Saturday, June 18, 2005


RTN Grant entry and List of Interviews

Below you will find an entry I recently submitted to the Road Trip Nation Grant Program.


Below you will find our grant application. I met with Brian McAllister at Purdue about two months ago. We both are very excitable people and as Jillian and I shared our ideas Brian inspired us to shoot video and track our international roadtrip to India in a blog. We did both and returned to America last week.

In short, we spent a month in southern India living with local people, interviewing NGO leaders, business outsourcing people, community developers, slum children, middle class children, street children, volunteers, a retired Indian couple, and a software developer. We both did interviews and we gave back to the community by using Jillian's artistic skills and we put on four art camps. I was in charge of setting up all our connections (via a month and a half of cold-emailing-calling), all technical stuff, and most of the video.

You've got to check out our blog to get an idea of what we did! See pictures and our raw, unadulterated thoughts:

Each team member's: name, info, and role on trip
#1: Jillian M. Longheier, Purdue Graduated with Masters in Art May 2005, she is the artist and a writer and photographer.
#2: Jonathan A. Wolter,, 765-532-6876, Purdue University BSIE May 2005 (engineering), coordinator, videographer, writer and guy who carries heavy bags.

Descriptive Name for roadtrip
Art View (India)
We are both creative people, Jillian is a bona-fide artist, so we are using our Artistic interests and skills to understand India from the viewpoints of children, business professionals, NGO leaders and retired people.

Destinations (approx.)
Chennai, India (Madras) May 11-18
Bangalore, India May 19-June 3
Chennai, India (Madras) June 4-8

Interviews (all were successfully completed)
Video Interview: Dr. Nirmal, founder of Exnora International, an NGO with several hundred thousand members focusing on environmental issues in India. He also is a speaker and international trainer on effectiveness and leadership. He has founded over two dozen organizations. He talked about keys to success and how he went from living in a slum to transforming thousands of lives. (

Video Interview: Krupa, co-founder of Sukrupa Community Development which feeds and teaches 300+ slum children a day. She was formerly a very successful international businesswoman, and she discusses the transition from a life of luxury to service (

Video Interview: Kamla Ravikumar, an artist and interior designer who formed an art institute in Chennai to meet a need left by the schools in teaching art instruction.

Video Interview: Fr. Cyriac Adayadiel, Director of Vocational Training at Bosco Mane, a residential home for street children. He formed this organization 25 years ago and it has helped thousands of boys from the street. He shared what made him successful, why he choose this over other careers and risks in going out on your own forming an NGO.

Video Interview: Ram Sinam, graphic design consultant. He formed his own design studio after graduating from the number one design school in India and discussed the journey of running his own company. Also he gave Jillian tips on entering the design field from her background of fine art, and he shared his ideas on "what is design."

Informal Interview over breakfast: Narayan Sethuramon, Managing Director W.S. Industries (India) LTD. ( He shared education in India, how he gives back to the community, and his experiences as a Purdue Alumni in India.

Informal Interview about outsourcing in India: Malati et. al. of Allsec Technologies, Ltd. a Business Process Outsourcing (call center) company.

Informal Interview: Vishal Talreja, managing trustee of Dream a Dream, an NGO that collaborates with other organizations to encourage children to accomplish their dreams, no matter what hardships they may face (

Informal Interview: Mr. and Mrs. Ramachanadran, our first host family that let us stay with them and absorb the culture of India. They are a retired couple and they discussed what transformations India has undergone as well as gave a wiser generation's perspective of India.

Informal Interview: Krishna Chandra, our second host who is a software professional. He discussed everything from the future of India to childhood education, to village life to the influence of the west. Also he shared with us how his life went from a mining engineering degree to IT and Software.

Video Interview: with an (unnamed) child who was a (forced) child laborer, but since has moved into Bosco Mane, a street-children's residential home. He now wants to become an Engineer and performs very well in school.

Many other video interviews were taken, we shot over 12 hours of video.

We also spent two days in a Yoga Ashram learning a great deal about "real yoga," not "Americanized-get-it-at-Wal-Mart-in-the-sporting-goods-isle" Yoga.

