Poorna Swami '15
Hometown: Bangalore, India
Likely Major: "I’m looking forward to whatever the college experience might entail! I’m particularly excited about studying literature and theatre."
Recent theatre experience: This summer I spent two months working with a theatre project called Fewer Emergencies, doing production work for two plays, Fake Palindromes and Lucky Lobster, and I acted in the latter as well. Lucky Lobster was about vendors from a market run solely by women in the East Indian state of Manipur. I loved running around to the remotest markets in the city to source production materials, building sets till the wee hours of the morning, and simply standing onstage, suspended in performance before an audience."
Other artistic passions: Photography and documentary filmmaking. "When I made my first film (a documentary on music in Bangalore), I found that I could understand people’s tales from their point of view and also retell them with my own. That feeling of being involved and detached at the same time draws me to the camera again and again. Photography and film are also an adventure of sorts—there is an uncertainty and a thrill in capturing a moment before it is no more."
On processing honey: "I’ve had hands-on experience in processing and packaging honey with two different NGOs—Keystone (based in the state of Tamil Nadu) and Kaigal Education and Environment Programme or KEEP (based in the state of Andhra Pradesh). Honey collection is a sustainable and important source of income for many tribal people. In fact, their traditional methods of honey collection are so sustainable they do not harm bee populations and are carried out in tandem with the seasons and phases of the moon. I also ate the best honey I have ever tasted—straight from the honeycomb!"
Career aspiration: Not set in stone. "A teacher once told me, ‘The things that you want to do most in life will take you by surprise.’ Delving into different experiences—books, lectures, internships, fieldwork—is my way of waiting to be surprised."
On my iPod: "I’m juggling between Laura Marling (an English folk/bluegrass singer) and Alim Qasimov (a Mugham singer from Azerbaijan)."
What I’m reading: River of Smoke, by Amitav Ghosh. "It’s a historical novel about the opium trade in nineteenth-century Asia. I am really enjoying the read, and the fact that he is coming to the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley in October [just across the street from campus] is making me doubly excited!"