberry juice. So I had lots of blueberry juice in Finland, which I really enjoyed. I landed in the town of Ivalo, which just has a little airport. And the first thing I noticed getting off the plane, it was a small airport, which was fine. And then getting to my lodging, I noticed that there seemed to be more snow removal equipment parked around then there were cars.

So that told me a lot about Ivalo. There was snow everywhere. And it was, of course, mid-March. And that's what they call the spring winter.

So it's not really winter anymore, but it's spring winter. Although, the temperature barely gets above freezing, but for them that's pretty warm. This was the little town that I stayed in, and it was about 3,000 people, Ivalo. And you'll see all of the rivers and things like that. So during the fall and polar winter, which means when the sun doesn't come up at all, and the spring winter, which is where I was, everything is frozen over. So they actually put street signs out on the rivers, and all through the different fields and things like that because everyone travels around with their snowmobiles, and other modes of transportation a lot times instead of using their car in the winter.

So that was interesting to see. And this is just me along one of those trails that no cars are allowed, but people would be going by with their Nordic skis. They would be skiing or they would be walking, or sometimes they would even be riding their bike in the winter. A lot of people out because it was spring winter, so they had come out of the polar winter, and they really wanted to get outside. The one thing I noticed when I picked up my car, my rental car is it had steel studs, which I believe when I was a kid, we had those in this country, but those seemed to go away once we got all-weather tires. So all of the cars I noticed had those, because, of course, you hardly ever saw a road that didn't have snow still on it even in town.

This was a typical road in the town. And like I said, normally the roads would still have mostly snow on them. I pointed out the red arrow here because that shows the sidewalks, and all of the roads had really wide sidewalks that were separated from the road, I suppose, so they could plow, and that's where everyone would be driving there. And I'll show you what I really liked were the kicksleds. And I got to try out a kicksled, and many people would go around town on their kicksleds.

A number of people I did see using the Nordic skis. And I just had to take a picture of the puppy because I was in Lapland. And so I didn't do anything with dog sledding, or anything, but I really liked the dog, and it looked like it belonged there. Many people at this time of year and all during the winter, they get around on their snowmobile, and they might pull a cart behind them to haul things.

This was out on one of the trails on one of the rivers that went through a lake. Here, I was going into the grocery store. I just stopped my car and I took a very blurry shot, but there was someone going to the grocery on their snowmobile. And here's the kicksled that I found so interesting. Many, many people use their kicksleds to get around town, and what they would do, a number of them, would tie or bind somehow a basket where the seat is. And they would go to the grocery.

In fact, the one that you see in blue, I took that at the grocery store, they just park them right outside the grocery, go and get their groceries. And then they bungee tie their groceries, or they have a basket, or something. And then they just go along on their little kicksled back home. So I thought that was a great, great way to get around, and it got people outside. You can see my nose is red there it was pretty cold.

When I was there it was quite nice weather. In fact, it was a little too nice. And I'm gonna talk about that in just a moment. I was introduced to part of the Sámi culture by this woman. She's an indigenous person that lived there, and she gave very small tours. She's a reindeer herder, and her family has been herding reindeer for 400 years.

She has a husband and a couple small children. They were at school that day, but they speak Sámi in the home. In fact, there are numerous dialects of Sámi, the language, and the dialect that they speak in the home, only 300 people speak that dialect, but they keep it alive.

Of course, she said, her children learn Finnish, and English in school, but they speak Sámi. The reindeer herding is very, very highly regulated in Norway, and I didn't realize that. And they have groups of 10 families that are grouped together that will herd a reindeer herd, and those 10 families. And then it was passed down to their children type of thing.

And they have regulations on how many reindeer they may have, how they sell them, how they process them. Everything is highly regulated as in a lot of countries in Europe, but I didn't realize that the Indigenous people would also be under these strict regulations. In fact, the Sámi, they have their own parliament there. And it's based in Inari, which was very close to where I was staying. - Is that to protect the animals, or to protect the culture? - That's to protect their livelihood, and to protect the animals to keep it very sustainable, and to protect the way that they do things, so they can do things as they've always done them.

You can't really see here, and this is the only picture I have, but she has on these boots. And so I took a picture of them in a museum I went to, and these are made out of reindeer hide, the woman, Anna, she had made her own, and she's outside a lot during the year, and she said there is nothing that will keep her feet as warm at the reindeer hide boots, absolutely nothing plastic, or manmade, or anything will be as good as her reindeer boots, so she always wears reindeer boots. You'll notice that there's markings on the side of the reindeer, and that has to do with whether they've been bred that year.

