Incredible how fast a city can grow in a year. Incredible you truly are, India! Proudly decorating every freeway are hand-painted murals promoting environmental cleanliness. (Can you imagine? In a place where the amount of trash outnumbers the extraordinary population density…) The movement toward a swachh Bharat (‘clean India’) is moving faster than a seasoned auto-rickshaw driver in a hurry to scadoodle past the holy cow–literally–in the middle of rush-hour traffic. Last summer when I was in Mumbai, I could not read Hindi, so perhaps I am just now noticing the city-wide movement toward a green environment as a result of my multilingual literacy. Either way, whether the murals were here last year or not, I feel so proud of Mumbai and so hopeful whenever my auto does its scadoodling past a mural declaring cleanliness as a trait situated next to godliness. Give Mumbai another year. Just one more. I cannot even imagine the transformations this crazy beautiful place will make. Will it be recognizable? Stay tuned to find out. (Or just read the news.)
Since my last blog post, I have had some down-time to fully embrace the tourist aspect of my identity. It is an aspect I so desperately try to suppress when I am traveling; who wants to be that person, anyway? With a GoPro in my left hand and one liter of Bisleri bottled water in my right, I waddled down to South Mumbai to snap a picture of the Gateway of India. (JK, I don’t have a GoPro, but you can bet your bottom dollar I have a bottle of water. Too much hot here. No such thing as over-hydrating in weather like this.)
To be honest, my first impression of the Gateway of India was quite underwhelming. Was I looking at a mini L’arc de Triomphe, or an obvious representation of colonialism and White supremacy? I must admit that I haven’t done too much historical investigating on the topic, so maybe my impression of the monument is off-kilter. Either way, I did, in fact, snap a photo for the #gram! Check it #out.
Moving on to less-touristy adventures. Melita and I are working on cross-checking some surveys given to the households in the community. The surveys were conducted to gather information about familial compositions as well as the presence of mental illness and drug abuse within the community. As excited as I am to churn the numbers and to analyze the data, cross-checking 2,500 three-page packets in Excel is exhausting. Behold, a photograph of the monster in my recurring nightmares. Viewer discretion is advised.
Along similar lines, I am also independently entering surveys given to the girls at the schools at which I am teaching computer science. The goal of these surveys is to assess the students’ interest in academics and their academic/career goals, to understand in which subjects their interest is the strongest, in which it’s the weakest, and to evaluate their grasp of basic scientific knowledge. Are the girls able to name scientists, both men and women? Are they able to differentiate chemical elements from other scientific jargon? What do they picture when they hear the words “scientist” and “engineer”? Can they accurately arrange the colors of the rainbow, the planets of the solar system, and major cities across the globe? Survey says…
Survey says that some of the students think Obama is a scientist, and that Albert Intestine was the Father of Mathematics. Survey also says that the girls have big dreams. Like going into the solar system, for instance. Like becoming prime minister, giving free health care to the poor, and even collecting butterflies. Or my personal favorite, “I will enjoy all that which I like to do.”
Survey says these girls can see bright futures for themselves, but could definitely be a little better equipped to tackle the obstacles preventing them from reaching their goals. And that, my friends, is where The Girls and Science Project comes into play.
Until next week!