By: Jenna DeWalt, March 2016
The 2016 Global Justice Program Spring Break Trip took place in Delhi, India. The ten-day adventure with six fun-loving students and Professor Jeff Baker was an experience of a lifetime. We made great friends, built stronger relationships, tied down more roots, and fell in love with the country beyond what was imagined. Our short time in the country led us to cram our daily schedules with as much as we could and included: a two-day workshop on negotiation and advocacy led by Professor Baker, visits to various NGOs in the area to learn about how they address the specific justice issues in their communities, and a day trip to the infamous Taj Mahal. In the midst of the haste, there were moments and experiences that reminded each of us of our lack of immunity to extreme poverty and human suffering.
One afternoon, we visited an NGO in a rough neighborhood. Rough neighborhood is a generous term as it was, in fact, a slum. My initial coping mechanism as we entered the slum was my typical: “I’ve seen it all before, I’ve seen the worst, this will be okay.” And I was doing fine until we walked through an area where a mother was sitting in the dirt cooking. Her kids were more sickly and grungy than I had ever seen. The stench of garbage was overwhelming. Everything in me wanted to get back to a place of safety and comfort as quickly as possible. The mother making dinner stopped a small cluster of our team and said in Hindi to our Indian guide, “I don’t understand why you would bring the white-skinned people here to see me and my dark skin.” She said this as she tugged on her arm identifying the source her “shame.”
I was instantly wrecked by the hopelessness and insecurity of the woman—and I felt paralyzed that we, in that moment, were powerless to do anything to restore truth and hope in her life. As short-term visitors, our only immediate response was to pray. And I am praying that God meets that woman. I am praying that through her, that entire community is transformed to a place of power, authority, and peace through her Maker.
I am confident that each of the students on the trip could write about similar poignant moments during their time in Delhi. We strive to provide our students with transformative experiences that engrain the mission of Pepperdine to strengthen the values of purpose, service, and leadership in each individual. We want our students to walk away from Pepperdine Law into Global Justice and Human Rights professions with open hands, wet feet, moist eyes, and quiet confidence to address the most pressing needs of injustice in our world today.