It means all different kinds of meanings. And then to keep who's who they know who everybody is because they nip, or they clip their ear a little bit different notches mean different things. And she actually had an app on her phone that she could go through the different notches on the ears for any animal, and she could see when it was born, who it belongs to in their 10 family herd, if it doesn't belong to their herd, which herd it does belong to, and they can get it back to the right people. So I thought that was very interesting.

So they're not just out there roaming around free, and you go and hunt them, or you gather them up. They actually are owned by certain reindeer herders. I got to feed them, which they are very friendly. Some of them were more friendly than others, just like cows, I suppose. And they eat kind of lichens and mosses, and things like that.

And, like, when I said that, because it was a bit too warm there, she said, it's getting warmer. And when it gets above freezing too early, like, in March, it should never be above freezing, but it did get above freezing. It makes the layer of the snow melt, and then turn to ice again when it freezes.

And then they have a hard time pawing through that to get to their food, so they're in almost a crisis situation in Lapland with the reindeer herders, and the reindeer are really having a hard time during their winter or their spring winter feeding because things are thawing and freezing before they should be. I learned how to use a lasso because she uses a lasso to catch them. And then the other thing that I noticed in Lapland is they didn't have the souvenir shops where you go in, and you get the little refrigerator magnets, and the little key chains, and things like that. Almost all of their souvenirs were handmade.

And the tags on them would show, would say, who had made it and where they live in Lapland. So I thought that was really a really nice thing. I went on a traditional fishing trip, even though I'm not a fisher person. And I just had to take this picture because these are other people in my group that were fishing.

And the way that you fish is you lay flat on a reindeer hide with a hole in it, and you put your head down on the hole, and then you have your rod with the hook, also, through the hole, and when you see a fish you hook it. So here was mine. I spent a lot of my time rolled over just basking in the sun, but, yeah, some people did catch some fish, which was nice. Our guide that day, Otey, was a very nice young man, and he made the fish over the open fire for us to eat.

An interesting thing about him is 12 years ago, he did his service to Finland. They have national service that you must do for a year, and he did that, and the day after I met him, he had to go for more training. He hadn't been to any kind of military training for 12 years, but they were calling up a lot of the men for training because of what is happening in Russia. So they were calling up thousands of the men for additional training in case they would need to defend their border. Here's the fish that he made for us.

And the little cake thing that you see is actually a pastry with a rice type of filling that they eat all over Finland, and sometimes it'll be savory, or you can add jam and make it sweet. The other thing very quickly is the plate and the fork. You never see plastic like that in Finland. It's already paper.

And this is actually pressed paper for the fork. This was the little house I stayed in, very nice and tight and warm. So I looked at all about the architecture for that.

They have the Zero Arctic project up there. They're looking into sustainable practices for their architecture. So I spent a lot of time looking at that. And then here is just a chart of the polar summer. It means the sun never goes down.

Polar winter the sun never comes up. I was right kind of in the middle, right when there was 12 hours of daylight, and 12 hours of night. This is the only picture that I did not personally take.

I did see the Northern Lights, but I don't have a good enough camera to take a picture of them, so that was really interesting. I was there four nights, and I saw them one out of four nights, so I was very fortunate. Then I made my way to Helsinki the land of heated floors, heated bathroom floors and saunas. Every place I stayed had a sauna, which was nice.

And then I looked at the transportation and what I found, and I found this in other places in Europe too, but now a lot of the major cities are going to an app where you just get your ticket on the app. You board the train or the bus, very easy. You don't have to have change that type of thing. I also took a ferry.

In fact, I took a ferry over to Estonia, the country of Estonia. They do a lot of transport with bikes, and this is a picture of my foot to give you scale, but all over Helsinki, this is what the sidewalks look like in the spring winter, right? They use gravel, they don't use any salt. When I was in Estonia I did see, and notice this is in English, which I thought was interesting, but it was in the country of Estonia, protest or things about the war 'cause the war had just started then when I was over there. And I have to talk about lighting in Finland. Because of the polar winter, lighting is very important to them. In that little town I was in of 3,000 they had, one of the biggest stores was a lighting store, all about lights.

And you'll notice here in these pictures, there's lights that are hanging right by the open windows. That's because during the polar winter, they will turn on those lights, so at least it seems like they're getting some light during the day, Even their light switches, and all of their lighting in their apartments, and things like that. You could have them so it's very bright, or it's not so bright, or it's kind of nighttime brightness. They're very, very into lighting, which makes sense when you live in a more northern climate.

