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Student Photo Gallery: India

India. The land of tea and spices, natural beauty, and man-made splendor. Our students fanned out far and wide across the sub-continent to explore the hustle and bustle of Delhi, hike the foothills of the Himalayas, and find peace in the tranquility of Munnar’s tea plantations. These are the best student photos from the seventh port of Semester at Sea’s Spring 2014 voyage.

Scott Sturges from North Idaho College visited the famous Taj Mahal. “The impressive monument lives up to all of the hype and it is truly amazing to see all of the effort put into the details of the building.”
On his way to the Delhi Metro station in Paharganj, Michael Jarosz from the British Columbia Institute of Technology was lured into a small Shiva mandir by Indian women singing devotional songs, known as bahjans. “When I walked in, the women welcomed me into their singing circle, bringing out a mat for me to sit on. I also met the Brahmin priest in charge of the mandir, as well as his granddaughter. He treated me to chai, showed me his room, and conducted a puja ritual. The hospitality was unmatched by any other place of worship I’ve been to so far in this journey.”¬†
Rachel Marra from the State University of New York New Paltz visited the tea plantations of Munnar while on a Semester at Sea Field Program. “The people who work on the tea plantations earn only $3 per day, but are given free health care and education for themselves and their families as part of a long-standing agreement. We learned a lot about the history and process of manufacturing tea while hiking through these beautiful and seemingly endless plantations, surrounded on all sides by a sea of bright green.¬†Compared to the cities in India it was very quiet and peaceful, our surroundings were absolutely breathtaking.”
While walking with friends on the streets of Kumbalangi Island in Kochi, Daichi Ishikawa from McGill University was invited into a local primary school. “We just peeked into the school yard and were immediately swarmed by curious children until the teachers eventually asked us to come inside. We all had cameras so we taught them how to take photos, my friend was showing this girl how to apply filters on her Instagram shots. They were all very quick learners and there were some great photos taken by the time we left.”
While on a Semester at Sea Field Program, Karly Jorling from Miami University found Indian architecture to be her favorite out of the ports visited so far. “The architecture of this area is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim influence. The original structures built by the Hindus were demolished and rebuilt to represent Islam when Mohammed Ghori, a Muslim, defeated the last Hindu ruler in 1198. The Qutb Minar tower was built to celebrate the victory, and the first mosque in Delhi was also constructed at the bottom of the tower.”
Left: Michael Jarosz from the British Columbia Institute of Technology took this photo of a caretaker and his elephant during a local Shiva temple festival in Kochi. “This festival was unlike anything I’ve seen — I counted at least 15 elephants standing calmly side-by-side in a neat line facing the temple. The precision and discipline was unbelievable, amidst roughly a hundred musicians who were playing drums and clashing cymbals in front of them.
Right: Patricio Margain from the Instituto Tecnol√≥gico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey made friends with some local children while at a silk market in Delhi on a Semester at Sea Field Program. “We met these kids and played with them for a while. Although we didn’t speak the same language, we communicated perfectly through laughter and smiles. As we left we gave them bracelets with the Guatemalan flag, it was our own little way of marking our short but memorable time together.”
Josiah Savig of Colorado State University took this photo on the Keralan Homestay field program. “On the morning of the second day, we stopped by a local school as the kids were arriving to take their exams. We had fun chatting, singing and dancing with them for half an hour before they had to return to their classrooms. I took this photo on my way out, I hope I didn’t distract this girl too much from her studies.”
While on a Semester at Sea Field Program Courtney Smith from Transylvania University visited Varanasi, a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus. “The Ganges River is a very sacred place for Hindus and they hold many ceremonies and rituals in the river in order to build good karma. On an early morning boat ride down the River in Varanasi, I was able to witness the rituals and ceremonial cremations. It was quite an incredible experience.”
Nora Benson from the University of Illinois Urbana shared a cup of chai with a local shop owner in Agra. “He was very excited that we were from the US and we ended up spending about an hour in his shop talking and trying on kurtas. I learned from the experience was to be open to everyone you meet and because you never know when your most meaningful travel memories will happen.”
Elizabeth Hilstrom from Stanford University experienced the warmth of Indian hospitality first-hand. “After stumbling upon a late-night Hindu festival, we met a fabulously independent lady who was concerned about us getting safely back to the ship and offered to let us sleep at her home for the night.¬† The woman in the picture is her gardener, photographed the morning after the festival as she meticulously groomed the lawn with a coconut-leaf broom.”
Jessica Mercier from the¬†College of Charleston found a unique perspective while visiting the Taj Mahal with a Semester at Sea Field Program. “I peeked through this opening in the wall of the Taj towards one of the three adjacent red sandstone buildings, and saw two young men chatting on the foundation of the mosque. It created a great atmosphere so I quickly snapped this photo. Affection between men is a sign of friendship in India and it’s not uncommon to find two men holding hands walking down the street, it’s definitely a nice change from back home.”
Josiah Savig of Colorado State University was struck by the friendliness of the locals. “One thing I noticed while walking around the streets of Kochi was the number of older men and women, dressed in a variety of traditional and western clothing, most of whom were willing to have a conversation. I wish I had more time to stop and hear about the life of this fascinatingly deep blue-eyed friendly old man, and that he spoke English, or that I spoke Malayalam.”
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