Final reflections from India

India 12We recently arrived back in Delhi for our final stay in India!! For the past week we’ve been in Mussoorie, once again surrounded by the beautiful Himalayas. While we were there we stayed at Woodstock, an international boarding school. It was a very peaceful and relaxing place. During our stay we did some hiking, played card games, and worked on our final papers. We left Mussoorie at night and had an absolutely unbelievable view of the city lights.

Now that we’re down to only a few days left in India, it’s hard to know how to feel. One minute I’m excited to go back to see friends and family, and to eat some American food, and the next I don’t want to leave and am trying to soak up every last bit of India that I can.

This has been an eye-opening experience and has allowed me to learn more about myself. I’ve gotten used to living a more simple way of life, and have realized that I take a lot of things for granted. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, whether that’s sleeping on the floor of a house instead of on the street, or eating foods I hate, instead of going hungry. Overall, this trip has been a fulfilling experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. India is a country that has so much to offer and it will be greatly missed.

-Laura Stoltzfus

Mussoorie Sunset When I return home in the next few days, I will use pictures and tell stories attempting to describe how I experienced India. I will be able to sit for hours talking about the last three months to anyone that will listen. But none of this will be able to accurately depict the pictures burned into my memory: joy and despair, achievement and failure, old and new. I have been overwhelmed with emotion on this journey; let me explain how.

On our sightseeing adventures, many scenes have evoked strong responses. I grieved watching children beg in a train station. I felt arrogant walking out of fancy showrooms. I felt guilty swimming in a pool in the middle of a desert in Rajasthan with the potential of a drought in the next two years. I wept viewing women sort through trash for any precious leftovers from frivolous tourists. I complained about a hair in my paneer, tossing it aside, wasting a perfectly good meal while a hungry family sits outside. I was confused staring at the Akshardham temple constructed for Neelakaat, a religious figure, built 5 years ago, which cost an unimaginable amount of money. Perhaps that money could have been spent in a better way. These are a few of the emotions and images that stirred my thoughts throughout the trip.

Today, while walking the busy market streets of New Delhi, a beggar girl approached our group of guys, a typical occurrence. I was feeling generous, so I walked over to a nearby street stand and asked what 10 rupees could buy (my generosity extended to only 20 cents). He pointed to a strawberry ice pop which seemed like a nice treat on a 90 degree day. Then, I walked back to the group and handed the ice pop to her. As she walked away, she turned and smiled the brightest grin I have seen. That smile warmed my heart. One ice pop is not going to change the state of 800 million people living on two dollars a day, but that smile will remain in my memory forever. Thank you India for taking me on this crazy ride.

-Michael Harnish