Helsinki is known for its very vastly different types of architecture, so I enjoyed looking at all the architecture. I especially liked, this is the public library in Helsinki. I tried to get some of the sweeping lines, and this is an indoor shot. And even upstairs I looked and the floor actually tilts. You kind of walk uphill to the corner there, which I thought was interesting, and notice all the light that can come in, because, again, they're in that northern climate.

And quickly I went to Poland to Krakow. Krakow, the land of old versus new. And what I wanted to really look at there were the religious aspects, and how it would look into design. So the Catholic church has a major presence there, something like 75% of Poles identify as Catholics, and are practicing Catholics, not just identify as Catholics. And then the picture right next to that, that was the entrance to Auschwitz. I took a day tour to Auschwitz to understand a little bit about the Jewish history from World War II, and to find out and to learn more about how Jewish history didn't just start at World War II, right? It goes way, way back before that.

Here was on the bus, and I saw this more than once, usually in the older generation. A woman was saying her rosary as she was on the bus. So I think that speaks to the very religious aspect of their life there. No, it wouldn't be complete without going to a very intimate concert of Chopin who is a son of Poland. So that was very, very nice. And then I always kind of look for interesting, and kind of quaint funny things.

Pope John Paul II was from Poland. This was at the entrance of one of the museums, and it's a vending machine that it's about $2.50, and you can get a commemorative coin, so. And then the other funny thing that I saw in Poland, this was in my apartment, and I think they lost something in the translation because it says please do not throw away pets.

That was how it was translated to English, but I don't think that the Polish really have disposable pets. So you always kind of look for funny things when you travel internationally too. Then finally I went onto Copenhagen.

Of course, this is what everybody sees in Copenhagen down at the Harbor, but what I saw and I saw that, of course, too, and you see pretty doorways and lots of crowns, and palaces and things like that, right? But what I saw were bikes, and more bikes, and more bikes. So I said, well, I'm looking at transportation. I need to rent a bike. So I rented a bike from the hotel and got going. And I learned that there are very, very, very strict rules about biking culturally in Copenhagen. One, you always stop at the stop signs, or at the stoplights.

They have separate stoplights for the car, and for the bike lanes. You always stop if you're going to talk on your phone. People do not talk on their phone and bike. Yes, you can see here. There's a couple different stoplights. One's for the cars, one's for the bikes.

The other thing, culturally, you never cross the street as a pedestrian, unless it has the green light with the little guy walking, to let you know that you are able to cross. That keeps everything nice, so bikes aren't running into pedestrians, pedestrians aren't running into cars, that type of thing. It's very, very structured that way. Some of the side streets weren't quite as nice to bike on, right? Because they were cobblestone, but the main streets all had bike lanes. And I biked, actually, it says 10 kilometers, which is about six miles, but with all the extra little side streets, I probably biked around 10 miles and I will tell you what, they bike quickly and they tend to have long legs.

And so I would be biking just as fast as I could, and they would be whipping by me. So that was a little bit disconcerting. And then, finally, right? I met this lovely couple.

They were staying at my hotel, and they allowed me to interview them at length. He was born and raised in Texas. She was born in Ukraine. They were on their honeymoon, so all the hearts, right? They were a lovely couple, and I learned, I pegged them for a long time, but one of the interesting things he said was the lifestyle of working in Europe. He's been working in Europe for about five years.

It's very different. They approach work differently. It's just part of your life. Your most important part of your life is your other things that you do in life. And that's how they manage their people.

And she was a lovely young woman. She and her family they left Ukraine in the '90s for a better life in Germany, more economic opportunities. And one of the things that she said that she really felt, and her parents very deeply felt this too, that just to be careful who you are giving money to, if you are helping Ukraine.

She said, corruption is just rampant over there. This is coming from her, not me. Corruption is rampant over there.

And so a lot of the money that people are sending is just going into line rich people's pockets, so, but they had a lot of interesting things to say. And then finally I came home on Finnair, and so I got more blueberry juice. Okay, thank you very much.

- Thanks so much, Susan. I don't know where I wanna go first, but certainly the reindeer herding sounded very interesting, and just the whole idea of a nice work-life balance. That's really, really appealing.

So if you have questions for Susan, she'll have time at the end, but now we're moving on to our next speakers. Another part of this grant that I've already mentioned provides funding for the development of four STEM-focused study abroad programs. In order to develop those programs, the faculty leaders first travel to the target country to explore the location and the possibilities. This past spring break, Professor John Harty of Geosciences, and Suneetha Menon, the director of the Science Resource Center, traveled to India to begin the planning to take students there over spring break in 2023. So if you're a student start saving your money. And if you're faculty, you can tell your students about this, and John and Suneetha are going to tell us what they experienced and learned.

