Aravind Pre-Departure Introduction – Sage

Happy Spring!

With the school year just coming to a close and June fast approaching, I am beyond excited to get to introduce myself, my interests, and my expectations for this summer as an Aravind intern in Madurai!

My name is Sage Leland and I am a rising sophomore in Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences. I plan on pursuing a biophysics major with computer science and chemistry minors. Outside of the classroom, I am involved in dance and music on Penn’s campus through Penn Dance, a modern dance company, and Penn Chamber, in which I play the violin.

My love for the arts is a big reason I am drawn to the diverse culture in India; I cannot wait to be immersed in the vibrant dance, food, and music scene in Tamil Nadu. One of my goals while in Madurai is to learn a bit of Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian style of dance found in the south. I’ll keep the blog posted on how that progress goes, but without knowing Tamil, I’m worried that some of my goals will be harder to achieve than I hope.

This will be my first time visiting India, and while I’ve traveled to China before, one can hardly compare the two. Before arriving, one of my biggest worries is not understanding the language and cultural practices. I’m worried about unintentionally offending our gracious mentors and hosts by asking questions that might be considered taboo or having trouble communicating because I don’t know the language. My mind is racing to think of what I could possibly pack because almost all of my clothes are unsuitable for India’s humid and hot summers.

Yet, despite my fears, there is so much to look forward to. I cannot wait to explore the shopping scene in Madurai, which will serve as not only a remedy to my concerns about suitable clothing but also as a way to learn more about the local peoples’ culture through what they wear. And while I might be getting scammed by the tourist offices and auto rickshaw drivers because I am a foreigner and don’t speak the language, it will be a small price to pay relative to the perspective I hope to gain during my time in Madurai.

While at Aravind, I am particularly looking forward to having the opportunity to work on projects that tangibly impact the well-being of patients. We leave in just over two weeks, and I am still grasping with the idea that Ashna, Eric, Achint and I will be working with such a vast global healthcare system.

Here’s to the next two weeks blowing by! Next stop, Delhi on June 1st.

One thought on “Aravind Pre-Departure Introduction – Sage

  1. Lesson learned 56 years ago in Karnataka (Mysore State then), talk with and listen to kids and their critique of your talk. Got me pretty fluent in Kannada in a month or two.

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About sageleland

Sage Leland is from the San Francisco Bay Area in California. She is a class of 2026 student in the College and is majoring in Biophysics with a minor in Computer Science. Sage is dedicated to learning and exploring the intersections between science and technology, with a particular interest in the ways in which these fields can be applied to improve healthcare outcomes for people around the world. Sage is excited to be an intern at Aravind Eye Care System in Madurai. She is thrilled to immerse herself in Indian culture and is particularly excited to explore the music, dance, and food scene.