Students and faculty members from Fairfield University, Connecticut visited LSR on the 5th of January, 2016 for a dialogue on ‘Being Young and Woman.’ Students from different departments of LSR also participated in the dialogue facilitated by Dr. Parul Bansal and Dr. Megha Dhillon. The objective of the interaction was to cultivate among the participants, a culturally informed and sensitive understanding of the lives of young women in two very different parts of the world.
The session began with our Principal Dr. Suman Sharma welcoming the visitors to LSR. Thereafter the participants were requested to make small groups and interact with each other on particular themes. These themes included the role of the family in development, identity formation within complex and heterogeneous societies, relationships/intimacy and negotiating the multiple worlds that young people find themselves belonging to simultaneously. Each group then shared their understandings with the other participants.
Various points of convergence emerged between the Indian and American students including perceiving family to be a fundamental and primary context of socialization, recognizing strong inhibitions around sexuality and pressures towards Heteronormativity, and living in societies that are rigidly structured and hierarchical on the basis of caste, race, socio-economic variations and so on. Differences were also identified for example with respect to mobility with the participants from LSR stating that public spaces in Delhi continue to remain extremely unsafe diminishing women’s freedom of movement and producing tremendous anxiety in parents. This was not reported to be the case for women living in the US where greater freedom was experienced in this context.
After the discussion, participants moved to the LSR cafe for lunch where students from both communities continued their conversations.