I think the students were informed during an exam today that Americans were coming today. And so they spent the afternoon with us.
They synthesized site-based projects they have conducted around Trivandrum over their last term. Subjects ranged from traditional Keralan architectural principles to water quality. The students’ comprehensive observations and presentation abilities, spoken and utilizing Illustrator/InDesign-type software is impressive and makes me realize the benefit of having frequent peer and professor review sessions for both accountability and skill development. It’s fun to see students on the other side of the world doing very similar work to my cohort of students: reporting on the existing conditions of a site, representing and analyzing the data, and making recommendations.
A few women in the program were very sociable with me and I enjoyed a conversation with them about their lives. I was told that for woman in Kerala education is very important before marriage. This helps establish a woman’s independence in the family she joins at marriage. I also asked: Do you go out at night? Do you feel safe on the streets as a woman? What role does the dowry still play in your lives? Are things changing in Trivandrum? I was surprised that the 3 women all agreed that after 7 pm it is dangerous to be out. I already knew that there was no night life for women in Trivandrum. The women were very open and analytical about this situation. They didn’t think the social situation would change too quickly, perhaps in the more cosmopolitan city of Cochin.
I wish we had more time to work with the students on a project or present our experience here as a form of exchange.