Like a few others in the program I have tried many times to sit down and write this week 2 reflection post. And each time I find that I struggle to put into words the magnitude of this experience. Perhaps I don’t fully understand the impact yet. And perhaps I never really will. But I know something has changed, and I see things a little bit more clearly. As I embark on my remaining travels in South India for 10 days (and beyond), I will continue to ponder the impact.
In one of our final reflections we were asked to think about not only what we will take away from India but also what we are leaving behind. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine having any kind of impact on such an enormous country in which I only spent a few weeks. In thinking about any potential impact, I remember that it was stated in one of our pre-trip classes that we won’t remember the people we meet here a year from now but that they will remember us forever. I couldn’t fathom that being true at the time. But after having spent two and a half weeks gaining an understanding of the people of India, I now believe that we’re leaving an impact and an impression just by being present in this experience. As a group we’ve embraced trying new food, eating with our fingers, dressing respectfully and interacting freely with the people we meet. This is our impact. Showing a genuine interest and respect for the culture is the gift we can and have given to the people we meet.
I will close with a heartfelt thank you to my classmates. I couldn’t have hand selected a better group of travel companions. We all brought such different backgrounds, strengths and perspectives that allowed for a truly enriching experience. We were able to collectively maintain our openness to constant change and new experiences while also maintaining positive attitudes and senses of humor. When I look back on this trip, I’ll not only remember what India taught me but also what I learned from all of you. And I’ll remember the laughter. So thank you for making this trip as meaningful and comfortable as possible.