PITTSBURGH-A group of 15 CCAC Honors students embarked on the adventure of a lifetime when they journeyed to India last month for an 11-day international study tour. It was the second time the CCAC Honors program has traveled to India; the first trip took place in January 2016.
To prepare for the experience, the students took three Honors courses: a political science course comparing the politics and cultures of the U.S. and India, a service learning course focused on service projects for two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India, and an art appreciation course conducted during the trip. During the tour, the students, accompanied by five Honors faculty members, performed community service, attended lectures at universities, met with government officials, visited cultural and historical sites such as the Taj Mahal, and much more. The group also journeyed to the Himalayas to visit Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama.
As exciting as the sight-seeing was, the highlight for the students was visiting the NGOs for which they had begun working early in the fall semester. In Delhi, they spent an entire day at Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute (SSMI), an NGO devoted to empowering poor women and children to break the cycle of poverty. The students were pleased to share what they had produced for SSMI: a fundraising brochure, an annual report on the community eye program and a check for $1,038.
In Dharamsala, the students visited two more NGOs: the Tibetan Children's Village and the Tibetan Women's Association. At the Tibetan Children's Village, they also presented a check for $1,038, the other half of the NGO funds they had raised. While at the campus, the students read stories to the younger children and helped the older students clean up debris around a lake. They also learned about the issues faced by Tibetan refugees.
"I get emotional thinking about some of the experiences we had with the children at the Tibetan Children's Village and the women at Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute," said CCAC Honors student Carmen Miller. "While the sight-seeing in India was amazing, I found it to be much more rewarding and impactful to interact with and provide service to the people."
To learn more about CCAC's Honors program, visit ccac.edu/honors.