Purpose – Why do you need to hit the road? What do you hope to get out of it?
We had 4 reasons:
#1: The world is not like America--we needed to fully experience another culture, their value structures, and take their lessons back to our friends and family.
#2: Jillian just finished an art exhibition which focused on child and women human rights abuses in developing countries (including India). She had to go to the impoverished children and experience their stories first hand.
#3: Jonathan is intrigued with the economic and political transformations India is experiencing and wanted to talk to people first hand about what this third world country is undergoing. It seems that China gets most of the press about how it's the "factory of the world" and already graduates more engineers than America. The truth is that India is an established and stable democracy which is experiencing tremendous economic growth. How is that really transforming the poor and children... I had to know.
#4: This adventure combined all of our interests: video, art, teaching, business, cross-cultural experience and more.

Our (tight) budget
Airfare: US$ 1100 for Jillian, frequent flyer miles for Jonathan.
Lodging: US$ 340 total
Food: $6 per day * 32 days = US$190
Video Equipment (camera, wireless lav mic, lav mic, shotgun mic, wide angle lens, extra batteries, tapes, 160 Gb HD) $750

Do not hesitate to contact me with ANY questions or for more details. I look forward to your response.

Jonathan and Jillian

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I haven't disappeared. I've just been busy packing to move out of my apartment.

Well, I've been back in the U.S. for week now. India seems very far away. I expected to feel more of a culture shock when I got home, but it is barely there. I think spending over 36 hours within the confines of airports and airplanes desensitized the impact of switching environments. Nonetheless there are a few things I have noticed about the U.S. that I overlooked before. It's extremely clean, quiet, open, and peaceful. I drove across Illinois a couple days ago, and I was just amazed by the flat open fields- the yellow green meeting up with the blue sky was serene. The natural landscape in India (witnessed from the train) is much more rugged. The colors are also a bit more jarring. The dirt is a rusty colored and it is accompanied by its complementary color, the green of grass and trees. This Indian landscape gives me an emotional reaction I can't quite desribe, but I'll just say that it is quite different from the feelings I get when I see American midwestern farmland.

In his last blog, Jonathan mentioned the difference between traffic here and in India. I feel it too. I'm amazed at how behaved the drivers are. No one feels the need to honk their horn at anyone. Everyone stays within the lanes painted on the roads. The streets are far less crowded here with no random cows or pushcarts selling vegetables. I do have to admit that when I crossed the street yesterday I got a little confused as to which way I was supposed to look. I expected the cars to be driving on the left side of the street.


An open letter to Krishna

This is an open letter to my new Indian friend Krishna. He was soooo gracious to let us stay in his house for two weeks! (originally it was going to be only 2 days.)

Thanks so much for all of the time you spent with us, man I do miss India.. but it’s the most unexpected things that I miss.

Like the heat. (my apartment I’m staying in for my Target internship is quite cold, as is the 75 F temp out side). And the traffic. I keep wanting to Jwalk and cross through moving traffic because it seems so tame here. I tend to lose the other people I’m walking with, which doesn’t stop surprising me! I expect everyone to just walk through the street like in India. And the (good) food (that I liked), like yours! It was soo much fun, I’m looking for my next adventure now… so any suggestions are welcomed!

I think I’ll also look into the work experience opportunities a bit you mentioned… maybe in 4-5 years… I’ll be working in India...

Thanks Krishna!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


My coolest addiction and this blog

I developed a very intellectual, but slightly inconvenient addiction while in India. There were so many great book stores (or street hawkers) selling books from extremely-way-too-cheap to good-deal-cheap. I bought a lot of books, maybe 45 books. Jillian got a few kilos as well.

I can’t wait to read them.

In fact I’ve started several. If it’s okay with Jillian I’ll post tidbits of what I learn up here to this blog. I’m reluctant to totally change the theme—but (hello!) I’m not in India and I will have a hard time getting the Art View of India for at least the near term while I’m in the US. And we’ve got soooo many loyal readers (hi Popsicle Pete!) I feel we just have to keep posting.

This is what I propose for the blog: “Art View (India).”

Jillian’s still an artist, and I’m a creative person… so that’s kinda related to art. We both create viewpoints on life, and interesting perspectives. So…. Let’s combine this to be a blog of the two of us as we (1) read our 50 kilos of books we bought, (2) reflect on the video post production, (3) ditto for the compilation and possible integration of the children’s artwork with Jillian’s future art, and (4) keep an open mind of how to add art perspectives by children in the US or other countries.



