Day 10 started off blessedly sunny. Many people were late for breakfast, likely because they were so happy to be sleeping in a real bed again. Today we went to Dibrugarh University’s Centre for Social Work Studies, where the faculty presented us with an overview of the program and showed us a documentary on their work in rural tribal communities. Afterwards we had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the MSW students. Being able to discuss global social issues with our peers is something I’ve enjoyed this entire trip!
Next our group, new friends included, went to the university’s anthropology museum. The students were able to explain tribal artifacts better than we could have figured things out on our own and we learned quite a bit.
We had a quick lunch at the guest house then journeyed to a local outdoor market. Fresh fruits, tea, and jewelry were among our most sought-after items. As a few girls were buying tea a group of men congregated around us. There was maybe a dozen of them, just sitting/standing, taking pictures, and watching us. The attention we get for being American is not something I can get used to.
Back at Dibrugarh University, we attended a cultural celebration/ goodbye party for the graduating class. It was supposed to start at 6:30 pm so, like foreigners, we arrived at 6:30 pm. The event didn’t begin until 8! We forgot about “Indian Time”- the fact that Indians tend to be late for everything. Unfortunately half of our group, professors included, had decided to get dinner and come back. Only five of us were present when the hostess began to call us up to the stage and present us with the beautiful red and white scarves associated with Assam. It was a complete surprise and we were caught off guard when they began to ask us questions, and then the worst- ask us to sing. Lacking musical talent we panicked and refused, and thankfully agreed on a compromise of instead attempting an Indian dance. It was awkward, but absolutely hilarious when the rest of the group came back and had to do the same things.
There were beautiful live music and dance performances. We spent the rest of the night learning traditional Assamese folk dances and sweating like crazy with our new friends. It was the perfect way to end our time in Dibrugarh.
Reflections by Leah Abramoff:
Meeting like-minded individuals within the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Dibrugarh University was a momentous occasion along the trip. Just when we thought the journey had come to a fairly solid closure we began to experience so much more. Being able to talk to MSW students on social challenges and how they were using their own strengths to overcome the challenges continued our education on health practices within Northeastern India. The students informed us on how they use street plays and additional artistic endeavors to gain the awareness of social challenges like substance use and the promotion of education to people within their communities.
As we have come to be accustomed to during our brief journey within India, celebrating the graduating class students’ advancement beyond Dibrugarh University wouldn’t be a celebration without a showing of their individual artistic talents. Our group was lucky enough to experience their talents in singing, instruments, and dancing. We were able to learn their style of dance (or at least we tried) through their guidance and were once more shown their hospitality and general affability as we were encouraged to celebrate with them.