Students Abroad: Harland Dahl in New Delhi, India

July 14, 2016

With funding from the South Asian Studies Travel Research Grant for Undergraduate Students, Harland Dahl, a Class of 2018 political science major with a global health concentration, traveled to New Delhi, India, to work for the Population Foundation of India.

I’ve just finished my third week living and working in New Delhi, India, and I can’t believe how quickly my time here has gone. New Delhi is at once historic and metropolitan, frustrating and inspiring, and chaotic and beautiful. Cluttered throughout the city’s cramped streets are sprawling parks and ancient temples, thousands of yellow and green auto rickshaws, and more than 16 million people. I’ve spent my first few weeks settling into the city — seeing Delhi’s historic sites, getting to know my coworkers, trying new foods, and learning basic Hindi phrases. I’ve learned which street foods won’t cause “Delhi belly” and how to handle weather above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and I look forward to continuing to learn from Delhi, its culture, and its people this summer.

While in Delhi, I will be working for the Population Foundation of India (PFI), an organization using policy, advocacy, and research to promote development, health, and responsible population growth in India. As a PFI intern, I am working on a joint PFI Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project entitled “Realizing Commitments to Family Planning.” This project aims to educate and engage members of the Indian Parliament on issues of female empowerment and women’s sexual and reproductive rights. In my first two weeks at PFI, I’ve produced literature reviews and factsheets focusing on the connections between reproductive rights and female empowerment, the importance of method mix in contraceptive provision, and identifying best practices in the family planning programs of NGOs in India and abroad that can serve as guidelines for rights-based population policy in India. In my first weeks at PFI, I’ve already learned so much about population policy and women’s rights in the developing world. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with so many passionate, hard working people here at PFI, and I am excited to have the chance to be part of their team this and next month.