At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 3

Before reading on, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of the At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama series.

“They say that in the Army the coffee’s mighty fine
It looks like muddy water and tastes like turpentine
Oh Lord, I wanna go
But they won’t let me go
Oh Lord, I wanna go hoo-hoo-hoooome EH!”

These were the lyrics echoing in the bus carrying the 16 of us in Team Isidis to the activity area. Following the lead of a Space Camp instructor, we all sang in unison words that made little sense yet were comically captivating. But the bus was not adrift; it was taking us someplace where we would test ourselves and overcome our fears. At Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students, as much as we worked on mission stimulations, learnt about space history, and underwent astronaut training, a huge part of the week in space was to create an environment where everyone was encouraged to dare to exceeed their own expectations. One way in which that manifested were the high rope elements: to zipline, we had to climb walls, and to glide in the skies, we had to ascend a pamper pole.
Continue reading “At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 3”


At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 2

Well-rested and bubbling with excitement, we freshened up, descended the stairs, hunted for and joint our respective teams, and got ready for Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students 2018. At this point, I find it essential to give you a rundown of the structure of the teams, programs and activities at SCIVIS. 179 blind and visually impaired kids from 12 countries, most of whom had been accompanied by a chaperon (not me though, I go solo), were enrolled in programs such as Space Academy, Robotics, Aviation Challenge, and Advanced Space Academy and were sorted into teams of 15 students at an average. Teams at SCIVIS 2018 included Aries, Andromeda, Deimos, Elysium and many more and each team was led by one day trainer and another night trainer. As for me, I was part of Team Isidis in the Advanced Space Academy with my two trainers being… Live-In-The-Moment and Larry Page, shall we call them? (Coming up with veiling yet meaningful aliases is harder than I originally thought.) Just to be clear, Isidis is not a word in some alien language, but an actual name of a plain on Mars.
Continue reading “At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 2”

At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 1

On September 27, I embarked on my second voyage to the United States (happy belated Columbus Day, American mates!); to the Southern city of Huntsville, Alabama to participate in a weeklong event known as Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (hereinafter referred to simply as SCIVIS or Space Camp). In my “week in space”, I transformed from my geeky quiet self to a jokey extrovert, went from 179 strangers as fellow participants to 15 close teammates and several other great acquaintances, travelled without a chaperon but returned with a bunch of kind, caring and gifted teachers of the visually impaired who viewed me as their own student, and lived some days of my life so fun-filled, informative, and cherishable that the nostalgia of the experience will forever remain.
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In The USA – The People I Met

From July 28 to August 10, I was in the United States of America – spent a week attending the Cornell International Summer Debate Camp and another in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this trip, I reconnoitred three world-renowned universities (Cornell, MIT and Harvard), stayed in three American cities (Ithaca, Syracuse and Cambridge), and developed my argumentation, daily living and social skills. There were too many noteworthy experiences that I had in the USA to recount, but I hope to sketch some of them in subsequent blog posts if time and circumstance permit. Having said that, the biggest highlights of my travels were not so much the experiences but more so the diversity of people I met and the stimulating conversations I had with a number of them. These are the individuals whose stories fascinated me, intrigued me, inspired me. These are the folks whom I would like to (anonymously) introduce to you.
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