So, welcome to Explore the World, John and Suneetha. - Well, Janette, thank you for that introduction. As you said, Suneetha and I were able to travel to India over the spring break, and we wanna share a little bit about our adventure. - So I'll start off with how this idea came up. So I had seen a lot of interest among my colleagues, and students here at JCCC as well as in the community about knowing how life is in India.

Among many of the questions regarding Bollywood, the food, and all that, there were some questions which were more about how do you live in that country when it's so populated? What are the rules and regulations? How are things managed there? And many of those questions I felt I could not answer because it was more of an experience than trying to answer that question. So that's where I thought probably I should plan a study abroad trip to India. So I reached out to Tom, who is listening, and then to my Dean, Vince, and shared my idea, and they said, yeah, go ahead and plan this trip, but you need to have a colleague. So then I had to find somebody who would be willing to travel with me to India, one. Two, who would probably have the same interests that I have to plan a study abroad trip, which was mainly to showcase the cultural, and religious diversity in the country, the historical significance, and just life in general, how things function there.

So if you have noticed the title, that's a unique title that we have got, and John will get into that later. And so I wanted somebody who could probably have the same focus that I was thinking about. And, thirdly, who would be able to look at some of the subtler aspects that might not come to my notice, but would be important, and maybe a matter of concern for somebody who's traveling to India for the first time. So many of my colleagues recommended John, and I knew John enough to take this proposal to him. And he was kind enough to be on board and plan the trip. So that's where we started.

And we were lucky enough that the time when we were planning this, the USIFL grant was being submitted. So all we had to do was to add two STEM sites to our area of interest, and we submitted a proposal. We got the grant, and that's where we started off with this project. - Well, like Suneetha said, we both had similar interests for this, and I'm so thankful that she did ask me. This is a region of the world I've long been interested in traveling to.

And part of the reason why I was so interested in traveling there is because India is a rising global superpower. Within the next 10 years it's expected to become the most populous country on the planet. Its GDP is quickly rising, and expected to surpass the U.S. not on a per capita basis,

but in terms of the overall size of the economy, likely sometime within our lifetime. You factor in some of the things I discuss in my classes related to STEM subjects with healthcare, notably with medical tourism. I'm talking about medical tourism in India, as well as the IT industries. And as I tell my students, if you ever make a phone call for tech support in the middle of the night, and you detect just a little bit of an accent, there's a good chance you're speaking to someone over in India.

And so for me, visiting a place, a site such as the Infosys Campus here in Bangalore that I've got pictured here, that was pretty special for me, but as Suneetha said, not only were we looking at the STEM fields within India, we also want to incorporate some of the cultural aspects, including both the history as well as the modern-day diversity that one finds within India. - So this trip we did visit six cities. So we landed in Delhi in the north.

And then we went to Agra where the Taj Mahal is. And then we visited another city called Jaipur. These three cities together is called the Golden Triangle. And it has a lot of cultural and historical significance.

And then we went to Baruda about which John will be talking later, and then two cities in the south, which is Chennai. And then Bengaluru it's the Silicon Valley of India. So when we were planning the trip, I was really interested in choosing some cities from the north and some cities from the south, because growing up in India, I had always realized that there was a huge difference between the north and the south. And I had always felt it, though, I had not visited many of the sites in the north. And I wanted to see if John could also see that difference, if it really showcases, or it was something that I had grown up with, and I always thought it's there, but it was six cities in 10 days. It was a lot for 10 days.

In fact, it was 13 days including the travel. There were many nights when we would check into the hotel at 11:30 at night, and check out at 4:30 to catch the next flight. So that is not possible when we take a group of students. So for our trip during spring break, we would be focusing on the two cities in the north, Delhi and Agra, and then Baruda in the west, and then Chennai in the south. We chose six cities so that we could be sure about the sites that we want to visit, which would be the perfect sites for all the people who are traveling to see the cultural, and historical significance and the diversity. - And, fortunately, we were both in agreement in terms of both the sites we wanted to see, as well as the ones we thought the students would get the most out of.

And as we speak about India, one of the things I oftentimes hear from my students is when we discuss India is how it's a developing country. And they're a little uneasy about that, but when you see modern-day India, you realize that it's truly a mix. This is the Mumbai International Airport. And you compare and contrast this to KCI, and there's a lot to desire from a site such as this.

And you might notice McDonald's there in the foreground. McDonald's are everywhere across India. As I told Suneetha, it wasn't so much a surprise to see McDonald's or Starbucks over there, but we did spy a Popeyes, which I would have never expected to see a Popeyes over in India, but, anyway, they have a little bit of everything. This is the shopping area in the Mumbai Airport. This is the waiting, whoop, sorry, let me go back here.

