Last week, despite week 7’s usual business, I had the opportunity to talk with the lovely Anna Pfalzgraf. Last year, Anna had the opportunity to participate in the India study abroad program which is organized by the Women and Gender Studies department. Anna is a junior from Tucson, Arizona majoring in Communications Studies and minoring in Graphic Design. Her involvement at Augustana includes Positive Impact, Student Alumni Board, Office of Residential Life, and Phi Rho sorority. She shared with Her Campus her favorite memories and lessons she learned during her adventures in India.
Why did you choose to participate in the India study abroad program?
Originally, I did not think about the India trip but I wanted to have a study abroad experience during my sophomore year. I went to the study abroad office and they introduced me to the India trip. I decided to go even though Women and Gender Studies was not related to my major. Yet I knew that I was passionate about women empowerment after reading the study abroad program description. Eventually, Augie really gave me a good opportunity to go on this trip and I met the best women on campus while I was having a good experience in a country I would not have visited by myself.
What was your favorite moment during the trip?
In Agra we went to a café called “Café Sheroes” (she and heroes). It was a café started by a man and his goal was giving agency back to women who were survivors of acid attacks. Survivors of acid attacks are shunned within their communities and they cannot get jobs. Many times they do not leave their houses after the attack and it can be a very depressing time in their lives. He started this café to give these women an outlet to work where they are accepted and gives them back their agency. This café is run by all these women and all the cooking and artwork is made by the women who work in this place. It was amazing to be in a place that is fully-run by women that are heroes, to dance with them, learn from them, and be part of their journey.
I also enjoyed going to the Taj Mahal and visiting an artist community in which people’s lives are devoted to art and dance.
What was the most important lesson that you learned from this trip?
The most important lesson that I learned from this trip is that we are all humans; we all have different backgrounds, life experiences, and cultures. This is something that our provider explained to us. In India we had the opportunity to come in contact with people from different classes and castes. Those things do not matter when it comes down to the core; we are all just humans.
What will be your message to the people who are interested in participating in the next India study abroad program?
This trip is not a leisure trip; it is going to be emotional and it is going to push you yet it is also very rewarding. It is one of the best learning experiences that I have ever had. You grow outside of your comfort zone, you meet so many amazing women, and it is a very empowering trip in which you can learn from the people you come in contact with and the different cultures you come across.