University of North Carolina – An Immersion Programme at Visthar

An enthusiastic group of social work students and faculty from the University of North Carolina recently embarked on a transformative journey to Visthar. They were part of a two-week educational program at St. Joseph’s University in Bangalore, India. The UNC team’s time at Visthar resonated deeply with the broader theme of their Bangalore program: “Reflecting on Issues, Envisioning Possibilities.”

Through insightful sessions on “India Today: Issues and Challenges” and “Gender and Diversity,” they gained valuable perspectives on the unique social landscape of India and the challenges faced by marginalized communities. These were facilitated by David Selvaraj and Mercy Kappen, senior faculty at Visthar. Stepping beyond theory, the UNC team embarked on nature walks around the campus and the neighborhood, connecting with the local environment and engaging with the people who call it home. These walks weren’t just scenic; they served as opportunities to observe and gain a deeper understanding of the context in which Visthar operates.

Art and creativity took center stage next, with the students and faculty participating in pottery and art workshops facilitated by the talented artists, Sonu Pujar and Mahesh Pattar  at Visthar Academy and Jeena Gigi and Steven Paul at the  Srujana Recycled. These hands-on sessions not only fostered cultural exchange but also served as a powerful tool for self-expression and connection. Witnessing the transformation of raw materials into beautiful creations resonated with the group’s mission of social transformation.

The UNC social work students and faculty returned from their Visthar experience not just with valuable knowledge and a deeper understanding of India’s social landscape, but also with a renewed commitment to social justice and a strengthened sense of global community. The sessions, workshops, and interactions served as a powerful catalyst for learning, and reflection.  The UNC team carries the lessons learned and the inspiration gathered back to their communities, determined to continue making a positive impact on the world.

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