This is the waiting area for flights in the Mumbai Airport. And I show this, again, just to give students a feel for what they will experience when we go over there. Now, if you're wondering why there are no passengers there, my flight was at three a.m. to come back to the states,

and that's around one a.m. in the airport, so, no one showed up that early if they didn't have to. And that's why we were there, but once we did arrive, we were greeted, and everyone knew instantly, I was the person they were looking for because I was the only person of European descent in most of the places that we went. So it was really easy to pick me out. It was really easy to pick out them because they had these welcome John Patrick Harty signs for me when we got there. And in case you're wondering what our accommodations were like.

This is the hotel room we stayed in in New Delhi. I wish I would have played around with the backdrop just a little bit. You could change the colors over your bed to set the different mood within your hotel room. This is the interior of the hotel that we stayed in.

It was a very large hotel. And this gives you an idea of what one of the other hotels we stayed in was like. All of the hotels we stayed in were top-notch.

The staff was incredibly courteous towards us. We had a grand time there staying in the hotels. - So here, what you're seeing is one of the dinners that we had in the north. So this is typically a north Indian cuisine, which is totally vegetarian. There's a mix of rice and bread varieties, bread made of wheat, and then millets, and around it you see all different curries, and vegetable dishes. These are all served on a dried leaf plate.

And here you have the dried leaf bowls that they use to serve various items. So this was a complete menu. It had some desserts, too, in this mix. On the right, this was lunch that we had in Chennai.

It's a pomfret fish commonly seen in India, marinated in a bunch of spices, Indian spices, served with a sauce and some carrots and onions along with a tender coconut drink, which is very common in India. So they'll get a full coconut, they'll cut the top, and you can drink the coconut water inside. And if you wish they would cut it open, and then you can have the tender coconut that's inside. So in all, most of the restaurants that we went, we had a huge variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items that we could choose. Among the non-vegetarian items it was mostly goat, lamb, chicken and fish, and all very, very flavorful.

And I felt it was moderately spiced, but I would let John comment on that, how he felt about it. - Yeah, so one of the things Suneetha was concerned about, and probably rightly so was how would someone who had never been to South Asia before handle the spices? I applaud her on so many levels in her concern for me on this, but she and her husband had me over a couple of times prior to our trip, so I could try some Indian food, and see how I would do with the different flavors, as well as the different spice levels in terms of how hot something would be in terms of the spiciness. And I like to think I did okay with the spices. In fact, Suneetha and I quickly were able to figure out that we had about the same spice tolerance in terms of the heat level, with one notable exception, which was a dish that's traditional to Sri Lanka, that for whatever reason I was immune to, and I could eat the spices in all their glory. And Suneetha joked that I must have burnt off my taste buds because she could definitely taste the spice on that one, but even though the food is quite remarkable, one of the things that really stood out to me was coffee. I'm a coffee drinker.

I knew that they drank quite a bit of coffee in India. I understood that, or excuse me, a lot of tea within India, and the tea would be served with milk typically. And in the south, I understood that they would also drink coffee.

You'd be able to find more coffee in the south. Well, I'm someone who drinks cream with my coffee. That's how Indians do it as well. Well, milk and coffee, but how they prepare it is a little different. And I asked this barista if I could record this, just because I found that so amazing. I just love how they mix the coffee and milk over there.

It's just fascinating. It's an art form for sure. - So, here, you're seeing a STEM location that we had visited, which is an Ayurvedic medical hospital, and a research center. So Ayurveda is an alternate form of medicine that is native to India. They mostly rely on herbal medicine, and the whole focus of Ayurvedic medicine is human well-being instead of fighting diseases.

So it's a holistic approach to maintain health, and well-being rather than fighting diseases. So the people whom you see in the picture, this person is a medical doctor who has gone through the formal education of four years of college and internship, and along with the director of the center who gave us a tour of the center. So they showed us how various medical treatments are done, what are some of the things they do over there, and even various herbal preparations that they use for those treatments. And they even had a retail store where they sell all those medicines. So this was the first site that we visited in Delhi the next day that we landed. The following day, we were planning to visit most of the historical sites in Delhi so that we started off with the first one, the one that we see here.

It's the Red Fort, or we call it the Lal Qila. It's the fort built during the Mughal Empire, when the Mughals reigned somewhere in the 17th century. And the walls that you see here of the fort, these walls are 75 feet high, and they're made of red sandstones. And it's a huge monument. And inside these walls is a complex of palaces, entertainment halls, geometric gardens, indoor canals, and some other entertainment areas, open areas, many of which have been converted into museums now.

