Alexandra Card – Detroit-London-Delhi

Less than 24 hours stand between me and my departure to the airport for my flight to London, the first stop on my journey to India.  I currently am experiencing a mixture of excitement and anxiety about my upcoming trip as I think about what is to come.  Less than one week ago I was in Ann Arbor taking my last final exam.  I’m feeling a little bit of whiplash with the quick change of events.  The past week has mostly involved me trying to spend as much time with friends and family in my hometown before I leave.  My time in India will be my first time out of North America and my first time viewing a world that does not look like the typical American landscape.  I am most nervous for the logistics of getting to this new place and navigating through an unfamiliar city and new culture.  However, I am lucky to already have a couple contacts in Delhi who will hopefully be able to assist me in learning how to adapt to a different lifestyle.

In India I will be working in New Delhi at the NGO Safai Karamchari Andolan, which is led by Bezwada Wilson.  The organization works to eradicate manual scavenging in India and looks to find more dignified occupations for individuals who worked in manual scavenging.  I first became aware of Bezwada’s work upon hearing him speak at a Social Justice in South Asia Conference hosted by the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan.  I previously had been unaware of what manual scavenging was, but Bezwada’s passionate words and first hand experience dealing with the effects of manual scavenging led me to research more into the subject.  As a pre-law student interested in going into civil rights law, the issue and its role in Indian society and law is very intriguing to me.  I am very grateful to be able work with Bezwada and learn from his personal experiences at the forefront of a social justice movement in India.

I will be living in Jangpura, a neighborhood of Delhi, with a child rights lawyer named Anant. As someone who is involved in another field of civil rights law, I am also interested to learn about what Anant’s job looks like and what sort of issues he tackles.  His apartment also has an outdoor terrace that overlooks a lovely public park, which is an added bonus.   The apartment is a bit of a distance from my work, so my morning commute will likely involve two rickshaw rides and a trip on the metro.  However, I have been told that a commute is part of the experience of living in Delhi.

The next two and a half months are unlike anything I have done before, so I’m not quite sure what they will bring to me.  However, I am excited for something that is completely new and the opportunity to experience a different part of the world firsthand.