Going to India was an invaluable experience for my growth and development. I have traveled to the Amazon, Europe, out west and east in the states, Canada’s tundra, some Mexico and an Island in the Caribbean. However--I was young in those experiences, and I ended up learning more culturally than I ever expected.

The developing world has changed dramatically since last time I visited third world nations (~10 years back in South America.) When I was there, crowds would occasionally follow me because of my blonde hair and fair skin. I saw no TVs in rural villages, and a motorized boat was a rare occurrence. Even India’s slums we visited had many televisions and cable or satellite. And from what I was told, there is medium to high TV penetration in villages. People were more familiar with westerners (I suspect through TV) and no crowds followed me and touched my hair.

Most surprising to me is how India is similar to the west. Of the 100+ children we worked with, most smiled frequently, watched movies (many the same as we watch), played freely, laughed, ate enough food, and had experience with westerners before. This does not mean that there are children in India who suffer immensely. Many do, and we met a few who rose up from horrific pasts. What’s important to me is that it seems the country is moving forward and there are many NGO’s that truly care for kids and give them love, education, food, and encouragement that they may not get in traditional family structures.

Interestingly, many of the original big dreams I had of what the trip would turn into did not materialize. I wanted to film a gut wrenching documentary that would bring tears to any westerners’ eyes. I wanted to compile the artwork to publish a book to raise awareness of needs of Indian Children and sell for fundraising. I believe both of these ideas are still worthy to be done, but we did not film exclusively what was “gut wrenching.” Some shots may be touching, but in a whole this is a country with a solid democracy, free elections, a liberalizing economy, and (in my opinion) an extremely bright future.

Other dreams have materialized. I learned a lot about myself and my friend Jillian. This was hoped for. I saw many more of my own weaknesses and personal development areas I need to improve in that I ever expected. Also, I accept and appreciate more the country I live in—and cherish a common language. India has 84 different languages—not dialects but full fledged languages. I saw first hand the development in the “Silicon Valley of India,” Bangalore. Sitting down and reading the newspapers, magazines and talking to the locals we lived with gave me a huge insight into the country.

It was very good. It was very inexpensive to travel there. I encourage you to do your own travel into a third world nation, live with locals (minimize hotels), and soak it in deep.

So next time where do I want to go? Jillian accused me two weeks ago of already thinking of the next big thing—which may be either China, North India, Thailand, the Warsaw Pact nations, or a Spanish speaking country like Mexico or Costa Rica. The fact that Krishna whom we lived with is planning a budget bicycling and camping journey on the highest navigable road in the world (up in the Himalayas’ of northern India) and I’m invited is a very tempting idea.


Am I there yet?

The trip to and from India is complete. Well, almost.

I’m actually sitting in an airport terminal in Toronto typing away in Word because:
a) I accidentally pulled out the inflatable life raft and inflated it in the plane, which incidentally led to a lengthy reprimand by airport security missing my flight
b) Germany changed times on my flight to Toronto for no reason
c) I enjoy the airport lifestyle of not showering for 36 hours, toting around kilos of luggage, and running through terminals pretending to talk on my phone shouting “hold the plane” only to disappear around a corner and repeat it.
d) I was so busy coming up with pretend reasons why I missed a flight that I actually missed one.
It’s b. The flight was delayed 45 minutes and there wasn’t enough time to: deplane, go through customs, make declarations, duly fill paperwork, pick up everything at baggage claim, change terminals, re-enter customs for the US, check in myself and my bags for the connecting flight, and re-plane in 50 minutes. Do you like how I used “duly?” That’s a word I picked up in India.

I’ll wait for an hour and then go to Chicago and hopefully Jillian and our ride Lindsay and John will be there to pick me up still!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


In India - But Leaving...

I'm in an internet cafe in the airport, almost ready to depart. It's a little sad to leave. But overwhelmingly a happy experience. I will enjoy home, my food and yes even working. It caught me by surprise as I kept noticing myself whistling as I wheeled around my baggage waiting to check in. Yes, I zoomed and played on the amazing baggage cart--like a supermarket cart but it doesn't turn on me and the bearings were great so it could glide all accross the Chennai International Terminal. It was like watching Swan Lake for the security guards as I mastered the cart. Jillian gave a try at the "ballerina toe glide."

