Teaching Traveling: As I just returned from travel in India with a teacher group, it’s only fitting that today’s interview be about incredible India!
Bhaskar Krishnamurthy is a well-known photojournalist who runs CLIC Abroad, a program where students travel to India for intercultural photo workshops. Bhaskar, tell us about your background.
Bhaskar: I am a native of India now living in Kansas City as an engineer and photojournalist. I engage with children in helping build a broader cultural exchange, conservation and preservation of native cultures and help build a network of children to help explore the world culture and build a healthy and respectable environment for the younger generation.
TT: Amazing. Tell us more about your travels.
B: I have been involved with travel for nearly 10 years and some of the experiences are heartwarming and so engaging. My travels to Brazil, Peru, Fiji, Thailand, Spain etc. and many trips back home to India are always deeply etched in my memories. I am constantly traveling for work and each of my visit anywhere is an education and inspiration. It teaches me something new, something special and something that I always want to share. Most of my trips will be anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks, sometimes more. In the last eight months I have been to New Zealand, Mexico, India, Abu Dhabi, Canada and Ireland. My travels came about due to the assignments and projects that I am involved with. I constantly write on many adventures to many publications. When I travel, I raise money to go through many different sources including project funding, fundraising, and personal donations from many friends.
TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
B: Recently I was conducting a workshop in Himalayan foothills. We had recruited about 50 children for the workshop from local schools to document their life and surroundings. I visit most students home recruited in every workshop. I was surprised at one student whose commitment, interest and enthusiasm was exemplary. He lives at a height of 10000 ft above, walks to the school every day, rain / snow / shine. He comes from a family of 9 children and they belong to the community of Gujjars, the buffalo herders. He said, anybody can graze buffalos and till the field, but I want to study and be well educated. When we visited their family, grasping for breath, they offered fresh milk and corn bread. The simplicity, the hospitality, the warmth and the aspirations of the student to excel in studies was quite extraordinary. It truly was an inspiration for many of my students from the cities.
TT: Powerful. How have your travels impacted you in your career?
B: My travels have encouraged me to do things that I would have never been able to think or implement. It has empowered me with knowledge, opportunities, resources and continues to enrich me in many different ways. It has influenced me to constantly adapt and keep pushing the accelerator to help so many young people who have a dream and aspiration but no means or guidance. I see the world through a kaleidoscope of those who can make a positive change, given the right opportunity and the environment. I strive to guide them and create a space of building their confidence to think, anything is possible.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?
Traveling the world has been an education of extraordinary magnitude. I come from a small village in India and have had an opportunity to travel the world and embrace world culture is something unique and significant. It has opened my eyes to things that I had never seen, never heard nor would have ever been taught. It has also made me appreciate my own roots more than ever before. It has made me not to take anything for granted and that hard work, patience and respect for others is of utmost importance no matter where you are. It has taught me humility, encouraged me to dream big and perseverance to excel.
TT: What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel or travelers dreaming of teaching?
B: Embrace yourself to the open world. I have often come across people comparing negatively cultures to cultures, people to people, country to country. Each of them has a unique identity of its own and that we should immerse ourselves to engage and appreciate. We not only represent our country to the world but also bring the world to our shores and our students. Never forget that students always look to you for inspiration and guidance. And never think language is a barrier to communicate in places that don’t speak your own. A warm smile is all it takes to be in the foreground.
If anyone is interested to be part of our CLIC Abroad (www.clicabroad.org) project with a group of children from the school / community and visit some of the remote regions in India, we will be happy to facilitate. It is a great opportunity to expand your understanding of many fascinating things that you never get to read or see, other than visiting and experiencing it in person. The project is created primarily for the teachers and students to have a direct cultural exchange and impact your global understanding and share the same on a wider canvas. So far, we have already included more than 300 children in remote regions who have benefited directly.
We work with such communities whose traditional way of life is changing, whose sustainability has been threatened and we engage with to bring forward with confidence and positive hopes. The visual nature of these workshops serves as a bridge across differences of language and culture. It enables American and Indian children to engage in cross-cultural conversation, share their lives, broaden their understanding of the world, and consider both new and old ways of improving their circumstances. Visual impact and the introduction to technology breaks the barrier of inhibition and creates a level of social acceptance for children from both sides of the world. In addition, the exercise creates an invaluable documentary of the rapidly changing culture of rural India, and serves to remind us all of what may be lost during such speedy transformations. Will be happy to answer any questions relating to the visit.
TT: Thanks so much, Bhaskar! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?