Home… the place I long for when away. the place I also often long to leave to expand my horizons. the place to which I’ve returned after four unforgettable weeks in India.
Throughout the process of preparing for my time in India, finally embarking on the long-anticipated journey and returning home, I knew that the process of reflection would be a vital part of the full experience. I focused on not only allowing the seemingly chaotic nature of India to engulf me in all of its being, but on also taking the time to distill all of that chaos into valuable lessons and beautiful moments in time. And in my reflections…
These are the things I remembered so often. This is how I define home no matter where I am in the world.
An example of the oh so typical laughter and ridiculousness that fills the Scofield house (or his dorm room)
A memory I’ll never forget: my brother running the last 8 miles of my first marathon with me. My hero that day.
Following the two week school program in India, a group of four friends decided to stay for an additional two weeks of travel. It was a difficult moment when I had to tell my mom I wouldn’t be home for Christmas for the first time in 26 years, but the opportunity was really once-in-a-lifetime. I thank my family for being so supportive and understanding. And I must share this story:
It’s Christmas morning. Jude, Slater, Michelle and I had just woken up after spending the previous day and night on an amazing houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala. We had previously decided (thanks to Slater!) to do Secret Santa to have a small holiday celebration. As we’re getting ready to open gifts, I see Jude come out of our room carrying a very nice gift bag looking all festive and adorable. Now, if you know Jude, you’re not at all surprised by this wrap job. However, we all shopped at the exact same market, and there was no way she acquired this bag there. I also knew that she was not my Secret Santa (there were only 4 of us… it’s a little hard to not figure that out) so I was taken aback when the bag was handed my direction.
As I peaked inside, I saw the dead give-away that this bag came from my mother. The tell-tale sign? A Reese’s peanut butter tree. No Christmas is complete without a Reese’s tree in the stockings at the Scofield house. I come to realize that my mom acquired Jude’s email address without my knowledge, mailed a package to her, and had Jude carry this thing around for two weeks. So many thanks to them both for orchestrating this. It meant more than I could ever truly express. And as I pulled the teddy bear out of the bag and heard my parent’s voices sending Christmas wishes from somewhere within the bear, I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Here I was… holding the most thoughtful present from my parents, waking up on a houseboat in paradise, sitting in a circle with 3 of the greatest friends I could have hoped to have.
This is how I defined home in India.
It’s incredibly difficult to put into words all that India showed me, taught me and imparted upon me. But the impacts have finally begun to sink in as I’ve returned to life as I know it. I returned to the U.S. with many physical things: souvenirs for myself, gifts for family and friends, pictures to cherish forever. But I also returned with a greater sense of self and a willingness to ensure that I’m constantly present and offering up the best version of who I am. Openness and willingness to change allowed me to embrace everyday in India and learn from the experience. And that same openness and willingness to change or be changed will continue to permeate my life at home.
During our consulting project, our primary contact, Girish, shared with us something used around their office to motivate the team. Happy. Hungry. Foolish. It means: Be happy. Be hungry for work and for challenge. Be foolish enough to make mistakes.
This simple statement spoke to me in many ways. And in closing…
I’m happy to have had this amazing experience. I was hungry for the challenges I knew India and this program would (and most certainly did) hold. And I was foolish enough to not let anything stand in my way of fully embracing this opportunity. And for all of this I’m forever grateful.