Take Two: Indicorps Fellow, Tushar Kansal (Aug 08) stays a second year in India
Should I stay in India? Should I continue doing service work? Should service be my main focus? How much money do I want to earn? How relevant are the plans that I had from before the fellowship year? And, above all, what does this past year mean to me in the context of the rest of my life?
In April, with a few months left in my fellowship year, I started thinking about the big “what’s next” question. This is a significant question for many fellows since the Indicorps experience is such a momentous shift from the previous trajectory of our lives.
Tentatively, I started exploring options to stay in India. Once I started looking, I was amazed at the many opportunities: staying on with my Indicorps project placement, editing a travel guidebook, joining Indicorps staff, helping start a world-class university in Orissa and laying the infrastructure for solar energy to take off across India, among others. Not bad, especially compared to what I had been hearing about peoples’ six-month job searches in the U.S.
The questions kept circling in my head. One of my initial reasons for coming to India was to explore the possibility of making a career and life here with the hope of shaping India’s mushrooming cities to make them more socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and more genuinely livable for the growing multitudes inhabiting them. Although I had not thought about these issues much during the course of my fellowship, my meandering train of thought returned to ponder these ideas. Is this still important to me? And what would working in this field in India actually look like?
With the help of an Indicorps introduction, I started work six weeks ago at an architecture, urban planning, and design firm in Ahmedabad. Staying in India another year not only gives me the opportunity to explore my professional interests and experience living in an Indian city after spending a year in a small town, it also allows me to enrich my engagement with the values that I lived and the process of growth that I began during my fellowship year. Whether it is grappling with what it means to “live simply” while working a professional job, befriending the support staff in the office, or viewing this segment of India through a holistic frame, I am continuing the journey that I embarked upon during my first year in India during this second one.
– Tushar Kansal, August 2008 Fellow