I’ll be home for Christmas - Sam Graff

We finished up our last few days in Chamba and it has never felt more like home then it does now, which will make tomorrow hard, hopefully not harder then the last 2 days have been. So on Sunday we went to what is called Little Swiss and the drive there just kept winding up and up and up. About a half mile before we got there, we stopped at a temple and a statue which was interesting to finally see their beliefs and religion. The statue there was so impressive and was manually made of concrete and stood probably 70 feet high (my estimations probably aren’t the most accurate though). Then we did the quick drive over to Little Swiss which was just a pretty field that they removed all of the densely populated trees from and made a nice big field to hang out on and walk around. We hung out with the YMAD girls and had lunch there as well. The next day started off with a bit of bad news that was because of a conflict and change of plans. The bad news was we would be saying our goodbyes to the YMAD girls that day, bit of a downer. Then there was a crash right in front of the hotel that we heard from the roof where a car pulled onto the street without looking and a moped ran into the side of it. The guy was ok and drove off a few minutes later after he picked up his rearview mirror, they do crashes a little bit different here. We went off to the schools after that and had a good day there, though the thought of saying goodbye to them the next day was over our heads. But to lighten our spirits we had gotten the whole school new shoes and uniform sweaters and socks and they came that day. So before lessons we made sure the shoes fit and at lunch the sweaters came. At the end of the school day we handed them all out and the kids were able to take them home to wear tomorrow, they were so excited and I realized that some of them have probably never owned a brand new item of clothing. After school at the YMAD house we just played games and talked and danced with them before we said goodbye. It was sad saying goodbye and the next day just had more of that in store for us. The next day (today(November 28(2017))) at school instead of having 3 classes before lunch and 2 after we had all 5 before lunch and so we could play with them and say goodbye for 2 hours. When we got there they had a surprise for us, they had made us these pretty flower necklaces and gave us all a hat. They said what great fun it was to have us and that they would miss us. We got on with our lesson and right before lunch they sat us all down again together and gave us this absolutely delicious dessert type thing and when we would finish our bowl they would come over and fill it back up until we had finished all they had made and we were extremely stuffed. Natalie said that this is how it is in someplaces, they just keep feeding you and you can’t be rude and refuse it. After lunch we played games and had a dance party and handed out our necklaces and bracelets we made, the hygiene kits, the schools kits and some chocolate. I have found out that in India they show gratitude by performing and dancing for you so then all of the student teachers at the school sang and danced for us and I wish I could have understood them because one act had everyone laughing and we just awkwardly sat there and smiled. But after they were finished luckily we had enough left over bracelets left over to give all of the student teachers one as well. As we went around tying all of the bracelets on them and one man, the one who did the funny act that we couldn’t understand, said something to me that exactly summed up the day and is something I will never forget. With his minimal English and thick accent, he said "I can never, forget this moment.” I don’t know why (it must have been the moment) but that hit me so hard and I loved it so much and it makes me tear up with the thought of it. Then we gave the teachers and the school all of the other things we had for them (2 tables, 4 chairs, a mirror, a replacement water tank and most of our teaching stuff) and then it was time for the goodbyes. After interacting with these kids for the last week and a half and being so close to them, saying goodbye has felt like a breakup. A peace of my heart is now gone and now a hole is there that just aches and longs for the warmth and love of these children. After many hugs and “I miss you!”s and a few quick tears they all marched off, up the hill to their homes, turning around here and there for a final wave back at us standing in the courtyard of where we had met only a quick week and a half ago. Nothing much more happened after that. Went back to the hotel where I found Wilson in the same state as me and I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only male that had shown any emotion. We cleaned up a bit and packed for tomorrow. I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. I have been preparing for this all year and now it’s over, it’s a little sad but, just like Natalie said, it feels good to know that we made a difference and an impact here, and now it’s time to come home. As my title says, we are wrapping up here and I’m coming home now, just am making a few stops here and there. And I would like to thank mom and dad now. Mom for telling me over and over, including 2 notes I got in India from her, to write in my journal the details while they are raw and to write a lot. And to dad who had been an example and a teacher in journaling for my whole life. Thanks to them I have a very good and detailed written account of my world travel this last 2 weeks that can be remembered for years to come. Much love from India to you all. Your homie, Sam.