In a few days, I will be leaving Yorba Linda, California to spend 7 weeks in Kadapa, India. It still has not sunk in that all that I prepared for during spring quarter will soon become my reality. When I found out that I had been selected as a Global Fellow and would be spending my summer at Aarti Home for Girls, I was ecstatic. However, underlying my enthusiasm was nervousness and fear for what was to come. I have never been out of the country — let alone to a rural part of India — and I know that adapting to the way of life at Aarti may prove to be challenging at first. Further contributing to my apprehension, unfortunately, I do not have a partner going with me from Santa Clara. This made preparation for my time at Aarti more trying since I had to do navigate through many things on my own. I am also a bit apprehensive because I do not feel like I have a clear picture of what I will be doing while at Aarti Home. I know that I will be teaching, but after my interactions with people involved within the organization, it seems like I will not fully know my role until I am there for a few days.
As I prepare to depart, I keep reminding myself that while I may be uncomfortable at first, or run into unforeseen obstacles, this is something that I felt strongly called to do. Whenever I tell someone what I will be doing for the summer, I always receive a shocked look, followed by a comment inquiring why I would ever want to do such a thing or warning me that it will be extremely hot, I won’t like the food, and I will get sick. While I do not think these comments reflect the most informed opinions, they still highlight the concerns many people have about leaving behind one way of life and immersing themselves in a new culture. However, more than these concerns, I am excited for my journey to begin. Since my time at Santa Clara, I have grown immensely, and I believe that this experience will allow me to take all that I have learned and put it into action. I am excited to gain a deeper understanding of our increasingly global community and better understand different perspectives of life. I am looking forward to spending time with the children and learning from them as well.
I recently attended a leadership conference for my sorority and we began the week by sharing a “watch word” with the group. We referred back to this word throughout the week and it allowed us to focus on what we were hoping to take away from our experience. After thinking it over for a while, I have decided that my watch word for my time at Aarti Home is presence. I am a person who loves loves to keep moving forward and plan ahead. However, while at Aarti, I am going to work hard to simply be present, not worrying about what came before or what is to come next.
So, with 2 bags (and sadly not my dog), I’m off to India!