I leave India a different person. Well, I have learned alot about myself I never knew before, so perhaps I'm the same, but I am wiser.

One thing I notice is the airport looks so modern and shiney and fresh. Well, it looks this way as I leave. But when I arrived I thought it dingy, smelly, hot, humid, incomplete, under construction, and entirely third world. Hmm. Funnny how a month in vastly unfamiliar territory will reframe our mind. Refreshing.


All our bags are packed and we're ready to go

I'm leaving on a jetplane, don't know when I'll be back again. Jonathan and I are both ready to leave India and go home. It's a long flight though- about 24 hours, and since I am flying Air India again, I won't really be leaving India until I land in Chicago. Jonathan, however, will be experiencing German culture as he flies Lufthansa. He is excited about not eating Indian food anymore.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Final days in India

After two days at the yoga ashram, Jonathan and I were both extremely happy to get back to the insanity of Indian city life- smog, constant beeping and honking, and negotiating with auto rickshaw drivers is much more exciting.

When we got back to Bangalore we picked up all of our tailoring. I have to say that I am now pleased with my suit. I had to have a new pair of pants made, and the jacket was altered to flatter my ever so slight curves. Going to the tailor is an interesting experience as they are all male. Here I am with all these professional tailors plus Jonathan looking at my clothing and telling me how it should fit.

Now we are back in Chennai winding down our trip. I have to say that I now prefer the auto rickshaw drivers in Bangalore. They don't seemed to know how to use their meters here.


Om shanti shanti shanti-i-i

The final line to all the chants (prayers) sung at the yoga ashram has been running through my mind continuously for the past two days. I believe the meditation and everything is supposed to bring a soul to peace, however, since I can't rid my mind of it, I am getting quite annoyed. While I felt the chanting was really beautiful to listen to, it becomes very monotonous very quickly.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Ashram ... what a funny word

hey, it's good to hear from you. right now i'm in an ashram in india. yea, the internet fad hit these sort of remote spiritual, yogic, mystical places too. They even have like 6 telephone lines and mobiles everywhere. The website is

I'm not into the spiritual chanting, meditation, or religion of it. And I'm only slightly into the yoga. I'm really glad i came though to experience (deeply) another culture for two days, and to be surprised with the similarities I see in this culture to our own. Some of these similarities are:
* People (all over the world) enjoy a good time laughing. That's why they scheduled an hour long Happy Assembly every day here. I went once, and while I was confused with what was going on (some sort of skits, chanting, clapping and OM's) I laughed a bit. And everyone else laughed alot. There were shy people, outgoing people, and picked on people (hence the laughter). Just like at home.
* People (all over the world) can use bugspray (this relevation is from bug-bitten Jillian's Malarian mumblings). Just kidding, she doesn't have malaria--and she leaves a wake of dead bugs all around her with her billowing plume of DEET laden repellant.
* People (all over the world) who are effective either get up early or go to bed late in order to be highly effective. Here they wake at 4:30 and do OM meditation. I slept through the first day's OM meditation (I guess I wasn't highly effective) but today I made it. I got up at 4:30 and went to this hall and (ahem, tried to) sing Sanskrit words and chant OM. Yea, it is like it sounds, OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. This included some "waking up alertness breathing exercises." After OMMMM'ing till 5:30 I went to yoga till 6:30. This consisted of... exactly the same asnas (poses) as yesterday. Following this I promptly went to sleep until 10:30 am, of which I slept through breakfast, more chanting, another yoga, chores and something else which I already forget. (Once again, I wasn't highly effective--yet!) The point is (which I am clearly currently missing) an effective person must spend several hours uninterrupted a day in work, this may be early in the a.m. or late at night.

It's been a good experience here, and I'm througly ready to go. (Although not as eager to leave as Jillian). She's been a very good sport, incidentally. In fact she was more excited to get here than I on the trip to this place. Now we're both ready to leave and go home to the gym and eat our food with forks. (We use hands here. Or I should be correct--the Right hand.)

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