Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Touring the College

            I finally got to meet with Dr. Jolly, which has confirmed my initial impressions that she is an amazing woman!  We talked for awhile in her office this morning about my goals for the stay and then she took me for a blitz tour around campus.  I tend to think that I walk fast and my legs are probably twice as long as hers, but I had to jog to keep up as she showed me dozens of labs and introduced me to a million people.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I retained any of their names but she’s trying to get many of them involved in making my visit as valuable as possible.  She wanted the elementary school teachers to arrange a visit to local schools but since most are in summer vacation, they will try to find a workshop or something to attend.  She introduced me to history professors who will tell me about Delhi’s history over tea or a walking tour.  And she said that she'd talk to the physical education people about allowing me to join in on the early morning informal yoga party (well that's my terminology haha) for students and faculty.  
The College is much bigger than it looked the first night I went exploring.  Dr. Jolly said many of the facilities are too small or rundown since India did not value education for decades but with the recent push to be economically competitive, many grants are slowly becoming available to improve the Colleges.  Some rooms and laboratories are beautifully renovated and equipped with computers but the majority of the classrooms seem quite antiquated.  Supposedly, the three thousand girls attending Miranda House have competitive but not the best marks upon entering the college but the school prides itself on having one of the best learning curves in the country. It's also incredibly historic- built around 1948, and named after some English man's daughter & favorite actress.
            Supposedly, the postponed timing of the examinations (it sounds like there were some problems with the administration during this school year) have made it difficult to arrange the teacher workshops that were originally scheduled.  She hopes they will find enough teachers to come three days next week for workshops, which I can observe and help with.  She said she can ask the warden to find students in the physical science to informally interview regarding the gender issues that I originally proposed.  She also invited me to the closing ceremonies of the Math Olympiad and a press conference she will be speaking at a couple weekends from now.  She said the activities will pick up during the beginning of June when undergraduates come for the exploratory science camp so she suggested I plan my trips to the Taj Mahal and other New Delhi attractions this coming weekend.
            Then I was whisked off with my friend Charlise from the first day to exchange money at the bank (I couldn’t do it yesterday because of the holiday).  That was an ordeal but at least now I’ve got Indian currency.  I also stopped by the post office next door, looking for purchasing many postcard stamps to the US and after about five minutes of conversation, I got enough postage to mail one letter to the US.  So I’m probably going to wait until I return to the States before sending postcards but don’t worry- I plan to write plenty!
            I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing now- Dr. Jolly indicated she wanted to meet with me later this afternoon to go over the academic aspect of my visit but then they told me to return to the hostel.  Without having phones or consistent access to the internet, it’s been interesting trying to get ahold of people.  That reminds me- I really need to figure out how to reset my watch- I haven’t been wearing it because I set it to a random time that doesn’t correspond to the US or IST.  So its been interesting living without knowing the time, not knowing what people are saying around me most of the time but everyone is taking very good care of me!
           Until later- I guess I should try to hunt down Dr. Jolly after lunch and she said she wants to give me a nighttime tour of the University of Delhi, which supposedly has a lot of history.  I guess the British ruled from the current Vice Chancellor’s house.  I went through the grounds briefly during my bank exchange outing and the house is surrounded by beautiful gardens.  I also saw the stadium that was recently constructed to host the 2010 Commonwealth games, an international rugby championship.  Unfortunately, the country hasn’t turned over the facility to the university so it hasn’t been used since the competition eight months ago but the facilities are impressive from afar.
Miranda House Campus

Not too many people playing tennis this time of year!