farmland on the way to Fatehpur Sikiri
Our first full day in India was a road trip to Fatehpur Sikiri in Agra. The route we took is a four hour hop from Delhi. The landscape changes to farmland as we traveled toward Agra. Seeing scenery like this is bittersweet, its comforting to see it has not changed much. The Slow Food movement and Farm to Table people would love it. Then again, about two hours into the trip I saw a farmer plowing the land with a plow and one ox. Then two or three fields later I see another farmer doing the same job with a fairly modern tracker. Literally a distance of thousands of years in farming technology.
Poverty takes many shapes.
For me this is a homecoming of sorts. I left India with my family when I was a child. That last time I visited was almost 15 years ago. But,that was to a different part of the country. So while much is familiar to me, its all first impressions.
That being said. People tend to remember smells more vividly than things they see. And for me I could tell I was in India when I came out of the plane at the Delhi airport.
On the first full day in this beautiful country with some of the most friendly people I’ve ever encountered, I felt overwhelmed with the sights and sounds that surrounded me. The blast of warm, humid air as it hit me. The constant cacophony of car horns and bustling people. The vibrant, beautiful saris that drape the Indian women. The green parrots, roaming cows, wild dogs and camels. The constant smell of smoke and the haze-filled views. The endless traffic with cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicyclists, pedestrians and more. But most of all, the beautiful smiles of Indians who are proud to share their country, life and heritage with others.
Today was a perfect first day to spend time getting grounded in some of the realities of life in this country. I look forward to learning more about policies and goals for the education system in a country that has a very different culture than our own.
Day 1 in India exceeded my expectations in many ways as we made our way by bus form New Delhi to Agra to visit Fatehpur Sikri. The ride took us through many miles of farmland where cows, goats, and camels captured our view intermixed with traffic, honking horns, and vibrantly colored sarees draped on the women riding on the back of countless motorcycles. The smog was thick making the the sunrise and sunset both glow and beautiful reminding me of a Denver inversion, only 100 times more intense.
The people are beyond friendly and those that work tourists for Rupees are cunning and
friendly. My empathy for those on the streets working to make a dime arose to levels I’ve not felt before. I knew giving any money to one would only invite more, but I gave all my American coin to 3-4 boys creating a larger group looking for more. Another worked a colleague until she was comfortable getting 4 bracelets for less than a 1/4 of the initial price.
Fatehpur Sikri was stunning as a 16th century Imperial complex. The city was sprawling giving us a glimpse into a time past with stray dogs, parakeets, and locals sharing our space. This one picture does not come close to expressing this wonderful glimpse to the past.
My eyes were wide open as I experienced the day – a day like no other I’ve lived. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to day 2 at the Taj Mahal.
As we get ready to travel to India and meet with educators, students, parents and policy makers the CoSN Senior Delegation is grateful to have the opportunity to learn how India is meeting the needs of its 21st century learners. We look forward to great conversations, inspiring cultural experiences and lessons learned to bring back home to the United States.
Packing for 80+ degree weather in Delhi as I wake to heavy snow in Denver. I have a feeling the extreme differences between Denver and Delhi will expand beyond the weather forecasts. Looking forward to this adventure!
The attached graphic was created as a way to compare and contrast key population stats on India and the United States. As a visual learner, it helps me internalize what CoSN stated, “The extent of the enterprise in India is enormous – its population is 1.27 billion as compared to 319 million in the US. More than 50% of its population is below the age of 25.”
The growing school age population presents challenges and opportunities for the most populous democracy in the world. I’m looking forward to exploring, learning and sharing this experience with our our CASE members. CASE (Colorado Association of School Executives) has a mission of empowering education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking in order to deliver on the promise of public education. CASE will blog about this trip on our website as well — our 2,500 members will be able to follow along.
On a more personal note, my goals are to become better informed, more thoughtful, and more understanding of multicultural differences. Looking forward to the journey…