By Ameya Bokil from India 

August 11, 2015

This is the first day of our group presentations, but more on that soon. I start my day (as a few us do) as I have been doing for about a week, with a Yoga session with Eva. Fikri also joins us and a few others have joined us on other days. It lends propulsion to the rest of your day. Some others prefer swimming every morning and I am sure that’s as fulfilling. These are activities that have helped us get along with each other outside the classroom. By and large, we seem to be a fitness conscious bunch. I am, of course, a faker but I have avowed to continue Yoga back home.

To come back to the presentations, it’s my day of observing the presentations of other groups. My group will present ours on ‘Democracy and Social Change’ tomorrow. The presentations start with the one by the ‘Reconciliation’ group with Anna, Annelie, Dilla and Wieke and the topic they had chosen was ‘Social Media & Reconciliation’. Mr. JC, their resource person had built up a hype about their presentation and it proved to be well justified. The activity they decided to carry out was quite fascinating. We were all divided into three groups representing the Government of Dadali (Dadali is the name of the building we have our classes in, geddit?), the UN Free and Equality group and the Human Rights groups in Dadali attempting to reconcile in a conflict over LGBT rights. The R-group had created a Facebook page called ‘Dadali today’, a social media outlet on which critical communications such as press releases and invitation meetings were carried. A resolution eventually was impossible to come to. The Government, of which I was part, behaved particularly boorishly to thwart any hope of reconciliation. We were made to introspect over our actions as the three parties to the reconciliation. A lot more was discussed in their group presentation, which indeed set a very high benchmark for the other groups.

The Religious Pluralism group with Fikri, Halili, Liz and Susan took over the stage. The focus of the group was transnational Islam and terrorism and they picked out three specific issues from three countries to analyse this issue. We were led downstairs in the area outside our rooms and conference hall building or what we consider as the cat territory. Liz, Susan and Halili carried out individual case studies from their respective countries and the group  took care to explain all nuances involved in the issues wonderfully and this amplified our understanding of religious pluralism. Back up, Fikri led a general discussion on the subject on an open floor and interesting comments about the problem and finding a solution were the result of this process. Following a different approach of in-depth case studies, the religion group matched the previous presentation.

The final presentation of the day, in the post lunch session was by the Sustainable Development group. This group included Catherine, Michiel, Mlondi and Sokhela. They started out with elaborating on the perspectives which are used to understand the relationship between the earth and humans, drawing a lot from the experiences of the summer school as well as from back home. Catherine also made us imitate an animal of our choice, in one of the most hilarious moments of the day. The last part of their presentation put to us specific questions that connected the theme of sustainable development to our respective group presentation topics. For instance, the question that was put us was about the link between green movements and counter hegemony and this really got us thinking beyond what we thought about our topic. This was a high that day 1 of our group presentations ended on. In all, the three groups quite nearly matched one another and I suppose if you go around the class, you could find people with their own favorites.

Afterwards, the people of the groups which presented today mostly chilled. I still had some work left with my presentation tomorrow. It didn’t stop me from going on one of our evening walks. Some others went shopping for groceries for the cooking session tomorrow. We also decided to have a screening of a “true” Bollywood movie after dinner (you know, one that has songs and a happy ending, but perhaps as good as the other movies from India we’ve seen on the school.) And then it’s the end of the day. There will be just two more of these at the Summer School and it’s hard to hear everybody already talk about having to leave. Must make the most of the two days that are coming. But first, the presentations tomorrow!


Ameya Bokil obtained an B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from National Law School of India University, in Bangalore and will soon join the Young Professionals Programme for Legal Empowerment at the Centre for Social Justice in Ahmedabad, India