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Youth exchange student, Isha Kakkad talked about her home in India and her experience as an exchange student in Tigard, Oregon.

India is the 7th largest country in the world encompassing a wide variety of geographic areas including rainforests, desserts, alluvial plains, and the Himalayan Mountains.  It is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The country also has followers of Islam, Christianity, Parsi and Judaism.  It is a multi-lingual country with over 1500 dialects.

Isha is from the city of Jalgaon in Maharashtra State, an area famous for bananas, cotton, sugarcane, and gold.  It is also known for two World Heritage Sites, the Ellora and Ajanta Caves that are a series of monasteries and religious monuments dug into high rock cliffs.  The food in this part of India ranges from mild to spicy and includes ingredients like wheat, rice, vegetables, and lentils.

Her presentation coincided with Republic Day in India which celebrates the 1950 constitution.  Emperors ruled the country before the British colonized it.  Now, India has a federal government that includes executive, legislative, and judicial branches and an elected prime minister.  Mohandas Gandhi is considered the “Father of the Nation ” for his defiant march to the sea in 1930 to protest the British monopoly on salt.  Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in the Indian diet.

Among other things, India is famous for inventing the decimal system, the “zero,” and Pi.

At home in India, Isha lives with her parents, grandparents, and her nine-year-old sister.  Her parents’ marriage was arranged, but Isha remarked that this is hard to believe because of their obvious love for each other.

While on exchange, Isha has made many new friends and become more independent and confident.  She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps in the lentil trade business.  She intends to continue her education at a university in Sydney, Australia.  Her advice to next year’s outbound exchange students: “Try everything and participate in everything.”