PITTSBURGH-A group of 16 CCAC Honors students is preparing to
embark on an international study tour in India from January 2-13.
During the tour, the students, accompanied by three Honors faculty
members, will perform community service, attend lectures at
universities, meet with government officials, visit cultural and
historical sites such as Mahatma Gandhi's residence and the Taj
Mahal, and much more. This will be the second time the CCAC Honors
program has embarked on a study tour abroad-a trip to India in
January 2016 was a transformative experience for the students, one
of whom was able to return to India and meet the Dalai Lama as a
The trip is designed to promote academic exposure, cultural
exploration and community service while advancing the students'
knowledge and understanding of India for the Honors course
"Comparative Cultures & Politics of India & the United
States." Each student is required to do a comparative analysis of
India and the U.S., examining how the two democracies differ in
terms of political and cultural diversity. The CCAC students will
also interact with professors and students at Jawaharlal Nehru
University in relation to their subjects. In addition, the students
will complete two one-credit Honors courses: Honoring the Community
Through Service, which explores servant leadership through theory
and practice; and Honors International Study of Art, Architecture
& Material Culture, an on-site survey of Indian art and
"Through this extraordinary, life-changing experience, our
students come into contact with intellectuals, politicians,
bureaucrats, activists, community leaders and even the
underprivileged in India. While there, students are exposed to
real-life situations and are given an opportunity to make a
difference," said CCAC Professor Srujana Kanjula, who is
teaching the comparative cultures course and co-leading the
The Honors students, who represent all four campuses, have
raised a total of $2,000 ($1,000 each) for Tibetan Children's
Village (TCV) and Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute (SSMI)-two
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) they will be visiting. Tibetan
Children's Village, founded by the Dalai Lama, is an integrated
educational community for destitute Tibetan children in exile.
Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute serves disadvantaged women and
children in Delhi with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty by
empowering people through education, vocational training, and
better health and nutrition.
In addition to fundraising for the NGOs, the students have
completed two service projects: creation of an international
fundraising brochure for SSMI that will capture the attention of
English-speaking audiences; and creation of a community eye report
designed to support SSMI's eye care program, as well as attract
potential volunteers and secure supplies and outside funding
"The students already feel connected to the NGOs they'll be
visiting because of the projects they've completed," said
Julia Fennell, CCAC Honors program director and English professor.
"It will be a wonderful experience for them to meet the people
they have been assisting and to see the impact of their good
efforts. They're getting very excited."
One of the sight-seeing excursions will be an overnight train
trip to Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, where they
will stay in a mountain village that is home to the Dalai Lama and
many Tibetan refugees. There, the students will learn about Tibetan
culture and meet with representatives from the Tibetan Women's
Association and visit the Tibetan Children's Village.
The students have held several fundraisers, including a talent
show, a used book sale and a Festival of India celebration, to help
pay for their trip, which costs $2,500 for each student. Donations are
still being accepted for the NGOs in India and can be made through
the CCAC Educational Foundation. When completing the donation,
individuals should mark the name of the NGO they wish to give to in
the "Memoriam" box on the pledge page.
Donations can also be mailed to the CCAC Educational Foundation
with a notation in the "memo" line for the NGO it is to be directed
to (Honors India Trip: SSMI or Honors India Trip: TCV). Checks can
be sent to: Attn: Jodi Beemer, CCAC Educational Foundation, 808
Ridge Avenue, 102 Byers Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
For more information about CCAC's Honors program,