Acceptance of the Unfamiliar

Hello! My name is Sophie Walsh and I am a member of the Class of 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania. I am studying general anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences and I am currently considering taking on a religious studies minor. This summer I will be interning at the Naandi Foundation in the Araku Valley alongside my cointern Emma Harris.

The study of human culture and its development, also known as anthropology, is a field that before college was merely a definition for me, but presently I have found that anthropology has thoroughly incorporated itself into my daily life. The people I meet, the places I travel, the books I read, and the many other parts of my reality all contain the potential to be approached from an anthropological point of view. Having respect for each person’s background or putting into context the history of a certain place is an enlightening experience; one that I cherish. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone to view the world outside of the tiny lens one is familiar with provides a person with the wisdom to see beyond the trials and tribulations that are faced on a day to day basis. On a recent archaeological trip to Oman I experienced my first overseas version of this anthropological perspective. Visiting local farmers and their families as well as working with fellow Omani archaeologists, our team and I heard many stories about the interests of Oman’s people and even how the Western World was viewed through the Omani lens. This insight into how my personal world was viewed on their scale altered the way in which I in turn viewed theirs; an eye-opening experience to say the least.

I am extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity to live and work in India this summer as I will be exposed to an array of new experiences and people. I look forward to having one on one conversations with the people of India, most especially those in the Andhra Pradesh area. Hearing the stories of various families and seeing their homes and farms will give me insight into their own views of their country and the rest of the world. I hope to reach a new level of comfortable conversation with those that I meet as we will inevitably share a common ground of unfamiliarity and originality.

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About Sophie Walsh

Hello! My name is Sophie Walsh and I am a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying General Anthropology and considering a minor in Religious Studies. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just about 15 min away from Penn's campus! During the summer of 2019 I will be interning at the Naandi Foundation in the Araku Valley. Outside of my interest for anthropology, I enjoy playing music with the Penn Band as a member of the trumpet section. I am also a team member of Penn's Club Field Hockey Team which has been a great experience thus far. I am incredibly grateful to CASI for providing me with this opportunity to study cultural anthropology in India this summer and I look forward to all this adventure has in store for me and my fellow interns.