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Notes from Abroad: Laurel in India
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Laurel Linberg’16, a sociology and anthropology major, currently studying abroad at ACM India..
I am Laurel Lindberg, a junior at Lake Forest studying Sociology/Anthropology. This semester I am in Pune, India, taking classes through ACM and conducting my own research on the standards of beauty for women in Pune. Being abroad has it challenges but the amount of learning that is done outside the classroom is something you cannot get on campus.
Recently our group traveled to the Ellora and Ajunta caves located in Aurangabad. The Ellora caves were constructed between the 5th century and 10th century, with Buddhist, Jain and Hindu influence. The 34 caves were carved from the Charanandri hills. The Ajunta caves were built in two different periods; the first period began around the 2cnd century BCE and the second phase between 400-650 CE. These Buddhist cave monuments included paintings and sculptures, which are still visible today! The caves were stunning and the attention to detail in the carvings was amazing. Greenery, waterfalls, and wildlife surrounded the caves, which was a plus!
After touring both caves, a fellow ACM India student suggested that we try sonic meditation in one of the caves. We quietly made our way to an empty cave and all sat down in front of a large carving of Buddha, with our eyes closed one student sang a long tone and then another chimed in with the same tone. We all sang the same tone until everyone had gone and then everyone chose a new tone to sing that was similar to the original. In the end we had an array of tones coming together in harmony and resonating throughout the cave. We even attracted a small crowd of people that sat down and listened and then later applauded us! It was a memorable experience, and something that could only be done in a place like India.
My time in India has been made possible by the Smith scholarship that I was awarded with in the Spring, so I would like to thank my donor, Ruth Smith, for making this dream a reality!