If anyone deserves a holiday break, it’s the No. 1-ranked Harvard women’s squash team.
For four games, it has been the most dominant women’s squash team in the country. With wins over No. 5 Cornell, No. 8 Williams, No. 9 Dartmouth, and No. 10 Brown, it has yet to lose this season.
But instead of indulging in some well-deserved rest and recuperation, head coach Satinder Bajwa and his team are venturing around the world to India where they will train, experience Indian culture, and visit underprivileged areas to teach children squash.
“Culturally, being a country so different from the U.S. and working with some of the underprivileged children there, doing community service will really give them a lifetime experience,” said Bajwa. “Being of Indian origin, I thought I could give them a good outlined experience of India.”
The team will fly out on Jan. 5 and arrive in Mumbai on the 7th. They will tour India, do a bit of playing and training in Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi, before traveling to Chandigarh for four days of running squash workshops.
The team will be teach squash to underprivileged children in Chandigarh between the ages of 10 to 14, and the visit will expose some team members to an unfamiliar standard of living.
The trip has special meaning for Alisha Mashruwala ’11, who is from Mumbai and will get an opportunity to share her country with her teammates.
“It’s going to be good for everyone to not only see the good parts of India, but also to get a chance to talk to some of the more underprivileged children,” said Mashruwala. “That gives them the opportunity to do something that they may have never gotten the opportunity to do before.”
The trip will be chronicled on a blog created by the team. Each day a member of the team will write about her experiences, which will include a tour of the Taj Mahal, a match against the Cricket Club of India, and the volunteer work, among other activities.
“We didn’t want to go for squash, we wanted to get a well-rounded experience with squash, and the calendar allowed us to do that for the first time, and we took advantage of it,” said Bajwa.
With nearly a two-month break from squash and final exams wrapping up, excitement and anticipation is mounting for the team as it approaches what Bajwa hopes will be an unforgettable life experience for the 14 players.
“I want them to really appreciate how privileged and how lucky we all are, having such a great opportunity in life to play squash, go to a great college … and be lucky to have what they have,” said Bajwa.
Looking forward to the trip, freshman Vidya Rajan, who is from Bellevue, Wash., but has extended family in India, said, “It’s an amazing chance, and it’s incredible to think that I could be inspiring to a lot of kids. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to present myself that way, and hopefully I will be able to inspire them.”
Follow the team’s trip at GoCrimson.com.