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  • 1. I split my time this summer between working as a research assistant at Centre College and as an international volunteer in India with the NGO Cross-Cultural Solutions. At Centre, I worked alongside philosophy professor Daniel Kirchner on the Ethics of Food project. The goal of the project is (1) to produce a book that examines the ethical dimensions of what we eat and offers a serious philosophical argument for why we should take great care in making food choices and (2) to promote awareness and positive change in our own community concerning this issue. My research comprised time in the library and in the field. I read dozens of books, articles, and government documents on farming, food production, and our food system, and summarized important information for my professor. I also arranged visits to local farms and even toured a meat processing plant in action. As a result of our summer work, not only has my professor begun drafting the book, but I have my own article in the works which I hope to present at an undergraduate conference this year. Furthermore, as someone who has been thinking strongly about a career in academia, working as a research assistant alongside a professor gave me the opportunity to see first-hand what such a career is like. Finally, we are working to bring the Ethics of Food project to the Centre community at large. We are organizing a week-long symposium for faculty, students, and the general public on the topic in April, and we have also begun discussing with Sodexho and Centre ways the college can continue to be a leader in sustainability by becoming more mindful of where it obtains the food it serves. <br />My three-week program in India balanced volunteer work with learning and cultural exchange. The location of my program, in the northern city of Dharamsala, home to two cultures—the indigenous Indian population and the large Tibetan community surrounding the Tibetan government in exile—presented a multitude of such learning opportunities. I spent mornings teaching young Indian children English at a neighborhood school. Afternoons were reserved for cultural and learning activities, including Hindi lessons, lectures on India’s political history with a professor from one of India’s prominent universities, an Indian classical dance performance, a visit to an ancient fort that Alexander the Great encountered in his conquests over 2,000 years ago, and a question-and-answer session with the curator of the Library of Tibetan Archives and Works, who also happened to be the Dalai Lama’s translator. While not a formal academic experience, my time in India complemented my studies at Centre well. As a philosophy major, it is common to deal with questions of human rights and international justice in the classroom; indeed, my enrichment project from the previous summer involved me studying these issues in an academic setting. To be in India, in the developing world, however, and to revisit these questions from a first-hand perspective, which I can now bring back to the classroom, was invaluable. <br />