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The guiDE program provides DukeEngage alumni a pathway to continue their commitment to service and civic engagement by providing leadership, mentorship and service opportunities that support wider DukeEngage efforts on campus and beyond.



photo of Priyanka


Major: Neuroscience

Contact Priyanka:

Priyanka is a junior from Columbia, SC. She is pursuing Neuroscience with a certificate in Documentary Studies on the pre-med track. Her parents both immigrated from India before she was born. On campus she is involved in various organizations such as Bass Connections, research, and NAMI. In her free time at Duke, she loves being with friends, going to fun workout classes and watching The Office. The summer of her sophomore year, she chose to participate in the DukeEngage: Ahmedabad, India trip because of her passions for causes such as the education and empowerment of women as well as the opportunity to learn more about her ancestry. During the trip, she worked on a project that aimed to provide children of low-income families with reusable diapers to enhance the health and hygiene of these communities. This experience helped her realize her passion for medicine and global health.

Resource Guide

Following her summer working in India, Priyanka developed the following list of resources for students who are interested in that program — or similar programs.

Hindi 101: This course is an introduction to the Hindi language, the national language of India. The major goal of this class is to develop the practical ability to communicate in Hindi for day-to-day needs. This skill would be incredibly useful because even though we were taught Hindi and we were surrounded by several co-workers who could speak English at the office, our co-workers at are site usually could not speak English. This made the first half of our program more difficult as we were still trying to understand how we can effectively contribute to our projects. Even though, over the course of 8 weeks, we definitely learned a good amount of Hindi, an introductory course of Hindi could be useful.

Education 101- Foundations of Education: This course is a basic introductory course of American education. The course explores ways cultural influences and differences have shaped public schools. The course also requires participation in service-learning, so students will gain hands-on experience in education. The project I specifically worked on was related to the education of children of low-income families. As part of the project, we were asked to design a basic STEM curriculum for these children. Although taking an education course was not necessary, I felt that the project would have felt less overwhelming had I known more efficient ways to create a curriculum so I would recommend this course for future DukeEngage cohorts.

TimesIndia Right before we went to India, the nation had just completed the election of its most recent prime minister. The polls closed on May 19th and the results were declared on May 23rd. This was a huge election because the BJP party (one of the political parties in India) with their candidate, Narendra Modhi, won in a supermajority which is almost unprecedented. This information was good to know because (1) this event was a conversation starter with many co-workers at the office we were working in and (2) it was nice to understand the political climate of a country that we were going to be staying at for 8 weeks. TimesIndia is a popular news source that covers current events occurring in India. For future Duke Engage cohorts, I would recommend scanning through this news source to understand recent current events that have occurred in India.

“Muslim and Hindu: Sensitive Areas” Culture and religion are rooted so deeply into day-to-day life in India. One of the biggest conflicts that still permeates life in India today is the conflict between Hindus and Muslims. One of the programs under Saath, the NGO we were working for, is called Balghar. This program helps Muslims who have been inflicted with poverty because the government does not give them proper resources. Saath hires teachers to teach children of these Muslim families. Although learning about this conflict is not vital to your Duke Engage experience, I still think it is important to know about how religion still affects socioeconomic status in India. This article by “The Atlantic”, though published in 1958, does a good job of explaining the situation in unbiased terms.



“India and Hindu Muslim Unity | Ram Puniyani” This video is correlated with the article from The Atlantic. This video is a Tedx Talk by a writer activist and former Professor of IIT Mumbai, Ram Puniyani. It’s a 20-minute long Ted Talk that beautifully goes through the history of the Hindu-Muslim conflict from the time of British Imperialism to the Gandhi assassination to the present status of Hindus and Muslims. This couples well with the article from “The Atlantic” as this video goes more in-depth into the content and also provides an unbiased view of the conflict.

3 Idiots– Bollywood movie Before going on this trip, I started to watch a couple popular Bollywood movies I found on Netflix. One of the most popular movies is one called “3 Idiots” that explores the issues of the competitive nature of Indian schools. Though most Bollywood movies do not necessarily address the cultural and social climate of India, they provide a good context of what Indian culture is like. It also gives some exposure to the Hindi language which I believe is nice to get accustomed to before going to India. Additionally, this movie was very easy to understand and many people who have had no previous exposure to Indian culture will be able to follow along.

The Thali The Thali is an amazing Indian restaurant in Durham, NC. A thali is an Indian dish consisting of various small platters of Indian vegetables and bread. It is named after the steel platter it is typically served on. In Ahmedabad, a thali is a typical meal that people grab when they are in a hurry or feeling particularly hungry. It is an amazing experience that is unique to India. This restaurant also gives a variety of Indian cuisines from South Indian food to North Indian food, so the student can get a taste of all types of Indian food. This would be a fun and easy cultural immersion activity to do before going to India.

Diwali on Campus: One of the biggest festivals in India is Diwali, festival of lights. At Duke, the premier Indian organization of campus, Diya, puts together a small Diwali function with a service at the chapel. Afterwards, there is a dance called Garba, which is one of the many forms of classic dances of India. Any Duke student can come. It’s a great way to get exposure to the language, culture and food.