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Brandeis-India Initiative recruiting students to apply for fellowship

Published: March 7, 2013
Section: News

The Brandeis-India Initiative provides between $500 and $2,000 for fellows who are interested in interning and spending time in India and is recruiting students to apply before its March 22 deadline.

The Brandeis-India Initiative hosted a question and answer session with past and prospective fellows this Wednesday. Led by Keely Swan, a graduate student of anthropology and women and gender studies and Professor Harleen Singh (SAS), students were encouraged to ask a variety of questions in order to learn about the Brandeis-India fellowship application process.

“The fellowship goal is to help build and strengthen the ongoing relationship between Brandeis and alumni, parents and organizations based in India,” Sawn said. “President Lawrence and past Brandeis presidents have been going to India to develop partnerships between universities in India and Brandeis for years.”

Lawrence has visited India twice in the last year. This winter, he spoke at Indian universities, teamed up with parents of Brandeis students and alumni to speak about human rights, and worked to strengthen existing relationships with Indian institutions in the sciences.

Students in attendance ranged from first-year undergraduates to graduate students preparing to graduate in the spring. Some were interested in learning more about India because of Bollywood classes they had taken at Brandeis, while others were interested in improving the water quality and health care system in India. Others wanted to cure blindness and some wanted to study India’s history of sexual assault.

At the meeting, William Lodge ’13 spoke about his semester abroad in New Delhi, India. Lodge studied Indian classical violin at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Upon his return to Brandeis, he taught Brandeis music students about classic Hindu music.

“I was in Delhi for four and a half months studying abroad. I wanted to incorporate music into my studies, so I applied for the Brandeis-India Fellowship and that funding helped me get a teacher who taught me the fundamental core of Indian violin,” Lodge said. “I went to a lot of concerts, and when I returned, I taught classes at Brandeis about what I learned. I wanted to open up Western listeners’ ears to learning about different music styles.”

In addition to Swan and Singh and a group of eager students also present were Jacqueline Blesso of the Hiatt Career Center and Allyson Goose of the study abroad department. Blesso spoke about the World of Work (WOW) funding opportunities for students interested in interning or researching in India, while Goose spoke about the study abroad experience in India and funding opportunities associated with the study abroad office.

“WOW allows undergraduate students to apply for funding for an unpaid internship. The WOW deadline is March 20 and we’ve had five WOWs that have gone to India over the past five years. There’s a social justice, universal, theater, politics, science and social work WOW. We just ask that the internship be eight weeks long, unpaid and be over the summer,” Blesso said.

Like WOW, the Office of Study Abroad works with students to fund their experiences abroad. As Goose explained, it is possible to receive the Brandeis-India Fellowship in addition to separate study abroad funding.

“Merit and need-based aid usually follows students from Brandeis if they are fall or spring study abroad students. This is one way you can get funding. With a WOW you will need to do independent research to find housing and an internship, but with study abroad there is a support staff there to help you with academic and personal questions. Socially, it’s a different feel as well,” Goose said.

Finally, Singh spoke to students, assuring them of the broad support the Brandeis-India Initiative provides to its fellows.

“We are a one-stop shop, we do everything. We are a resource. Come to us if you want to go to India. We can connect you with alumni, past fellows and parents of Brandeis students in India. We can also help you find housing, but our job at the Brandeis-India initiative is to put you in touch with people, rather than to organize you. We will help you, but unlike the Office of Study Abroad we would not be responsible for your housing,” Singh said.

Singh concluded the discussion by encouraging students to spread the word about traveling to India.

“It is a big advantage for American students to go to India because, especially in cities, everything is in English. But Europe still has a big hold on study abroad participation. I want to change that. India is where people should be going in my opinion,” Singh said.