Now when the Britishers came in they started using this place more to house military troops. And right now this place is where Independence Day parade starts on August 15th when India celebrates Independence Day because this was where the first Indian flag was hoisted when India won independence in 1947. So that's the significance. We could visit some of the museums inside, but we did not have enough time to visit all of them. - Well, Suneetha and I wanted to spend a lot more time there, but we had a busy schedule. - I'll talk about what you see in the background.

And John can add who are the people in the front, so. Here in the back, you see the Parliament House, which houses the Lower house, the Lok Sabha, and the Upper house, the Rajya Sabha of the parliament. This was built in the 1920s by the Britishers. It's still being used, but now the current prime minister is planning to build an alternate site where they can have all the government offices together. So around this place is the Presidential Palace, a lot of war memorials, and many other significant minister residences, and all that. It's a major area in Delhi, and John can talk about it more.

- And so when we pulled up, it was gated off. They had high security on that particular day. We weren't allowed to travel beyond where we were. And so I figured why not make the most of it.

These guards are heavily armed. I'm not sure if you can see that or not within the photo, but they are heavily armed. I said, hey, would you come take a picture with us? And they kind of looked confused, but I think they thought this guy doesn't know what he's doing. Why not take a picture with him? And so we got a picture with three guards here, outside the Presidential Palace, which was a lot of fun. - So what you see here is the Gandhi Memorial.

Now, there are a lot of monuments as memorials for Mahatma Gandhi in India, especially in Delhi. And one of the most popular ones is the place where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, which is called the Raj Ghat. This is called Gandhi Memorial as the Birla House.

This is more not so popular and it's a quieter place, but this was the place where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. So I should tell my experience what I felt when I walked in there. So as a child, when I was growing up in India, Mahatma Gandhi had a place in all our lives.

We have read his biography. We know what he has done for independence, for Indian independence, but when I walked to that site somewhere close by over here. And when I looked at it, I could visualize the last moments when he was shot and killed, and I was really moved. It was an overwhelming, very emotional moment for me at that time. And I think the environment, how they have maintained that monument really contributes to that because it's very serene. It's quiet, there's hardly anybody over there.

It's very well-maintained. And on top of it, if you look here, you can see the footsteps. Those were the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi when he walked into that prayer site that morning on January 31st, 1948.

I think even John had a similar experience walking in. - Yeah, I was surprised at how moving a site this was for me. The footsteps that Suneetha pointed out actually go back quite a bit further back towards the building he left as he was making his way to this particular shrine.

And just following those footsteps, because you parallel those footsteps up to this particular site, and you are allowed to go up to the site and see it. And as Suneetha said, there aren't that many visitors there, which I found quite surprising. I understand it might not be the most popular site, but still that it wasn't more heavily visited when we were there was a surprise to me.

There was a group that was just leaving as we approached the shrine. And as we were leaving after spending a decent amount of time at the site, as we were leaving there was another group coming up, and I found it very, very moving. I've been quite fortunate to have traveled to a number of sites around the world. And this is one of the more moving ones I've ever seen.

I found it quite emotional. I would compare it in this country to maybe visiting the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. When you go up there and you see these big burly guys breaking down in tears that's kind of what you felt. A little different, but it's moving nonetheless. It's quite the site.

Well, after New Delhi to go from something like that, to something like this, it's just night and day here, but the Taj Mahal. This is a world famous site. You basically can't plan a trip to India without including this particular site. It's just an absolute iconic landmark for this country.

I was really quite taken with it. Just behind me, if you can imagine where the person is standing taking the picture, you walk through this dark tunnel that's shaded, and it's quite dark within that tunnel. And on the other side of this tunnel in the sunshine is this marble mausoleum. And it was quite incredible.

I had heard, obviously, you hear about the Taj Mahal. I was thinking it had been built up a little too much. I was like, it won't be that big. It won't impress me that much. It was bigger than I thought it was going to be, and, Suneetha, this was her first time to the Taj Mahal as well.

- That's true, so I have always had a miniature Taj Mahal structure in my house whether it was in Mumbai, or whether it's here. I knew how important it was and how beautiful it was. I've seen it in Bollywood movies and pictures, and I've heard all the great stories about the monument, but as John was saying, once we left the entrance and walked in, the first 30 seconds when I saw that, it was just me and the monument, and the rest everything just faded away. It was that kind of, I mean, I was telling John, it's not just a visual tree. It's more of an experience that you carry on all your life once you see it.

