Lizzy Peake is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College and is interning with us this summer through the Mount Holyoke College McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. Here are some of her field notes….
"I came to Under the Mango Tree afresh from a semester abroad studying development and globalization in Thailand. As an Environmental Studies Major at Mount Holyoke College, I seek to understand development from multiple perspectives. I was particularly interested by how UTMT works in the least-developed areas of India, bringing farmers a way to improve their livelihoods. Thus equipped with interest and curiosity, in June I flew to India to be the Field Office Intern at UTMT.
My experience here has been one of diversity and abundant learning. I began my orientation at UTMT’s main office in Mumbai, becoming familiar with UTMT’s projects as well as my own internship tasks. After my orientation and a day spent sightseeing the fabulous architecture of Mumbai, I took an overnight train to the field office in Bhopal. Living in Bhopal has been an exciting (the markets are bustling!), and sometimes scary (watch out for the motorbikes!), experience. From dodging cow dung, cows, cars, and trash, to stepping outside my door to purchase fresh mangoes, tomatoes, or dahi (yogurt), living in Bhopal is a diverse experience. I’m still fascinated by the laid-back nature of the people, the slums next to the high-end mall, or the relative lack of space between one driver and the next.
I have also learned to extensively travel, and am thrilled by the opportunity to see so many people and places throughout Madhya Pradesh. My first field visit took the MP team and me to the district Umaria, to talk to farmers and a partner organization about a Beekeeping Resource Center. Last week we took a bus to Betul, and visited seven villages in two days. Next week we go to Sihor and Hoshangabad. Each visit I have interviewed farmers, met with partner organizations, and just learn about how people live and work in different villages. I have been excited to see bustling, healthy bee boxes, disappointed at abandoned ones, awestruck by the sheer abundance of limes a tree can produce when introduced to bees, and impressed by how much women can carry on their heads with such ease and grace.
It has been fascinating to observe the development of Mumbai versus Bhopal versus the villages. I have learned so much about farmers’ attitudes towards beekeeping, their livelihoods, their future hopes. My journey is still continuing, and I am looking forward to any new adventure I am sure to face.”
—Under the Mango Tree post