An Illustrated Journey of New Horizons

Illustrating is a way I experience, share, and capture moments of my life. I carry the tools of my trade (ink brushpen, watercolor brushpen, small watercolor set, an inkpen, and a small notebook) in my left-pocket on most days. These are scenes drawn in the moment, with the scents of food, honking of horns, crowds of curious onlookers, and expressions of people I admire imbued into each drawing. I hope you enjoy looking through these drawings, a lens into my world, as I experience serving in India.

A first day with the AIF group.
A first day with the AIF group.

Sitting with a new group of ambitious individuals, from the United States and India, I envisioned the evolution of friendships that will develop throughout the nine-months of service. Among this group of faces, collaborations will evolve to achieve things greater than one’s own abilities and friendships will take root to last lifetimes. The American India Foundation’s Clinton Fellowship is a experiential learning experience where 31 participants volunteer in various sectors of international development throughout India. We arrived together in Delhi on September 3 to begin a two-week orientation where we were briefed on the work we will be doing, the current context of development in India, and built relationships between each other.

Another view of the group.
Another view of the group.

Throughout orientation in Delhi, the characteristics of each group member were revealed through lunch-time bantering and workshop contributions. An apparent element was each person bringing an impressive toolkit of skills and past experiences to the fellowship. From the professional cohorts I’ve been involved in (Americorps, Peace Corps, graduate program) this group has many talented individuals and is collectively outstanding.

The Red Fort in Delhi.
The Red Fort in Delhi.

Along with training sessions, we were given opportunities to explore the city of New Delhi and act as tourists. I visited the Red Fort in Delhi with a friend during one afternoon. As I drew this picture, a crowd of onlookers gathered around to peek over my and also to snap a picture. Being in a culture where depicting life through art makes me happy and hopeful that I can collaborate with people to tell stories using an illustrated form.

Words about development in India.

Words about development in India.

Throughout orientation, we were an audience to many development experts who delivered insight into the type of work that we will be doing. Mr. Tejaram provided a metaphor for working in communities and the need to have a broad understanding of development, a community context understanding, and the flexibility to bring about productive change.

The FRO office in Delhi. We registered with the officials in order to stay in India for our nine-months of service. With a handful of paperwork, our visas, and passports, we ventured into the labyrinth of the government registration office. We submitted paperwork for review and waited for hours with baited breath hoping that our documents were pushed through. In the end, we all received our certificates and got ready to move to our host sites across India.

Fellows sleeping on the plane to Tamil Nadu
Fellows sleeping on the plane to Tamil Nadu

When our training came to an end, the fellows traveled to regional destinations to either start work or a one-week language course. Along with two other fellows, I flew to Tamil Nadu for a week-long language course before we moved to our individual sites.  I will be commenting on my first impressions of my site, the Kattaikkuttu Sangam in my next blog post.

14-5-26-calAbout Me:

My name is Cal Brackin and I am 30 years old from Jackson, Wyoming. I am interested in international  development topics, working with youth, and illustration. I am joined by a cohort of thirty talented individuals in the American India Fellowship class of 2016-2017. We are working throughout India in various development sectors (Education, Livelihoods, Health, Environment, Law) with the goals of supporting organizations achieve goals while learning about development in India. I’ll be in India for ten months (September 3, 2016- July 1, 2017).

I currently live in a subtropical climate in southern India in the province of Tamil Nadu. I live in a rural area several miles from a larger city renowned for silk and ancient temples. I work at a school that provides formal education while professionally training students to perform in a folk theater form, Kattaikkuttu.

Cal is eager to confront challenges and collaborate with the AIF team and individuals at his project site to overcome them. He believes that through this fellowship, he would be able to build the skills and leadership abilities that he can draw upon in a life of national and international civic engagements. Prior to AIF, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer (Mongolia 2013-15) in the Community and Youth Development sector, which provided him experience living in a rural community in an international context. He also has a BA and MA degrees, both in International Development. Cal is excited for the opportunity towards learning about another culture and experience the variety of foods, dances, arts, and lifestyles.

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4 thoughts on “An Illustrated Journey of New Horizons

  1. Dear Cal- Thanks for bringing together your drawings and words to show us all your journey so far! Really enjoyable to live through Orientation with your illustrations. Can’t wait for the next post, and to see all of the drawings that will come out of your experiences at the Kattaikuttu Sangam!

  2. Hi Cal – it’s Kelly from Colter. This is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing your world with us!
    You truly are amazing and you are missed!

  3. Hi Cal,
    Wonderful drawings and stories of your travels. Makes me homesick for travel on the international road.
    Merry Christmas!

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