So that's about Taj, yeah. - So we go from this ancient monument to a monument that many Americans aren't quite yet familiar with. And that is the Statue of Unity. This is something that the first time I saw an image of this, I thought it was someone's poor attempt to Photoshop something on the landscape. I was like, there's no way it can be this large. And what you're looking at is something quite that large.

This is Patel who Gandhi gave the title of Sardar, which is chief, and he was a member of Gandhi's inner circle. And this is the largest statue on the planet. And it's not just the largest, it's the largest by some measure. You might be able to see this comparison here of different well-known statues around the world. Statue of Liberty is basically just above his knees. And this statue is just so enormous.

There's a museum there at the base. Just because of time constraints, we got to spend a little bit of time in there, but there's an elevator that will take you up to his mid chest. And so we took the elevator up and walked around, and got a terrific view from chest height of the surrounding landscape. The statue is just ridiculous in terms of how big it is on the landscape. Absolutely incredible.

- So then from Baruda, which is on the west coast, we traveled all the way to the south, Chennai. And here what you're seeing is a Hindu temple built in, I think the 11th century. There are inscriptions inside the temple, which shows that it's from the 11th century. And the beauty of this temple is it's on a one acre land.

And on the east and west side are these entrances. So we entered through this entrance, that's when we got the picture. You'll see a five-tier entrance, or it's called a gopuram, which is of the Dravidian architecture.

So we could go inside the temple. The only restriction was you cannot have footwear, which is common at all the Hindu temples, but both of us, John and I, could go inside, see all the different shrines inside the temple, and walk around like any other person could do, so that was the first religious site that we visited. - Actually, it was the second you might remember our first one.

- Oh yeah, so yeah, that was the second. Oh, I should mention this. So we did get a chance to visit a Sikh religious site, which we call a Gurudwara in Delhi. It was a very crowded, very beautiful site. So we had the guide take us in and there was this, quite funny incident that happened. So we walked inside and there was this place where people are praying, so there's the main place where they worship.

So they worship their religious book. They do not do idle worship. So there was this religious book, and a group of people singing hymns, and people were sitting and praying. And we had to walk in front of them to see the place, and walk outside. And once we walked in, I found John to be extremely uncomfortable, refusing to look at anything around, and just wanted to get out. They had, like, really beautiful ceilings, and work on the walls, and I was trying to get John's attention to say that, okay, look at the ceiling.

And he was like, no, let's get out. And once we got out, he told me how uncomfortable he was to walk in front of people who were sitting inside and praying. And that was the first time I realized that it was not okay for many people because we always do that.

And that's not a problem for anyone because the people who were sitting inside were praying, or meditating, and they were not looking at the people who were passing by, but for John it was a very uncomfortable situation, so. - Anyway, it became a lighthearted moment for the rest of us, or for the rest of the trip. There are a number of sites throughout India, religious sites.

This is one that you might find quite notable. St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica in Chennai, same city there in Southern India. Tradition has it that Thomas, one of the 12 apostles, traveled to India and spread Christianity there. And this church claims to hold some of his remains within the structure there. And just like the Hindu temple, you're expected to take your shoes off upon entering.

In terms of the title of our talk, I'm just going to move through here. "Order In Chaos." One of our guides said that in order to understand India, you have to understand order that it's order within chaos. There are so many things that you're going to see such as the infrastructure that you're just like, this is just complete chaos here.

If you look at the electrical wiring here within this particular photo, but if you look a little bit closer, you can start to see the order within this chaos. Notice how the motorbikes are parked along the street, or if you go into a shop, one BBC reporter described India as a place that excites, and assaults the senses, whether it be the spices and the food, or the colors that you see on the street, it's quite dramatic. This is a street scene of one of the cities that we visited, and it gives you an idea of what just daily life is like. The noises, the sounds, it's just quite, quite dramatic.

All of this was done in the hopes of being able to offer a spring break study abroad trip in 2023. The dates we're looking at are Friday, March 10th, through Sunday the 19th. They'll vary maybe a day or two, depending on flight availability. There are scholarships available. And for those who are interested, we strongly encourage you to contact the Office of International Education.

If you'd like to learn more about Indian culture, there's a terrific opportunity this coming weekend. And, Suneetha, if you could quickly summarize this. - Yes, so there's a Bollywood Boulevard Club run by students in this college. And they're organizing a Holi Fest. Holi is a festival that marks the beginning of spring. We did see a glimpse of it when we traveled, where people put colors at each other, and they sing songs, and they distribute food.

