I spent 6 weeks in India. That estimates to about 1008 hours or 60,480 minutes. I can guarantee that each and every moment will live on with me forever and has impacted my life in the most positive of ways. I want to make a special shot-out to Gabrielle, Suman, Girish, and the many donors who made this trip possible. Six months ago, I did not think I would have been able to go to India, but here I am writing about the most amazing experience to date. I also want to thank the teachers, director, and students of Magnolia who made this a trip to remember. I have learned more than I ever thought I could and have grown to love and cherish a culture that prior to this trip I knew very little about.
During this journey, I have had many first’s.
- Drank out of my first coconut
- Rode a bike through India traffic
- Let a monkey eat out of my hair
- Went on a safari
- Went white water rafting
- Pet an elephant
- See the Taj Mahal
- Successfully rode in a rickshaw
- Experienced an Indian monsoon
- Got henna on my hands
- Used my first squatting toilet (which is not as bad as I thought it would be!)
Although India has the most beautiful architecture and is filled with the most vibrant colors, the amazing sites and experiences would be nothing without the people I met along the way. To quote one of my favorite movies, Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real when shared.” On the trip, I met some of the most wonderful people with the most beautiful of souls. I made some new friends and even some best friends. I wouldn’t trade them for even the most amazing sites in India. Some say that happiness is not about the destination but about the journey getting there and that couldn’t be more true. I have had so many laughs and many unforgettable conversations. At the end of the day, I am more likely to remember my students smiling faces and the hilarious moments during my trip in India rather than the Taj Mahal.
Now, I wanted to make a special thanks to some people that have impacted me the most.
Laura & Ollie:
Words cannot describe how much you both mean to me. You have been with me since day one of the trip and I can promise both of you that this trip would not have been the same without you. Thank you for making me laugh uncontrollably throughout the entire trip and for introducing me to the fun game of “Capitalism.” I have enjoyed all the movies we watched together on the trip and meeting such friends as Krishna and Bala along the way. I loved our crazy adventures and the even more crazy experiences of taking rickshaws and trying to find transportation throughout India. I loved all of our late night conversations and pillow-talks. You both have let me open up to you without the fear of being judged and I am so grateful for that and I hope you experienced the same with me. I have loved all of our failed attempts of taking photos together, which I know will make me laugh when I look back at them years from now. Laura, with your loving, compassionate, and expressive personality and Ollie, with your spontaneous, honest, and bold personality created the perfect balance for me. You will both be in my heart forever and I am excited to see you both soon!
Going to foreign country thousands of miles away from familiarity can be an overwhelming and terrifying experience. It takes a special person like yourself to make India feel like a second home. You make the planning and logistics of our time here seem effortless, although I know there is much work and preparation that goes on behind the scenes. Thank you for creating a safe and comfortable experience for us that has allowed me to grow as a person and an educator. I feel like we connected right off the bat and have many commonalities between us! I will miss our talks and the laughs we have shared along the way! I hope we get a chance to meet again, but for now I hope to keep in contact with you through email or Facebook. This trip has meant the world to me, so thank you for making this journey possible! Thanks again for being our ‘Indian mom” and Wonder Woman! ❤
And last, but certainly not least, my students:
To the 6th, 7th, and 8th standard students at Magnolia that I had the wonderful privilege to work with, thank you for making this experience a special one that will live on with me forever. You were my favorite part of each day and I always woke up excited know that I would get to see you all at school! Thank you for allowing me to teach and observe in each of your classes and it has been such a pleasure getting to know each and every one of you. Thank you for your patience as I tried learning your names and butchered the pronunciation. I will miss the good times we shared and the many laughs we had. My last day at Magnolia was the hardest. It took all of my strength to hold back the tears as I was saying good-bye. I loved all of the thoughtful gifts, good-bye letters, and the many, many friendship bracelets I received. After spending six weeks with all of you, I know for a fact that teaching is the career for me. I was initially worried about working with middle school students since I am used to teaching high school students, but you all made my job easy and I loved every second working with you all and I hope you enjoyed the time we shared together. I wish you all the best of luck for the rest of this school year and I hope one day we get the chance to meet again!
At the end of the day, 6 weeks went by too fast, but no matter how long the trip is, saying good-bye will not get any easier. But nothing worth having ever is. I have left India with a heavy heart that misses everyone I have met, but my heart is also filled with many life-changing memories and experiences. Thank you all for everything and I hope to see you all soon.
Until we meet again,