This is my last blog post for Niswarth 2013. Niswarth has had profound impacts on many aspects of my life, and I am grateful that I was given this unique opportunity. I remember the first night when we arrived at the MCA at 2:30 in the morning I thought to myself, “wow, I have no idea how I am going to handle India”. After three solid weeks of listening, discussing, and immersing myself into the unique culture of India I can confidently say that I have learned more in these three weeks than in any class I have ever taken in my life. I believe that I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life. From working with TFI to living in the lap of luxury with my host family I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly. In Niswarth we often talk about “The Danger of a Single Story”. Before the trip I did not think much of this concept, but now that I have lived in a variety of conditions I have realized its importance. Problems around the world cannot be solved with one simple answer; it requires the input of people from all backgrounds. I think too often we ignore the voice of the poor and only pay attention to the voice of the privileged. I have learned that this model is completely one-sided and wrong. We studied the complex issues that surround “slum development” in Dharavi. About four years ago a model was introduced that would essentially develop Dharavi into a financial giant. This plan would displace millions of residents and force them to either join other slums, or live in a tiny room in a sky rise. Initially the residents’ voices were muffled and as a result the plan almost went through.
I think the most important thing that I will take away from Niswarth is to listen to others, and see a problem from multiple perspectives. I feel very strongly about this because I believe that everybody has a unique perspective that they can offer. Through our discussions I have learned that the solution that I come up with can always be improved or tweaked by others people.