Photo courtesy: Gil Talbot Photography
Map of Harvard Destinations During Trip to India
The Harvard women's squash team is traveling to India for an
11-day training and service trip. Members of the team will
post regular blog entries on GoCrimson.com during their trip over
the next few weeks.
Post By Vidya Rajan ’13
Vidya’s family is from India. Her parents are originally from Chennai, and her extended family currently lives there.
Excitement is in the air as the Harvard women’s squash team prepares for its trip to India to train and do community service before the second half of the season ensues, bringing with it arguably some of the team’s toughest competition.
With a squad of 15 talented players from areas spanning the globe and the United States, the team currently holds a 4-0 record and a place atop the national College Squash Rankings. Despite undeniable success, however, the team is far from complacent; instead, members view the international trip as an opportunity to learn and develop. “There are many things the entire team will take away from this trip,” said co-captain Johanna Snyder. “Most importantly, I think we will learn a lot about each other, about the flourishing and beautiful culture of India, and hopefully a few new squash tips.”
In India, the team will travel to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Chandigarh, playing matches against the top local players as well as working with and teaching squash and doing academic tutoring to underprivileged children. The significant portion of the trip dedicated to community service—four days out of the 11—is what makes the journey especially noteworthy; the Harvard team’s purpose in India reaches far beyond simply playing squash for themselves. The team is already making a difference in India since the coaches packed up a lot of our squash gear and clothing from the equipment room and sent it over to the children we will be working with. “I’m really excited to play squash and do some academics with the kids from India,” said co-captain Katherine O’Donnell. “Playing squash is something that has so positively impacted my life, and will hopefully do the same for them.”
However, along with this excitement can come some tough realizations and adjustments to make. Among the various team members’ concerns are the challenge of meeting and interacting with others of different socioeconomic backgrounds, though this can ultimately lead to a greater acknowledgement of present opportunities and also an appreciation for Indian culture. “I imagine it is very different from here,” said freshman Eliza Calihan. “I can't wait to be immersed in such a different place.”
Above: Some of the items Harvard is donating to youth squash players in India.
Largely, team members anticipate the fact that being in a foreign country for the first time together will create a greater sense of solidarity. “I think this trip will bond Harvard omen's squash in a way that we could not have achieved staying in Boston for the break,” said Snyder. “Not only will we be together every day but we will be in a situation where we must rely and learn from each other.” From a squash standpoint, as well, the exposure to different venues will be key in developing the team’s resilience and adaptability to different circumstances.
And in fact, adaptability will be a necessary skill in order to adjust to the new environment. Bearing this in mind, team members are ready to welcome the cultural differences with open arms—in fact, the local cuisine is one of the greatest sources of excitement across the board, though potentially one of the greatest adjustments as well.
As the team gears up for its departure, there are no words to describe the players’ widespread exhilaration and enthusiasm. Hopefully, the team will return having grown both on and off the squash court, and upon its return can hone in on the national title.