IHP’s new website

October 30, 2009

IHP website

Pointing out the new website for Boston Universities International Honors Program (IHP) is really just an excuse to rhapsodize about what a great experience it was for me and try to get other people to connect with it.  That said, isn’t the new website spiffy looking, though?

I’ve been thinking a lot about IHP lately (it figured largely in my Fulbright essay).  Its hard to look back and find the moments that set you on your course and changed your life but I see my time on IHP as uniquely formative.  I think all travel is broadening.  A city-hotel weekend in Canada still opens an American up to a few different perspectives on how life is lived.  For me, though, IHP took me out of myself in a way I never could have matched on my own.

To read a longer encomium and see pictures … read on.

IHP is an amazing and unusual study abroad program.  Their flagship program, Global Ecology, takes 30 students and 3 professors literally around the world, armed only with camera’s note books and the necessities they can cram into 40 lb of luggage (most people start with extra weight and shed it through the year, arriving home with a few changes of clothing and a bunch of trinkets, blankets and rugs picked up along the way.  (In my day almost none of the students brought a laptop, but I don’t know if that’s still true.)  Living with families in England, India, the Phillippines, New Zealand and Mexico, I saw how anomalous my own suburban up-bringing had been.  I grew up in Libertyville, IL and my childhood home was a 70’s era split level in a cul du sac neighborhood where everyone drove everywhere and teenagers hung out at the mall.  My family was atypical, democrats, hippie parents, no car for me or my sister when we hit 16, vegetarians … but still I absorbed a lot of the middle American wealth oriented value system even while trying to reject it.  My first two years of college didn’t do much to shake me out of that point of view.  So IHP was a complete wake-up call.

In the hopes of tempting other people to follow this post down the rabbit hole and pursue this chance.  Note: you don’t have to be a junior.
withiel cow

It was the first time I had lived in a rural landscape rather than just driven through it.  I walked three miles from the farm cottage where I was living to our classroom in the village, over hedges and styles and past this cow, among many others.

 

rits's slum

I met people living lives of unimaginable deprivation and hardship.  They were full of dignity and gravitas but to this day I don’t know if I can say that they were happy or not.  This woman was living in a one room mud hut with no plumbing in Dharavi, the place where they filmed Slumdog Millionaire, working as a cleaner and sending money home to her family in Thamil.  She must have been younger than we were (20) although she didn’t say her age.  She’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen.

 

port shanties 2

This shanty-town was built up around the port we traveled through on our way from the port of Manilla to the island of Ilo-Ilo in the Philippines.  They must be the homes of the dock workers.  Most of the homes in the third world are built by their owners from found objects.

fern

I didn’t take this picture, my friend Darryl did.  But for me it looks like New Zealand.  Don’t get me wrong, I love America and my adoration for south western Wisconsin has been described as pathological but … New Zealand is the most beautiful place I have ever been … practically all of it.  Which is not to say they don’t have their problems.  They have a hole in the o-zone layer so bad there that children who don’t come to school with long sleeves and big hats aren’t allowed out at recess.  The really sad part is they think its their fault.

wc demo

This is a women’s weaving cooperative in a small town in Oaxaca.  I have a small rug from their coop on my bedroom floor right now.  They made the most beautiful pieces, all in colors they dyed themselves and told us that having their own business had really strengthened their self image and sense of power within their community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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