NISWARTH = NON SIBI*
*NOT FOR ONESELF
Niswarth is a Tang Institute at Andover Learning in the World program which brings together people and ideas from across the globe. It focuses on multiple perspectives, it works to identify and understand context, and it digs into the complexity of pressing issues within communities. We put students into an unfamiliar context and then invite them to examine the connections between our external views of the wider world and our internal reactions to new experience. As we discover these connections, we emphasize the practice of humility and patience, questioning our assumptions and habits, recognizing our shared humanity, examining our obligations of empathy and our need to understand others. Connecting knowledge, goodness, action, and reflection in a continuous cycle, we gain a sense of purpose and a sense of meaningful connection with those around us.
"Once students are exposed to a level of complexity and diversity and understand that they can make a difference, there is no going back."
Raj Mundra, Director of Niswarth
Niswarth (Hindi for “not for self”) is a Learning in the World program at Phillips Academy Andover which brings together people and ideas from across the globe. The Niswarth program focuses on engaging multiple perspectives, identifying and understanding context, and digging into the complexity of pressing issues within communities. We immerse students into an unfamiliar context and then invite them to examine the connections between our external views of the wider world and our internal reactions to new experience.
Since 2004, our curriculum has built a kind of understanding that connects scholarship and friendship with field experiences and internal reflection.
The keys to our work:
Prioritize relationships, and not projects
Approach our learning with an open-mind and open-heart
Engage with a Design for Change framework with local partners to respond to community issues
Learn from multiple perspectives
Emphasize empathy, humility and gratitude in every aspect of our projects
Learn from India, poverty, communities and development
Reflect often, through writing curriculum that is a layered and iterative process including journals, free writes, blog posts and summer projects
Prepare and continue learning, through orientation and post-program work in the school community
The Niswarthian approach to experiential learning takes place in communities that are different from our school campus. We seek to spark a depth of reflection and action that is sustained for years after the program. Andover students report meaningful learning, deep engagement with community issues, and developing skills to understand complexity and practice small acts of kindness. Students from our community partner schools report improved English skills, increased confidence in working on local projects, an “I can” attitude, developing global friendships, and an increased motivation to attend college. Institutional benefits both intended and unintended have also emerged over time.
We are eager to share our comprehensive approach and to invite a larger discussion amongst teachers and schools. We look forward to learning from your experiences and to working collaboratively to design experiential encounters that serve schools and communities, both locally and globally.
Asst. Dean of Students and Residential Life
"In writing, I could explore an observation from a hectic day and unpack it, pushing myself to dig deeper and discover connections outside of the moment. In the honesty and vulnerability inspired by deep reflection, I believe that praxis became an essential habit in maintaining empathy as one of the core values of Niswarth."
Ryan Miller, PA '14, Niswarth '13
Writing is a core aspect of the Niswarth curriculum, and throughout each program, students take time to reflect on their experiences in our blog. Feel free to explore our most recent entries below, or visit our full blog.
In the News
December 11: Lessons in Trust and Teamwork for PA Athletes in India (andover.edu)
December 10: Context Matters (Rajesh Mundra, Phillipian)
July 31: The Power of Reflection: Niswarth Program Puts Praxis into Practice (Janine Ko, Tang Institute Blog)
December 12: PEA, PA to Host Joint Trip to India (Tommy Song, Exonian)
November 14: Exeter to join Niswarth Summer Program (Stephan Min, Phillipian)
Fall: "How Much Can You Trust A Smile?: Pedagogical Reflections from Phillips Academy's Niswarth Program" (Andrew Housiaux, Independent Teacher Magazine)
October 12: "Burst Bubbles, Broken Windows" (Jordan Boudreau, Phillipian)
October 5: Students share their experience in India during Niswarth Night (andover.edu)
December 26: “Hindi for ‘Non-Sibi’” (Supriya Jain, Phillipian)
Fall: “The Changemakers: Taking Service to the Next Level” (Raj Mundra, Independent Teacher Magazine)
April 2: Alum’s Documentary Details Academy’s Service-Learning Program in Mumbai, India (andover.edu)
December 29: “Does Community Service Really Change Anything?” (Raj Mundra, Christian Science Monitor)
September 18: In Conversation with Raj Mundra (Ranjani Saigal, Lokvani)
August 24: Students Join Hands for Sustainable Change (Priya Ramakrishnan, DNA India)
June 19: Niswarth Service-Learning Program Begins India Adventure; Follow Their Blog (andover.edu)
May 20: Niswarth 2008 Sets Ambitious Goals for Mumbai Summer Program (andover.edu)
"Develop relationships, not results-oriented projects. Work to understand people, and we will deepen our understanding of who we are and what our relationships mean. We will start to see that we are all interconnected, our journeys are intertwined. My well-being is intimately connected with yours."
Jayesh Patel of Manav Sadhna
The Niswarth program has been supported by several organizations and individuals: The Abbot Academy Association, Navroze Godrej ’01 and his family who have hosted the teachers and students, and grants from many Phillips Academy families and individuals. Over the past 12 years, Niswarth has partnered with many organizations in Mumbai and Ahmedabad who understand the goals of the Niswarth program. They have created opportunities in which Niswarth students can contribute in different ways to their on-going work in local communities.
These organizations have inspirational leadership, are involved in connecting schools and communities at various levels, and have been wonderful hosts.
"This is the first time that I’ve started to think that maybe it’s about doing something because you believe in the good of your actions – not in the promise and satisfaction of the results."
Arzu Singh, PA '16, Niswarth '14
Beyond Niswarth, Andover students have shared their experiences in classrooms, communities, in conversations with family and friends, in colleges and in their workplace. Learning in a context that is so unfamiliar has encouraged Niswarth graduates to ask some basic questions about social structures in and out of the classroom, and students have gone on to pursue many projects in communities around the world.
Brandon Wong '12
“Niswarth was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. There is no other three weeks of my life that were as intensive nor as instrumental in shaping how I view a range of issues, from global poverty to education disparities in Mumbai, and the different ways of achieving social change. Social entrepreneurship became one of my greatest passions as a result of the trip, and I owe many of my experiences post-PA graduation to Niswarth. I would never have ended up interning at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in Washington D.C., nor joining some of the social innovation initiatives at UNC, if it weren’t for Niswarth. When I look back on my time at PA, Niswarth changed the way that I see the world quite unlike any other experience.”
Hilary Fischer-Groban '05
Going on the pilot of the Niswarth program in 2004 opened my eyes to the big, messy, complicated and wonderful world of modern India. Since then, I dedicated myself to finding out more. I moved to Mumbai in September 2010 on an American India Foundation Clinton Fellowship and am currently managing communications for ICICI Foundation, a corporate non-profit funded by India's largest private bank.
Hilary spent some time in December, 2004 working at a government school in Mumbai. There she developed presentations on children's rights and taught in a third grade classroom.
After Phillips Academy, I graduated from Brown University where I majored in South Asian studies. I spent a semester conducting field research in rural Gujarat, (quite a change from the slums of Mumbai!) and wrote a thesis on second-generation South Asian Americans. Prior to my fellowship and moving to India, I worked at Harvard Business Review Group and conducted research in organizational behavior and theory at Harvard Business School. While working at Harvard Business School, I co-authored a case study about international perspectives on quotas for female board members.