Last spring, Francesca Moree ’14 was selected for an IDEX Fellowship working with VOICE 4 Girls in Hyderabad, India. VOICE’s mission is to enable marginalized adolescent girls in India to take charge of their futures by imparting critical knowledge, spoken English, and life skills through activity-based camps and mentorship programs. IDEX Fellows are required to make a financial commitment to the opportunity, and Francesca used the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform to raise a portion of those funds. The Fellowship has been an interesting experience thus far, full of ups-and-downs and lots of learning. Francesca wrote with the following updates this week and gave us permission to share with ENGAGE readers. To learn more about IDEX or Francesca’s fellowship, contact the Patricelli Center or email Francesca directly.
Dear Friends and Family,
It’s been too long since my last update!
Three months into my stay here in Hyderabad, I can finally say that I’m beginning to settle into life here. The pollution is not quite as debilitating, crossing the street only gives me a minor heart attack now, and I can modestly express myself in Hindi.
My work at VOICE has been going very well: I’ve designed a full needs analysis, and I will hopefully pilot the surveys when I visit the northern state of Uttarakhand in late October (it borders on Nepal, in the foothills of the Himalayas). I have now joined VOICE’s curriculum team to develop a 7-10 day co-curricular camp, called United VOICE, that focuses on careers and future planning. I’m really excited for this work because “women’s empowerment” as an idea and a movement has always struck me as incomplete: we have to engage men and boys in gender equity. And so I’m looking forward to designing a curriculum that encourages girls and boys to work together and communicate with one another! Also, if anyone out there has any activity ideas from their camp days, those would be greatly appreciated. Although United VOICE has important social goals, it’s still a camp, and it should be fun!
Outside of VOICE work, as a side project, I am planning a photography/visual arts workshop for young adults to explore their everyday experiences of gender and inequality in Hyderabad. Through conversations with Indian friends and my own personal experiences, I have been overwhelmingly disturbed by the miscommunication between people of different genders and the lack of safe spaces for young people to communicate effectively and equitably. I’m hoping to provide a platform for young adults to explore these issues.
Finally, although I’m enjoying my work here in Hyd, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the city for me. I visited Kerala over a long weekend with some friends, and it really hit home for me that I need fresh, clean air and accessible nature, of which Hyderabad has neither.
Last weekend, I went on a three-day walk, a Shodha Yatra, through the rural countryside. Although I am now fighting off a crippling bout of gastroenteritis as a result of my trip, it was entirely worth it to be able to enjoy and rejuvenate in the beautiful, lush Telangana countryside.
Peace, love, and monsoon,
2014 IDEX Fellow | VOICE 4 Girls
Wesleyan University ’14 | Government and Civic Engagement