I Am Pine

Helloooooo family and friends and strangers! Hi Mom I’m alive, Lisa put me as the last person to blog because she knew you could handle it (somewhat). Anyway, well.. I am finally here in India, now a week into a trip that I’ve been looking forward to since junior high. CRAZY! It is so beautiful here and I love almost everything I look at (other than the spiders, giant flies that never leave you alone, and the drunk Indian men running around near our camp hah). I love how much color is in this culture, every building is painted in bright pinks, blues, and yellows and every single outfit is colorful and unique. Jibhi is GORGEOUS! Everyone isn’t joking when they say Utah mountains look like hills compared to the mountains here AND everything is seriously covered in green terraces and trees and just so much green with little colorful villages here and there.

My village, Seri, is a 20 minute drive up a steep road carved out of the side of the mountain. The school has a little tiny one room building used as a classroom to hold 26 kids, and also a separate building used as the kitchen and lunchroom as well as a large courtyard where we play with the kids. Ahh man those kids know how to make me catch the feels let me tell ya. Everyday I ask them “How are you?” and they all shout back “I’m pine!” (I’m fine) because I drilled that phrase into their heads as part of one of my lessons, but it makes me tear up every time because they are always just so proud and excited that they can communicate with me in that small way. I can’t even describe the feeling I get when 10 kids run up to me grabbing my hands and pulling me to the court yard and telling me “Emily Emily Emily ride ride ride my pony!!” (When they want to play the game ride my pony) or “Height!” (when they want me to hold my hands up high so they can jump and try to give me a high, high-five) They are so so smart!! The older kids can read full books all by themselves even though they don’t really have any idea what they are reading. I’m so grateful for how loving and accepting they are because it has taught me that you can love and accept anyone and everyone no matter what. Their love is amazing!!!

I came into this trip with crazy high and specific expectations that definitely came from the imagination of a white girl from America. After seeing both my brothers, my parents, and many friends go to India, I thought I understood the feelings they felt even with out going. The return celebration talks and videos made me cry such happy tears every time and I guess I just thought somehow that meant I understood the happiness they felt BUT I now realize I have had absolutely no idea of how they felt until this week. Everyone says the people of India are the happiest people they’ve ever met, but I have noticed that they are so happy even without the common comforts that I have in America, which is something many people didn’t point out. So here I am trying to figure out how to be as happy as them, living without so many comforts: No straightener, washing machine, or comfy mattress; Going to sleep late and exhausted and having to wake up bright and early, still not quite rested; and having food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that smells and tastes the exact same. But at the same time I am also here with little kids who are the most loving and giving and thankful kids on this planet, and a group of people who have entirely changed my life and given me perspectives and taught me more than I ever thought possible. I have learned things and experienced things that I could NEVER learn in Salt Lake City Utah. Who knew that a group of teenagers who I had never met before and a small village school of 26 children high in the himalayan mountains could have such an amazing impact on my life. I’m grateful for the people on our YMAD team and on my village team. I’m grateful for every experience I’ve had so far, even the not so good ones like the lights turning off mid-shower. And I’m so so so grateful for the people of India who have taught me that happiness is not necessarily comfort, but being completely content with your life, focusing on everything you have and not what you want or even need. Thank you Mom, Dad, Jeff, Ryan, and Sarah for supporting me and always loving me for who I am. Thank you extended family, friends, and others for making this life changing experience possible. I love you all.