Skip to main content

Alternative title: In which Arthi realizes that yes, a weight scale is actually necessary for this, and frantically (hopefully successfully) tries to keep everything under the limit.

Here’s a collection of short reflections, and a hint of things to come!!


Friday, May 18th.

*drumroll please* We finally got visas! What a relief—I know this was weighing on all of our minds, especially with last year’s cohort getting delayed by 2 weeks. It still feels so surreal, hanging out with old friends at home and telling them I’m spending 2 months in India working towards women empowerment. Less than a week ago I was still at Duke to play percussion in the commencement band, and in less than a week I’ll have touched down in Kochi and (hopefully) can teach percussion, along with working on our assigned projects! Music and health, and the applications of music to cross and forge cultural boundaries, are immense passions of mine, and I really hope that I can find a way to use my love of drumming to create a better understanding between us and the students we’ll work with. The dream would be to record our drumming experiences in Kochi, and turn it into part of a photo journal—could be wishful thinking, but I’m going to try my best. After a semester learning about music used in revolutions and to share a community’s cultural history, I hope I can find a way to showcase Kochi’s through percussion.

After completing freshman year, I never thought this is how I’d be spending my summer, but I could not be any more grateful or excited. Now I can see first-hand the implications of my classes focused on global health, community service, cultural humility and competence, and music history and cultural importance, and imagine how I can integrate my experiences in India into further and future coursework.


Saturday, May 19th — Monday, May 21st.

As predicted, these days are full of packing. Somehow I always hope that my suitcases can hold more than they actually can. I am glad I ordered a lot of pairs of those billowy elephant pants—and a mosquito suit. Can’t take any chances, really. Also a lot of large markers and journals—I feel prepared with what I’m packing for lesson plans, but I’m sure I’ll get to Kochi and have forgotten something. Even though I’ve been to India once before about eight years ago, things have changed (especially what I’m going to be doing—I’m definitely going to enjoy working now more than the exhausted sightseeing I did as a little kid).

Aha I finally managed to get everything to fit!! Off to figure out an international phone plan, flight check in, meals on flights, (finishing up packing because I forgot some stuff), and packing A LOT of books to read. Time to catch up on everything I missed out on during the academic year.

Things to watch out for:

  • a lot of us will be writing journal entries, which will eventually be posted here
  • many of us will be taking photos and videos, which should also appear here
  • a few of us are sketching, composing music, doing calligraphy, drafting poems, writing extended blog posts, etc—watch out for those!
  • to follow us on our photographic adventures, our Instagram is @dukeengagekochi2018

Excited to post more updates when we hit the ground running in India!

Cannot wait to get this adventure started. Hope you’ll join us along for the ride, as we experience the culture and do our part for the community. Hopefully I packed enough mosquito repellent—only time will tell.

With great excitement!!

Arthi Kozhumam