Hello world! My name is Geneva Gondak and I will be interning at Samaj Pragati Sahyog (SPS), in rural Madhya Pradesh this summer. Over the past week as I said my goodbyes to friends and acquaintances alike, multiple people asked how they could contact me or learn more about what I will be up to this summer. My response was always that 1. I should have limited internet access and thus will be able to receive emails (and eventually respond, no promises on speed here!), and that 2. I will be keeping this blog to detail my experiences. Surprisingly enough, many people asked me to send them a link. So, hey there friends, family and strangers alike: welcome to my CASI blog!
As this first post is meant to be an introduction, let me introduce myself. I just finished my second year at Penn, where I am majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy & Application. I am also minoring in Environmental Science and may be trying to pick up a language certificate in Spanish. I have always been interested in India and luckily had the chance to visit for the first time earlier this year. However, I was not able to visit Madhya Pradesh where SPS is located. The SPS headquarters is in Bagli tehsil, which is approximately 40 miles east of the city of Indore.
My interests in environmental issues and sustainable development are what initially drew me to SPS. I am extremely interested in the complex, interdisciplinary issues that concern our natural environment, especially the relationship between the environment and development. SPS is an organization dedicated to improving rural livelihoods in central India through a variety of initiatives. The organization facilitates village self-help groups, runs agriculture and livestock programs, implements watershed and irrigation projects, runs a public food distribution program, employs women through for its clothing brand, and contributes to research and state/national policy advocacy.
As I boarded my flight this morning it finally really hit me that this is in fact really happening, which left me full of excitement and a bit of nervousness over what is to come in the next 12 weeks. Anyways, at this point (hour 8 of my 15.5 hour flight…) I simply cannot wait to touch down in Delhi and embrace the 111-degree day that is waiting for me! Bye until next time!