2 teachers win India Fellowship

Elizabeth Madden

Two members of the faculty have been awarded the India Exploration and Immersion Faculty Fellowship sponsored by the Cultural Heritage and Arts of India Club and the Gunter-Gross Asia Initiative.

Visual arts department head Cheri Gaulke and middle school visual arts teacher Claire O’Connor ’06 will travel to Mumbai and Delhi, where they will explore temples, slums and monuments. Gaulke hopes to research potential subjects for student documentaries, while O’Connor will focus on transforming Indian mythology into art.

The fellowship’s goal is to allow faculty members to create an immersive experience that will increase their understanding of Indian culture, history and/or society, according to an email from Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts March 17 that announced the trip.

Proposals had to include how the experience will improve teaching skills and spark collaboration between departments, Huybrechts said.

To apply for the fellowship, two faculty members had to jointly design a program to “result in expanded global interest, awareness and understanding through exploration in India,” according to the email. A selection committee overseen by Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research department chair Larry Klein reviewed the proposals received.

Both Gaulke and O’Connor hope to “expose Harvard-Westlake students to the resourcefulness and industry of people as they create a living for themselves under incredibly challenging conditions,” their proposal reads.

They plan to partner with Reality Tours & Travel Tour Company, Gaulke said.

The first five days are to be spent sightseeing in Mumbai and traveling to Udaipur to visit City Palace and to spend time with a local family.

Gaulke hopes to explore the spiritual culture of India as well as explore potential documentary subjects for students, provided that a trip for students to explore media in India could be formed. This would be similar to the previous trips she has led to Rwanda, Laos and Ethopia, she said.

“I want to empower students, so that they know how the stories they tell can change the world,” Gaulke said. “I’ve found that on the previous trips I have led, students returned with an appreciation of their own privilege, and how to use it to better the lives of others.”

The two-week trip will take place over winter break.