For my birthday, I asked my parents for an unusual gift: airplane tickets. You see, Darjeeling is a fantastic place to live. I absolutely adore it and I would suggest everyone come and visit. But there is no denying that it is one of the most difficult fellowship placement sites to travel to and from (I know, we have nothing on APV). Future fellows, keep this in mind when deciding preferences for placement locations. The airport and train station are both a three hour ride down the mountain and there are very few locations you can fly or take the train directly to. Since the beginning of the fellowship, I have been watching the other fellows travel to see one another and attend conferences with an increasing feeling of jealousy. I want to see other parts of India too!!! So I decided to visit one of the fellows farthest from me: Coco in Bhuj. When I booked the tickets, I didn’t realize what an adventure I would be in for. The website implied two stops: Bagdogra to Kolkata, Kolkata to Mumbai, then an overnight layover before moving on to Bhuj. Turns out, the Kolkata to Mumbai flight was actually Kolkata to Vishakhapatnam to Bangalore to Mumbai. All fellow hosting cities!!! This trip did make me realize one thing. I love night flying. It is so much more interesting to see a city from the sky at night, lit up and glittering underneath you. The most interesting time to fly over a city at night is in the winter around 6pm, when the sun has just gone down and most people are returning home from work. You can easily find the main arteries of the city pumping people from it heart, usually a business district or industrial zone, to its residential extremities. As lights in those business and industrial centers wink off, lights in houses and apartments flicker on. No matter where in the world you are from, you can imagine what people are doing, the routines they employ as their days wind down, the feelings they might have while coming back home from work. Some things are universal, and connect the human race across borders and cultures. You can also tell how densely populated a place is in addition to its size. For example, Vizag is smallish but there are many lights in certain areas that let you know those areas are chock full of apartment buildings or houses built right on top of each other. Bangalore, on the other hand, is large but the light is more dispersed, with only a couple of bright chunks. Mumbai is just a huge area of bright light, appropriate for one of the most densely populated cities on Earth. You can learn a lot about the world around you when you are flying overhead, unknown to the people below, a silent eye in the sky in the middle of the night.
Megan believes that health is an integral part of international development. To achieve maximum potential within a community, that community needs to be healthy. She has come to this conclusion because of her experiences abroad and in the US during her undergraduate and graduate degrees. While in college, she spent a summer volunteering at an orphanage in rural Rajasthan. During this adventure, she saw the many health issues facing women and children in India, particularly in rural areas with limited access to health care. This trip inspired her undergraduate thesis and motivated her to pursue graduate degrees in social work and public health. While in graduate school, she solidified her interest in sexual and reproductive health and maternal and child health. These areas were the focus of her research and projects throughout school. She participated in an internship in India at MAMTA: Health Institute for Mother and Child in the summer of 2012. During this internship, she had the opportunity to learn about Indian health systems and adolescent sexual health schemes. She fell in love with India during her volunteer and internship experiences and wants to live there on a permanent basis now that she has completed her graduate degree.