Here's what I think we did well:
- Sending a strong message to tribal children that their culture is valued and its preservation is important
- Strengthening relationships with like-minded organizations that helped us succeed in this project and will continue to bear fruit as time goes on: Tribal Museum of Arts and Artifacts and Radio Namaskar!
- Giving the children some special experiences, such as making recordings in a studio, meeting the Governor, going to the sea beach and providing photos with the caption "I Am Responsible for my Culture" on the frame in native language.
Here is what I wish I had done differently:
- Figured out a way to get tribal elders' songs and stories
- Prepared more context for the children for their exposure trip (a map of where we traveled, a job description for the Governor)
- Designing the project to be smaller in scope so that I could have completed all objectives successfully.
India still catches me unaware, even after almost a year living and working here. I underestimated how much support I would need from our field staff to complete my project activities and they have other commitments. Travel time and lack of cell phone coverage in the area make it very difficult for anyone to get things done, especially a foreigner who doesn't speak much Oriya and who is vulnerable without escort from a known NGO like SPREAD (there is some concern about trouble from radicals).
All in all, it was an excellent learning experience for me and I hope my efforts have made a small difference. "Mu asibi" as I might say in Oriya - I will see you later.