I am writing to you aboard a ship, somewhere between Namibia and Morocco! As many of you know, this Semester I have been studying on the Semester at Sea Program, where I am travelling to 15 cities, 12 countires over 112 Days.
I want to start by apologising for this report being so delayed. We only have intermittent internet connection on the ship at a few ports. Although, before boarding the ship, I was worried about how I would stay for so long without internet, without email and calling my mother, I found that there are many advantages of not having the internet. There are no distractions from my classes, all the papers I have to write, and I can really spend time with the 600 students aboard the ship and make many great friends.
I am taking classes on Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Theater. My classes are really very interested, mostly because we learn these subjects in the context of the countries the ship is docking at, and we go and do field trips to cultural and historical sites in these countries. I feel like I understand what I am studying really well because I am seeing these live examples in front of me, and I am learning in a way that I will never forget, because I have been to these places, met these people and have spoken with them.
As I got the Presidential Scholarship to attend the Semester At Sea Program, I had to conduct 8 workshops for the students on the ship about Sex Work and Gender Inequality in India. I was very nervous about these workshops. The students who would come to my workshops would all be my age or older, what could I possibly teach them or share with them to keep them interested? But I have conducted half of the workshops already and they are going great! I show videos of plays we have performed at Kranti, and at every workshop we discuss a different nuance of stories from the Red Light Areas in India, like child sexual abuse, children of sex workers not getting admitted in school, or sex workers not getting health services because of the taboos associated with them. Before I started the workshops I used to think oly 2 or 3 students will show up, but actually so many students come that some of them have to sit on the aisles!
PS - I shaved my head! It seems to be quite a fad at Kranti, as 4 Revolutionaries have already shaved their head. How do I look?
After taking drumming lessons for four months, practicing hard at one-on-one classes with my teacher, Andrew, and with my band led by my other teacher, Eric, I finally had my first public performance on 26 January, 2015! I played the rock drums to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and Bonnie Raitt's "Love Letter". I also played the Bongo to "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow.
Before my concernt I was so nervous my hands were shaking. I had never performed before an audience before. I felt like I would forget everything I had learnt and just go blank on stage. But, when I finally went on stage, and the guitarist started the song, my hands automatically started playing and I actually had so much fun playing! The links to my videos are below, and you can see that I was actually having fun and just jamming!
The audience clapped so loud and whistled and cheered after my performance. I couldn't believe I had actually gone through all the songs and not made any mistakes. Not only that- I had actually improvised on the spot with the cymbals and done something new I hadn't done before! I don't know what happened- it just came to me naturally and I just played it.
Now, I am looking forward to my next concert at the end of March. However, I have had much fewer classes this time, as many classes got cancelled because of bad weather and snow storms, so I am nervous all over again.
That brings me to the snow- if you see my pictures you will think I loved the snow. It does look beautiful, but I have never been such cold weather before and I really found it difficult on the days the temperature went down to -14 degrees Centigrade. Even when I went trekking with Kranti in the Himalayas I had not felt so cold.
But now, the worst is over. This week I felt like finally Spring is coming. So, to celebrate, I went to Meridian Hill Park for a picnic with my friends and to watch the Drum Circle. Drum Circle was amazing! There were almost 15 people playing different kinds of percussion instruments and the beat was so amazing I wanted to start dancing! I hope one day I have confidence enough to join the group and play with the Drum Circle. I think I will make this my aim before I leave Washington, D.C.
In the next report, look forward to videos from my second concert!
Dear Kranti Friends,Can you believe 1/12th of 2015 is already done? I can’t! Life is so, so busy, sometimes I feel very old. :) But I am 17. My name is Asmita Katti, but everyone call me Ashi. I am so happy for 2015 because this year many many big things will happen, for me and for Kranti. This year I am going to finish 12th! That is biggest thing...but November and December were so exciting at Kranti, we are all excited for what 2015 will bring.During winter break many people travel to hot places. But Mumbai is already hot...so we Krantikaris travel to cold places! This winter we went to Himachal Pradesh, which is the second most north state in India and it is the foothills of the Himalayas. For one week, we stayed at an old monastery and our theatre teacher came from Delhi to teach us theatre....from 7am everyday to 7pm! At 7pm it was soooo dark and cold that we all stayed under our blankets and told ghost stories. Except for one day – we started at 5am because a secret donor paid for allllll of us to go paragliding! (Photo and video below.)After that we went to a science camp that is made for kids who do not have very good science in school. We all studied in red-light area school and we always thought we hate science. But in four days of science camp we did so many amazing things, making catapults, opening electronics, operating machines...we all learn that we don’t hate science, we hate how our school teaches science. We are all looking for more interesting ways to learn science in Mumbai!And lastly, one of the Krantikaris left us for a few months – Kavita left on 6 Jan to sail Semester at Sea, a university program on a ship that sails 12 countries in five months. The ship will come to India in March so we hope to see her. Like all of us Krantikaris, it was very hard for Kavita to get her passport, visas, etc. But then one journalist wrote about her and she was on the front page of a national newspaper! Then lotttsss of journalists started calling and many people offered their help, like Bollywood actresses and Mumbai’s politicians! Anyway, we are sad for her to go but very happy for her journey.I think “thank you” can never say enough for all the amazing people we have in our lifes. We are soooo lucky to have so many supporters like you around the world, most we never met but you support us and our dreams always. I never, never thought I will go paragliding, but now I am so confident that I can do anything...I am even ready to skydive someday! :) I hope all of you are having a wonderful, wonderful 2015. I hope all year is filled with family, friends and happiness for you!Love,Ashi