I hope everyone’s 2011 is off to a fantastic start.
It’s been forever since I last posted, but that is about to change. The last few months were packed with finishing up my graduate course work and planning the news I’m about to share with you. I will start writing on a much more frequent basis starting this month.
The reason…at the end of January, I’m temporarily moving to India.
I’ve referred to this desire to go back to India here and here. Returning has been a dream and passion of mine for the last ten years. To say that I’m excited is a severe understatement; I’ve thought nearly about jumping off the nearest cliff to see if I can fly rather than wait for my scheduled plane!
I’m going to volunteer at the Dalit Foundation and will be living in South Delhi. Delhi will be my home from February to mid-June, as I do my graduate school internship and conduct research in order to pen my Substantial Research Paper and complete my MA degree.
My project will look at the idea of conflict transformation and the experiences of Dalits (untouchables) in Indian society. Dalits, which means, “the broken,” or the “oppressed” in Sanskrit are the bottom of the Hindu caste system, but in actuality are not even counted as people. They are considered “polluters” and must be separated from the rest of society. There are an estimated 170 million of them.
This list will give you a quick snap-shot their myriad indignities.
The Dalit Foundation funds grassroots NGO’s and others who are working to restore the humanity of the Dalit people, advocate for their human rights and create capacity for leadership within their own community. They focus particularly on social justice, and place a major emphasis on the empowerment and education of women, especially young girls.
I’ll be helping the DF with their monthly newsletter and other publications, evaluating their programs, interviewing activists in the field, assisting in fund raising and advocacy endeavors. All of this will help me to understand their experience and receive a personal view of their reality.
I am humbled to be given this wonderful opportunity.
Conflict transformation for those of you who are not peace and conflict nerds as I am, is the concept that conflict can be eliminated with the transformation of hearts, minds, attitudes and mindsets of individuals. Through those changes conflict disappears, not necessarily by the resolving of differences, but by seeing the “other” in a new way. Conflict transformation is about reconstructing relationships and interactions between people. Through new relationships, the parties can attempt to work towards justice, reconciliation and building a peaceful society.
For a better idea of what CT is all about, this will provide a more detailed explanation.
My research will look at Dalit Foundation’s programs to see if/how they relate to the concepts of conflict transformation.
This adventure will be full of surprises, and since it’s India, many frustrations as well. But I’ve wanted to return to India, and live for an extended period of time, for many years. That time has finally arrived! Plus, since I’ll be going back to the land where I was born, this will be an emotional journey as well.
I will delve into my Indian-ness like never before and this endeavor will churn up a huge set of emotions. I think I’m ready for that, but honestly, I don’t know that I am. I’m just going to hop on that plane and see what happens.
I invite you to join me, as I explore my project, my relationship with India, and share my thoughts with you, as an adoptee returning to his roots.