Thursday, October 29, 2015

Expanding my Boundaries by Visiting India

In two weeks I will be boarding a plane (or two) to visit a country that is 11.5 hours ahead of my timezone. Typical reactions I receive when I tell people I’m going to India—a place far from Boulder, Colorado—range from “that is not for me” to “I wish I could go”. 
I also get many comments like, “That is so cool!: “ What will you learn?” or my favorite, “I’ve been there and you will love it. Let me tell you about…”

I’ve asked myself why I’m willing to leave the comforts of home to explore something so different, and the answer is simple: I have a strong desire to push my own boundaries to explore, learn, and hopefully return with a new way of perceiving and interacting with my world. A trip like this could change the way I view and solve problems, including those I face in my role at Boulder Valley School District.

IndiaCitiesMap.jpgThis personally funded trip is led by CoSN (Consortium of School Networking), an organization I belong to that supports K-12 technology professionals through advocacy, tools, and support. CoSN visits a country each year to learn about how the educational system functions and how technology is used.
We will visit three diverse cities—Delhi, Bangalore, and Chennai—each with different cultures, food, and even religious followings. We will spend time at schools with students and administrators, and we will visit historical and cultural sites, including the Taj Mahal. This trip promises to be anything but routine.
After months of preparation and many vaccinations, I am ready to leave on November 12. I hope you will follow me on my 12-day journey through these social media tools:
  1. CoSN in India Blog
Please chime in below with your thoughts. What country you have visited that has changed the way you view the world?


  1. Last year myself and two others traveled to India to do a special education evaluation with Kim Bane (former director of Special Education). I don't know where you will be traveling to in India but I have since then had the opportunity to work with Ajit Narayanan, a software developer who has created a communication app for students with special needs (he is located a mile from where Kim works). He has impressed me with his creativity and unique problem solving strategies which I think stem from having to implement his ideas in a very diverse setting. I think the intense variety (and beauty) that India has to offer does push one's boundaries (it pushed mine) and provides a rich opportunity for learning. I wish you the best. - Jennifer Leonesio

    1. Jennifer, I just reached out to Kim and hope to see here while in Chennai. Thanks for the heads up that she is over there.


  2. bring me back one of those sweet Royal Enfield motorcycles! thanks, Bill Cox at Platt middle school.

  3. Amazing place to explore - many of the computer programmers that my husband at CU employs are from there...they work hard to come explore our country.
    Alice DT , LMS

  4. Have a great trip, I cannot wait to hear what you have learned. So exciting!
    Genna Jaramillo

  5. Any place where the culture is very different from our own offers a new perspective. Some of my favorites have been Southeast Asia and South America.

  6. Hi Andrew, I'm a friend of M.L.'s from the Golden Planning Commission, and she suggested I send you some of my observations from a trip I made to India in the spring of 2014. I imagine you will be with a group most of the time, but if you are inclined, and it's possible, you may enjoy heading off on your own, or with one other person. Here are some of my observations on travel there.

    India never sleeps, so enjoy. The streets and train stations at night are full of activity, color, people, and other interesting things. If possible, take night, early morning, and late evening trains, and plan your days to see stuff.

    The handicrafts are amazing. So much talent goes into making things by hand. The Indian merchants are also amazing, and it's so hard to know when they are telling the truth. My favorite things to buy were textiles. I love the pashmina shawls I bought. Just be careful to find real pashmina, which is from the under hairs of a Himalayan goat.

    The Poor
    Beggars - Give the kids food and they'll be happy, give it to an old guy and he might resignedly accept it's not productive begging from you. At the Sufi shrine on Thursday night (start of the holy day, with prayers and qwaali signing) they had food for the poor, and the smart Indians brought money to carefully hand out. You could go to the bank and get a few stacks of Rs 10 notes to hand out. But even just acknowledging the poor can be a kindness.

    Qwaali - If you get a chance to go to the Qwaali signing in Delhi on Thursday at sunset, it's wonderful! Here's an article:

    Rural India
    If you get a chance to go to a game park or something, do it. Another great sight is all the rural women dressed and traveling in groups, quite be a parade of color.

    Travel Options
    India Rail is a great way to travel. And if you have a chance, try the different classes - First is like Amtrak, with great food served. Second is like old Amtrak trains and food is available via hawkers. You'll see beggars and not many westerners. Third class, you may not see beggars; you will see luggage racks used as an opportune place for sleep. And people will stare, probably wondering why you're riding with them. Take it all in and enjoy. No reservations required for third class, so great for last minute train hopping. And you'll meet Indians you would not otherwise meet. Take a language book, because in 3rd class they won't speak English. Oh, and something to sit on in case you don't get a seat and want to sit on the floor. An old sari would be perfect.

    City Buses - In Delhi, you're up high with a huge window. You might have to be careful about what bus to ride, and it's slow, but it's a good way to see the city.

    Power - They have plugs many places, even on the trains and metro, and my US plug worked in most places.

    Internet: India Rail ( has a great website where you can find what train you're looking for and availability (Train Berth Availability). Some cities have multiple train stations, so that can make it tricky, just ask people the best station for where you are going to and coming from. You can create a login to buy tickets though I had to use a local debit card. Probably best to create a login and share it with someone who can buy you tickets. If you have a local phone, you'll get the tickets SMS'd right to the phone. And Google! Directions told me what metro to take and flights told me prices for my flight to Kashmir.

    Kindle - I was able to download a Hindi dictionary when I was on a villager's roof eating dinner and trying to explain the word 'curious'!

    Have a great time!

    1. Matt, This is very helpful. I appreciate the detail and insights you've been able to provide. I'm heading to the airport in a couple hours and have printed a copy to reference. Here we go!

  7. Cross posting from the official group blog site:



  10. My summary Blog from the trip:

  11. Here is a link to a video a few of us put together to summarize the trip:

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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