Katrina Harrison spent her final summer as an undergraduate student in Bangalore, India. In the ten weeks that she spent the country, she took classes, volunteered, and travelled throughout the Southern region of India. She explored several different prominent religions in India, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Christianity by visiting their places of worship and participating in the offerings and rituals of each tradition. She studied South Asian politics with a member of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s staff, and came away with an in depth understanding of the relationship between the United States and South Asia. Katrina also studied Population and Poverty with specific attention to India. In order to truly understand the welfare programs implemented by the Indian government, she sat in on several meetings of a village self-help group, made up of women in the community who were dedicated to advancing their village. Together these women had gotten electricity run into their village, normalized sending daughters to secondary school, and acted as low-interest loan originators for village residents. While in India, Katrina also had the opportunity to volunteer at a daycare located in a Bangalore slum. There, she played with children who were too young to attend school while their mothers worked. She also assisted at meal times. When she was not studying or volunteering, Katrina travelled to other parts of South India visiting Coorg and Mysore in Karnataka, Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, and Cochin, Alleppey, and Munnar in Kerala.
CEE Title: It Never Happens Here: Student Stories of Sexual Violence
"It Never Happens Here" combined the creative arts and open dialogue in order to address the issue of sexual violence in the Temple community. While many dialogues and discussions on sexual violence use hypothetical examples, we wanted the realm of "what if..." and instead discuss what had already happened. To this end, we created skits out of scenarios that we had witnessed or personally experienced both in the United States and internationally. In order to highlight our international experience and address the issue of "thinking globally, acting locally" we presented our skits, with little to no background and asked our audience to guess where the incident occurred. This exercise illustrated that the same scenario could have happened in Philadelphia, Bangalore, London, Johannesburg, or anywhere else in the world. We gave the audience the opportunity to discuss what made the incident an act of sexual violence, provide a variety of appropriate responses, and share their own personal experiences as they related to the presented skit. We created a safe space in which to ask questions and learn about a problem that heavily plagues college campuses as well as the general public. After the skits were completed, we provided everyone with resources for anyone who was experiencing, had experienced, or knew someone who was a victim of sexual violence. Finally, we asked the audience to share their experiences, thoughts, or even encouraging words on a poster to be displayed in Temple's Women's Studies Department. "It Never Happens Here" exceeded all of the goals we set for the event. It started a conversation, presented safe and effective ways in which to respond to sexual violence, and provided a comprehensive definition of sexual violence in order to combat the issue.