Ahmedabad Visit Travel Notes – Day Two

Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

[Editor’s note: Stephanie Brown was a participant of this year’s tour, she has been journaling at her ShutterFly photo blog where she has posted many more images that she and her father Jerry took]

Gujarat Vidyapith UniversityAhmedabad Day 2

On our second day in Ahmedabad we visit Gujarat Vidyapeeth University.  A school founded by Gandhi in the 1920’s in keeping with his beliefs in experiential learning.  We were a little early for our visit so Arun started by showing us around the Gujarat Vidyapeeth Energy Park where they demonstrate the use of bicycle powered saws, lights, sprinklers, and fans and solar powered spinning machines, condensers and ovens.  It was not set up the day we visited but they also have a bicycle powered washing machine used by students in the dormitories.  They use all of these methods on campus and encourage their use in the community particularly in villages where grid electricity is limited.

Gujarat Vidyapeeth terrace gardenAnother way that the campus sustains itself (another Gandhian principle) is that they produce most of their own food either in terrace gardens on the Ahmedabad campus or on satellite campuses.  We had the opportunity to visit one of these terrace gardens where they were getting ready to plant a crop of coriander.

Another unique campus experience is the spinning and weaving school.  While the students we eventually met were in post graduate work in subjects like social work, economics, and computer science all are required to take a handicraft course each semester and at least 60 hours of spinning/weaving is required.  When we later attended prayers all of the students brought their box spinners which they opened up and used while Arun and the university president were speaking.

Gujarat Vidyapeeth Peace Research CenterBefore lunch we spent some time in the Peace Research Center.  In addition to offering degree programs for local students they also offer a 4 month program for international students and work with visiting professors for longer visits.  One of the Salisbury University students who joined the tour last year is about to finish this program.  He enjoyed a reunion with classmates, spending much of the day with us.

masala-chai-teaAfter lunch, which included the best masala chai tea of the trip, we had the opportunity to interact with the students.  All courses at the school are taught in Gujarati and based on their village and tribal backgrounds the students spoke minimal English so Tushar Gandhi translated for us. 

kochrab ashramWhile many of our questions were about their education experiences and goals voter graduation their questions for us were more about our understanding of Gandhi and cultural comparisons with the US.  Some interesting questions were posed about American politics, particularly the involvement of young people, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our consumption patterns.  Their questions and our answers to them have given me many things to think about regarding my own aversion to politics and consumption patterns.

FabIndia in AhmedabadAfter wrapping up our time at the University we headed to the Kocharab Ashram, the first Ashram Gandhi founded in India after returning from South Africa.  It was a large beautiful house but it was quite apparent why it did not meet the needs of the Ashram community.  By this time I was starting down a very short path to a very long day fighting Delhi Belly but managed to stick it out for a shopping trip to FabIndia where I bought a beautiful Tussar Saree, a more simple cotton one, and a tunic.