Orientation

We, the Fellows, spent the first days of our 10 month journey in Delhi for Orientation.

What, exactly, were we oriented to? For some, it was an orientation to India. Others had been many times, and some have lived here their entire life. For some, it was an orientation to public-private partnerships in development or social investment in India. And then there was orientation to yoga, thanks to the ever flexible and knowledgable Vishwas, who held early morning yoga sessions for anyone interested. We were also oriented to our mentors for the next 10 months, who all flew to Delhi for a mentor workshop (special shout out to Lakshmi, whom I am convinced is the best mentor — thanks for coming all the way from Chennai for the day!). It was also orientation to rhyming songs about the FRRO, courtesy of Ilana, as we waited for hours, munching on “grilled cheese pakora” while we learned about the grind of navigating Indian bureaucracy. And for some of the South Indians (cough, cough, Swathi, cough), it was an orientation to North India.

For all of us, it was an orientation to each other. Don’t get me wrong: many of the talks we attended were insightful and engaging. But, without a doubt, the highlight of the orientation week was getting to know the other fellows. We quickly transformed from a group of strangers with a common interest in development in India into a close knit community who now cannot seem to go five minutes without some sort of communication with each other.

Here’s to a challenging and rewarding year ahead, my fellow Fellows. I look forward to learning and growing with and through you all as you continue to orient me towards new possibilities.

Fellows with their Mentors at Orientation
Fellows with their Mentors at Orientation

Engaging with diverse communities across three continents has given Ned an appreciation for the complexity of human experience while fostering a passion for social justice and health equity. As an undergraduate in New Haven, Ned pursued a combination of ethnographic research and outreach work that sought to understand the lived reality of homelessness as he accompanied men and women who fell between the cracks of the social welfare system. After graduating, Ned spent a year living in Tanzania working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare designing and implementing cervical cancer screening and treatment programs. During this period, Ned had the opportunity to live in the outskirts of a Tanzanian slum and ethnographically study the experience of social marginalization. Following his year in Tanzania, Ned started an MPhil in Medical Anthropology, where he is writing a dissertation that explores the interface between the social and biological frameworks for conceptualizing 'mental illness' in India. Leading up to this research, Ned spent three months in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh working with Sangath, an NGO, on a research project that is developing evidence to determine the most effective methods for offering mental health care services in resource poor settings. Moving forward, Ned's aspiration is to split his time between America and India as a physician-anthropologist professor living a purpose driven life that links scholarship and service.

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2 thoughts on “Orientation

  1. Hey Ned,
    Thanks so much for such a positive review regarding orientation. I’m glad you liked it. I hope the entire 10 months of your fellowship would be as positive as it is now. Great to hear such things.

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