India has forever changed me. No one could have prepared me for what I have felt here. When I left the United States I was really confused about what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I was so worried about figuring out my future, and making a perfect plan for my life. I came with the expectation that I would leave inspired with a plan to conquer the world. I thought that is what I needed from India.
It turned out India had better things than a career path to give me. Instead it taught me lessons in humility, gratitude, and love.
I learned the lesson of humility through Dr. Susan and Navamani, two of the greatest yet most humble women I have ever met. They are both giving so much of their lives away in the service of others, but don’t seem to expect anything in return. In fact they have a beautiful habit of turning all the credit over to God. Something I hope I can emulate in my life.
Seeing the poverty here was shocking to me, but even more shocking was the fact that the people are still so happy despite their circumstances. This, I think, is because they are filled with gratitude. While out in the colony I frequently am thanked for the simplest of actions. I’ll take a picture of someone and they will thank me, I will sit down by a patient and they will thank me, I relayed a message to someone once and they thanked me, I was invited into someone’s house and they thanked me for looking around. Never have I met people so quick to express gratitude.
Most of all, my trip with Rising Star had taught me about love. The people of India drew me in from day one. Opening their hearts to me, a complete stranger, in a way I have never experienced; especially the kids. They love without holding back. The way they call “auntie, auntie” and grab onto your hands and drag you toward the playground could turn Cruella DeVil into a saint. The love doesn’t stop with the kids though. I have had experiences with the villagers, leprosy patients, house mothers, and other volunteers who have all, in their own way, made me feel loved.
I am going to be so sad to leave, but I leave with a heart full of gratitude for the wonderful opportunity to spend time with the beautiful people here. I hope I can take what I’ve learned here in India and share it with the world, because everyone deserves a taste of what I’ve experienced these last four weeks. I LOVE INDIA!