Challenging Gender Norms: A Conversation with Filmmaker Harjant Gill


Check out my interview with Harjant here:



Mending Maya

Est. 2015

Mending Maya is an intergenerational contact program bridging the years through meaningful connection in Delhi, India. It was founded by Aleksandr Chandra, a student at Connecticut College with the aim to bridge the gap not only between community partners, but also between the younger and older generations. Maya is a multivalent Bengali word the denotes web of attachments, affections, jealousies, and love that make up social relations in India.

Over the past several years, three main effects of modernity have severed maya–webs of attachments–between generations in India: westernization, urbanization, and women’s changing cultural and societal roles. Westernization has introduced the old age home, negative images of aging, and individualism. Urbanization has caused the breakup of the joint family: urban houses tend to be smaller and their walls more divisive and isolating than was previously the case. Consequently, elders are forced to remain their own caretakers on village lands. The…

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Unsung Heroes

My journey doesn’t begin with me, it begins with everyone else. It begins with a supportive mother, father, and sister. It begins with two sets of loving grandparents, an aunt, a cousin. It beings with friends who are like rare books of which but only one copy was made. It begins with our teachers in teaching others that we teach ourselves. It begins with our coworkers, our advisers, our seniors. It begins with those who create in our minds a world far better than the one we have created for ourselves. It begins with those who sacrifice their lives everyday to protect ours. It begins with the store clerk and the volunteer, those who contribute productively to our society and our very existence. It begins with the crossing guard and the school children. It begins with the principal and the janitor. It begins with the garbage man. It begins with our relatives and our neighbors. It begins with our bus drivers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, pilots, and railway conductors. It begins with our electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and our mailmen. It all begins with a different kind of hero.

It doesn’t begin with space cowboys or men with a mask and a cape. It doesn’t begin with celebrities. It begins, however, with those heroes that “fly beneath the radar.” It simply begins with a recognition for their efforts precisely because they did not ask for it.

It begins with unsung and ends with hero.

Aleksandr R. Chandra

Making A Case

The benefits of study abroad are almost endless. First of all, it’s going to make you much more marketable here in the United States, because more and more companies are realizing that they need people with experiences around the world, who can speak different languages, who can transition easily into other cultures and people who bring to their jobs a sensibility and a sensitivity for other people.


It will also make you more compassionate. We could always use more compassionate, young leaders out there in the world, people who are willing to step outside their comfort zones and be open to wiping away misconceptions.


Especially for U.S. students, it’s very hard to stay in your comfort zone when you’re living in another country. When you’re struggling with a language, new foods, learning directions, being forced to make friends and do things that you wouldn’t normally do, that’s going to set you up for a lifetime of value. It’s going to make you a better parent. It’s going to make you a better human being.


I want more young people like you to take that step. Try something new, travel abroad, and if you can’t travel abroad, use the Internet to see the world.


President Barak Obama, March 2014.

Studying Abroad: Maximizing the Experience

The Case for Studying Abroad

The benefits of international study go well beyond having a great experience. Americans who studied abroad earned on average $7,000 more in starting salaries than their peers who didn’t go overseas. In a recent 50-year survey of study abroad alumni, three-quarters said they acquired skill sets that influenced their career path, 80 percent reported more interest in their academic studies, and 96 percent said their time abroad increased their self-confidence. Research shows that studying abroad might even make you smarter. A recent study found that engaging with and adapting to new cultures helps students become better problem solvers, think more complexly, and demonstrate more creativity — all traits that pay off in any career.


With this said, how can students maximize their study abroad experience?

I want to hear from you so please share your thoughts!

A Letter

Dear [insert your name here],

Coming home has been more difficult than I could have ever imagined. My homecoming was peppered with feelings of warmth and love, a return to where it all began. Yet, coming home was contemporaneously a point of embarkation, the beginning of a new chapter in my life, a voyage across the sea of sense and sensibility. As I try to identify with home, the harder it seems to moor. Living in India for four months, I adapted and I understood. I must do the same now at home. With Thanksgiving on our heels, I will, harvest a new identity. I will sow the seeds of experience to cultivate a new perspective on life. I will set my eyes on the new world. I maximized the study abroad experience in the land of curd and chutney and now take it upon myself to do the same in the land of milk and honey.

To those forthcoming students who are thinking about studying abroad, I urge you to do so with intent. I am a firm believer in making the study abroad experience a more comprehensive process—an informative and a transformative experience. Take time for reflection and take that leap into the void to discover the inconceivable. Best wishes for your journey that lies ahead.

p.s. don’t forget to “live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Aleksandr Chandra

Conflict through Coexistence