Namaskara Everyone! (namaskara means hello! in Kannada)

Posted on September 7th, 2009 by

Hello Friends and Family!

This is Benjamin Batz writing on behalf of the Social Justice, Peace, and Development group this semester in BANGALORE, INDIA!!  It has been quite an incredible week.  We arrived at Visthar, the NGO that is hosting us and providing our course work, lots of fun and kindness.  I’m telling you, you have never experienced a welcome until you’ve been welcomed by the people of Visthar!  We were accepted so graciously to this campus, they have taken us in like family.  We have spent the week doing lots of different things getting acclimated to life in India.  We all took some time recovering from Jet-lag, 3 am was a popular wake up time for most people this week, and until recently many of us couldn’t sleep past that time!  The food is incredibly tasty here, and we have all learned how to eat with our hands with relative ease.  It’s harder than it sounds!  especially the rice.  We get tea about 3 times a day, which is wonderful, and sometimes we even have class!

But seriously, we have spent some time this week introducing the coursework for the semester.  Our instructors David and Mercy along with Sham, Roshen and Lindsay, have lead some get-to-know-you activities, opened discussion about our pre-trip books, introduced us to the issues we will be discussing and immersing ourselves in over the next few months.  Visthar also hosted a ceremony to welcome us to India.  We wore jasmine around our necks and we heard some song and dance from the Bandhavi girls on campus.  And, to boot, one of the government leaders of Karnataka spoke at our ceremony!  It was quite the welcome.

Along with our introduction to the courses, we took a trip out into the city of Bangalore on Wednesday where we encounterd some social Justice issues first-hand.  First, we all experience real poverty in two of the slums in Bangalore.  Our next stop on our tour of the city was UB City, which is an incredibly swanky place to shop.  Only Bangalore’s richest can afford to shop  there.  It was an example of the extremes that can be found in India, and we had a lot of great discussion after this experience.

We also got the chance this weekend to experience the Middle class of Bangalore.  Be all went to Homestays throughout the city and spent two nights and two days with a different family.  Most of these families were muslim, and because it is Ramadan, a lot of us got to experience fasting along with the whole experience of living in a different home with a new lifestyle.  Our discussion this morning about this experience was nothing but positive experiences.  This was an awesome way to see the city.

Of course, there is no way to describe how incredible this experience has been over a blog post!  But, that’s a taste of what we have been up to, Bangalore-side.  Hope you are all well, thanks for tuning in!


Benjamin Batz, and the SJPD 2009 crew

p.s. shout out to all those who helped make this possible: Carolyn O’Grady, Jill Fischer, all the Visthar staff, and the rest



  1. Cathy Marincel-Robb says:

    Namaskara, Benjamin & the SJPD 2009 crew; What an amazing first week you all have had! It sounds more like a month. You have jumped in with both feet! It was exciting even to read about; thanks for filling us in.

  2. Barbara Keith says:

    Thanks for the great post, Ben. I always imagined your last name was spelled Botts….I look forward to hearing more about your experiences (do you take turns posting?) Cross cultural experiences are a wonderful way to learn about yourself as well as the new culture. Make the most of your opportunities there.