During spring break MCC students and teachers usually try to get away from Arizona. The most common places to go are Mexico and California, or luckier people can afford Hawaii and Las Vegas. But one MCC teacher, Tracy Hokaj, chose a very unusual destination for her spring vacation she went to India.
Tracy Hokaj teaches 3 different classes at MCC: Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology, Women in Other Cultures, and Magic, Witchcraft and Healing.
Being an anthropologist she has visited many different countries like New Zealand, Russia, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy and more.
Her students are lucky, because Tracy tries to bring all her traveling experiences to her classroom. While learning about different cultures her students listen to national music, taste exotic foods and even wear traditional clothing.
“In anthropology when you go and spend time visiting places, that’s what students are really interested in. They are interested in your personal experiences. When you teach about the country you’ve never been, it’s a little difficult, you’ve done research, but it’s not enough. If you can go and live like they do, that’s when students really enjoy and learn from my first hand experiences,” Hokaj said.
This year was not Tracy’s first time in India. 11 years ago she spent three and a half months there researching and writing her Masters Thesis.
The subject of her research was life in an Indian Temple – Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, in the little village near the city of Nabadwip. She hasn’t been back ever since, even though she stayed in touch with people from the Temple.
“Some of my students last semester asked me, ‘Why haven’t you gone back?’ And I realized that I really wanted to go so I arranged the trip during our spring break,” Hokaj explained.
This year, by coincidence, her visit to the Temple was at the same time as the great spring festival Gaura-Purnima. Hokaj was strongly impressed with the size of the event and the amount of local and foreign participants.
The devotion of the attendees to the traditions of the festival was also very inspiring, she said.
Hokaj was comforted to see that while bigger cities like Bombay became more westernized, the little village of the Temple stayed very traditional and authentic. During this second visit she received many new experiences and a deeper understanding of the Indian culture, which she wants to share with her students.
“India and China are a great part of a global market today. Now with the way Americans are going into other countries to do business, especially for students who go into business or healthcare and will work with the diverse group of people, it’s very good to know and be aware of cultural differences.