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Many take winter break in distant lands

Senior music lecturer George Ruckert is one of many in the MIT community who plans to use his winter break for more than just unwinding from the first semester.

A musician who plays the Indian lute known as a sarod, Ruckert will use part of his winter break -- and then some -- to play classical Hindustani music in a series of concerts in India.

After training with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, considered by many to be among the world's greatest living musicians and one of the main forces in reintroducing Indian classical music to the world, Ruckert became an expert in Indian classical music and has shared his music with people all over the United States and abroad.

Although the music is considered "classical," it is new for many younger audiences in India. "They are often uninitiated," Ruckert said. Only in the last 50 years has the genre, once available only to the elite, been performed before broader audiences, he said.

Ruckert isn't the only member of the MIT community traveling thousands of miles from Massachusetts. Several MIT Sloan School of Management students will be using the tail end of their winter breaks, plus the Independent Activities Period (IAP), to scatter far and wide as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory (G-Lab), a program in which teams of MBA students work with host companies around the world for four-month mini-consulting projects.

Among them will be Sloan graduate student Ryan Hudson and his wife, Lauren DeFlores, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate. Hudson and DeFlores will be traveling to Auckland, New Zealand, with a three-day stopover in Fiji on the way.

"It is a pretty amazing opportunity," said DeFlores. Although her husband will be working, they have already planned their weekends and other downtime.

"I have done a lot of research for the trip," said DeFlores, who said she and her husband are both outdoor enthusiasts. The two plan to do some backpacking in New Zealand. "I am really excited," she said.

Crew coach Gordon Hamilton will also escape the New England winter over break. He's headed to Hollywood, Fla., with about 60 men, all members of the men's heavy and lightweight crew teams.

"It is a lot of fun," said Hamilton, who has been taking the trip for several years. The teams will be on the water all day throughout the two-week trip. It is a great opportunity to work on skills when the Charles River is frozen over, Hamilton said.

Ruckert, who has performed in India at least a dozen times over the years, is also planning to get some work done. He will both write and perform, with concerts planned in nine cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata (Calcutta) and Bangalore, plus concerts at two Indian Institute of Technology campuses in Delhi and Kharagpur.

"It is a great reward to be able to play concerts in India, for I have been given great musical gifts from my teacher, and it will be a pleasure to show his work to native audiences," Ruckert said.

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