PulseBack from India: Students reflect on life-changing semester

From enlightening to terrible, Gage Brown and Malcolm Fox discuss their extreme experiences of studying abroad in Bodh Gaya
Kara KillingerJanuary 31, 20191244 min
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The program

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Gage Brown in Bodh Gaya

Both Fox and Brown were interested in Buddhism before enrolling in the Buddhist studies program. Fox is a religion major, and he was especially excited about doing research of his own while in India over the three-week independent study portion.

“I felt like it was a unique opportunity to carry out a project from start to finish in my own division and to really show what I’m capable of as a student,” Fox said.

Brown is a studio art major, but she was attracted to the idea of filling her days with deep spiritual discussion. She decided to add a minor in religion so that the courses she took abroad would better apply to her degree plan at Trinity.

“I did very little work on my own finding [the program],” Brown said. “It kind of just was placed in my lap … It sounded like it was designed for me.”

Fox and Brown took three classes in Bodh Gaya: elementary Hindi, a Buddhist anthropology class and meditation traditions. These classes were followed by a three-week independent study portion.

Their coursework was not simply academic; rather, they were immersed in a holistic spiritual environment. Their meditation class in particular was an experiential one.

“We would meditate every morning and evening and have meditation teachers come in who were well-established members of the Buddhist community, Buddhist teachers who had kind of gained a following wherever they were from,” Brown said. “That was an honor to have those people work with us, and take time out of their lives to teach a bunch of American students how to meditate.”

Classes such as anthropology, however, had the students look at Buddhism as outside observers rather than as practitioners. Fox reflected on the strangeness of simultaneously studying a religion and intensely practicing it.

“At times, the line was very fuzzy between academic student and [Buddhist] practitioner just by virtue of the type of education that it was,” Fox said.

Pages: 123456

Kara Killinger

| Class of 2020 | Major: English | Minor: Creative Writing

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