So we'll be doing that on April 16th, this coming Saturday on the lawn in front of Regnier Center. So please do join us, and you'll get the first experience of an Indian festival before we plan on traveling to India next year. - Hope you can join us. - Thank you so much. And we would love to talk with anybody interested in that study abroad program. We have just a couple of minutes, and we had a question in the chat, whether the McDonald's in India actually sold beef? - So I actually stepped into one McDonald's.

It was the one in the Mumbai Airport just to see what they were offering. And the one I stepped into did not offer beef. They had a lot of chicken sandwiches. Suneetha, you might know better if some of the other ones do.

- For the most part they do not. Now, I don't know. There might be small pockets within the country where they would be serving, but for the most part they do not. And their burgers are very altered to Indian taste. So it's not the same as what we get here. - Susan, a question for you.

Could you tell us just a little bit about how you will use the course content, or what you saw and experienced in your courses? - Well, what I really am trying to get across to the students is in engineering how you really have to be aware, especially if you're designing something that is out of the Kansas City area of how the people are going to utilize it, and what are the norms in their society. And so I've got some pictures that I'll be showing, especially, like, bicycling in Denmark, and they could be working on a job in Denmark, and how they need to start building that perception, or start expanding their perception of the world. And so this is a great time to do it in the freshman and sophomore years, because as they go into their design classes, they've planted that seed.

- I suppose, also, all the comments you made about lighting would affect design in Finland. - Sure, that was so interesting, 'cause that was something that I hadn't even really thought about. And so I learned a lot. - I wanted to ask John and Suneetha, what do you hope that the students who travel with you will learn about India, or what will they come home saying about India? - That's a great question, and we're probably going to have two slightly different responses here for this.

For me, I would love to have students come back with two things. One is international travel is not as scary as what it might seem upfront. And so, like, being able to do something like this, hopefully, this opens up doors for future travel, and future understanding of different people groups around the world, but in addition to that, to India specific, I hope they come back understanding that this is a country that's quickly emerging as a global superpower. And there's this rich cultural diversity as well as rich cultural history in the subcontinent, and to witness both the cultural aspects as well as the STEM subjects that are quickly developing with India, I think would be terrific.

One of the sites that we hope to visit next year, it was closed because of the pandemic, is an Indian space agency site that's roughly the equivalent of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Tom, or Suneetha, but, yeah. - I was about to say, like, I hope when students travel, I hope they see that it is okay to be different, and still you can exist together because everybody is different, and they follow different traditions and culture, and language and still they all live together, so it's okay to be different.

- Lots of head nodding among the audience there. Good luck to you, I hope you do instill that. Tom, question. - Yeah, first of all, I wanna thank John and Suneetha and Susan for following up on their UISFL grant proposal to go ahead with this. And my question is the help that you had in organizing your excursions, would you like to say a few words on who you used, and how it turned out? - Such as yourself and Janette and Brooke, if you're getting at that. We were really fortunate to have the support that we do from Johnson County Community College.

Without a question we have to give a tip of the hat to Anthony and Melinda for all the grant work. This college is really, really fortunate to have those two on our larger team to help out with the grant writing, to make a trip like this possible. The science department was very supportive of me. I got some additional funds for this particular trip through the science department. So Mary and Lori, the dean and chair, my dean and chair, both, a lot of help there. Suneetha, well, Vince, sorry, yeah.

- The grant office, the International Education, and definitely my department. It wouldn't have been possible if Tom and Vince had not nodded their head at the time when I shared this idea of mine it would not have, because it was just an idea in my head, and I never thought it would work. I just shared it during a division meeting, and they gave me the green signal, and asked me to get started with that, so, yeah. - We have one more question, and then we need to go. It's in the chat, Suneetha. One of our participants, yeah, can you answer that? - We had very well organized in this college by the Bollywood Boulevard Club last year in September.

And I think they would be doing that again next year. If not, there are a couple of other places in the Kansas City area where they organize that in September. And I can share that information when it's around that time next year. - I'm assuming that any student can join that club, you don't have to be Indian? - Oh, yes, no, no, it's for everybody.

- [Janette] All righty. - If I may just one last comment related to Indians accepting others, stepping foot in that Hindu temple, not being Hindu, they couldn't have cared less. I mean, I was a point of curiosity, but they were very, very welcoming, and throughout the country they were very welcoming as well.

- Well, I so appreciate Susan, John, and Suneetha for your time, your preparation, just your travel, your vision, and for how our students have been, and will continue to be impacted by all that you're doing. So, thanks so much. Thanks to all of you for attending today's session.

This is our final Explore the World for this academic year. Hopefully, we'll be back in the fall, and we will see you then. You will get a follow-up email with a link to today's recording if you wanna share it far and wide with others who should be learning about these fascinating countries.

2022-05-01 06:44

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