A few months ago I started researching international conferences I could attend as part of my research for my thesis on international rape culture and the impact of patriarchy on global media systems. What I found was a conference entitled the “Global Ethics Forum” – for years it had been run out of Switzerland, hosted in Geneva by its overarching organization. However, this year, they had changed the place – it would now be held in…BANGALORE?! AT IIMB (Indian Institute of Mangagement Bangalore), just a few km from my old neighborhood! Hosted from Jan. 3-6th, the timing could not have been more perfect.
Since I’m applying for departmental honors on my thesis, it is expected to take at least 9 months to complete. At Hollins, we usually have a very unusual independent January term – that’s how I managed to take a Vegan cooking class my first year, do an internship for CodePink DC in my sophomore year and travel to Nepal last year, my junior year. This time around, my credit was already accounted for and technically, the month is expected to be spent on working on my thesis credit.
Thankfully, this conference, especially its panel on gender equality in developing countries, matched up beautifully to my intentions for my thesis and I begun working out the logistics of getting my school to pay for my trip, unable to come up with the $1100 needed for a roundtrip ticket to Bangalore. I searched and searched, sending out emails to all of my professors, to FEA, to Hollins’ International Programs dept, even to the conference itself.
What I found were two awards – one, the Hobbie trust grant, is given to Hollins students every year to fund J-term experiences, trips and internships. Awarded at up to $700, it’s highly competitive – when I applied to use a Hobbie grant for my time in DC two years ago, I was awarded $70 out of my requested $400, definitely helpful, but had I not had the other $300 I would need to pay for the month, would not have done much to make it happen. The other grant was new, from the Batten Leadership Institute (BLI), a program at Hollins that strives to make waves by teaching women how to be effective leaders, better communicators and more well-rounded people. I’ve been working on my certification through them for the last 3 years and it has been equally the most worth-while, fulfilling, challenging and frustrating experience of my life.
Anyway, this was a new award they had never released an application award for before and I was one of a few people in the program invited to apply for it. I knew that if I got both awards, it would be both highly unlikely AND might be the only way I could afford to go. On November 6th, I got an email from BLI – “Kindra, would $400 help?” “YES” I responded, thrilled that if I did get the Hobbie grant, my flight would be covered TO THE DOLLAR! And covered it was. On November 8, I received the second reward grant, combinig to make just enough to cover my flight.
I nervously turned in my tourist visa application (a conference visa application sadly only lasts 3 or 4 days on both ends of the conference) for the month of January (it’s always terrifying to mail your real, original passport) and bought my flight. Now I just await the return of my verified visa application and I’ll be off! I leave on January 1st though technicaly don’t arrive there til the morning of Jan. 3rd, attend the conference from the 3rd to the 6th, staying with my amazing friend from last year, Abhishek, and then he, Sandy and I go travel for a week or so before I fly home on the 14th. Gloriously, my friend Shelby, whom I spent the first semester of last year with, is also coming through her new grad program and will be there to go to the conference with us!
I’m no longer technically a FEA scholar, but I wanted to post this blog entry on here because it feels important to let people know that the connections you make with a country and with its people while studying abroad don’t have to be temporary – new opportunities arise for your expansion of experience with the culture and the people who can be in your life permanently. This is my success story of a bond with a country I can never let go of. Back to BhÄrat MÄtÄ!