By Lisa Philippone ’11
“My interest in water started when I first traveled to India with the HWS program. I researched in Eastern India on the banks of the Ganga River for my independent fieldwork project. I was fascinated as I watched Hindus pollute one of their most revered deities, the river itself. I looked at the environmental aspects of what will come of the river as well as what will happen to religion when the river is so polluted humans can no longer bathe in it. This ignited my interest and I went back to India thanks to the Charles H. Salisbury Summer International Internship, this time to live in the desert where there was no water. I researched drought and the lack of water in the small desert village I lived in for my Honors Thesis and how having no water affected family life, religion and gender roles.
After graduation, I went to live in the Himalayas and attended Landour Language School. I worked for the New York State Independent College Consortium for Study in India (the same program I went on through HWS) and established contacts and lecturers for the group before they arrived. I attended six hours of intensive language study through the school every day and met with a private tutor in the evenings. My mind still wrapped around water, I found it enthralling how I could go only a six-hour train ride north from the desert to meet the monsoon season in the Himalayas. It was certainly a different experience as I waded up the mountain in knee deep flowing rivers to get to school each day. My home flooded daily and everything I owned was soon covered with mold and mildew, as laundry never dried and the rain never stopped. I spent six months up there and surprisingly loved every minute of it. I returned to America and taught Hindi lessons to young children in Rochester, N.Y., before beginning my graduate school applications.
All of my experiences led me to an interest in global health. I was just accepted to Duke University’s Global Health Program, and will begin work on my master of science this fall. I fell in love with the program the minute I heard about it. I am excited to be part of a master’s program that fosters not only an understanding of the challenges of global health, but works to resolve them as well. My hope is that the knowledge and experience I will gain from Duke’s Global Health program will allow me to realistically contribute to positive and lasting change in our world.”