Collapsing Through the Finish - Jeff Lunt
I was supposed to be blogging last (Saturday) night but I am about 12 hours late because last night I passed out as soon as we were finished packing our gifts for the final day of teaching. It's incomprehensible for me that tomorrow will be the last day for these amazing teens to teach these brilliant Indian children. It breaks my heart to know that just 18 hours from now Team Shatimann's teens will be saying the some of the hardest goodbyes they will ever have to say. They have LOVED these children. I know first hand what this trip is like as a teen because I was a member of Team Shakti in 2012 and went to West Bengal. When I had the opportunity to go I regrettably did not sprint through the finish. It has haunted me ever since. I gave what I feel was a good effort but it wasn't quite everything I had in the tank. These teens on the other hand...they are running the race until they don't have anything left. We have had teens falling asleep on the dinner table, going to bed in their clothes, and even a couple falling asleep in the car despite what you have certainly heard about the car rides here. This is only because these teens, who I have grown to love beyond what words can explain, have been going 110% every minute of every lesson.
When I found out I would be coming back to India with this group I was so excited to see the kids again, feel their love, and experience the teaching experience again even if it was just as a teaching support to the teens that wanted some help throughout the day. Little did I know that although the Indian children would steal my heart, these teens would be the ones who I would truly fall in love with. I have cried alongside these teens who are mature beyond their years as we gave a bag of food to a girl who lives alone with a disabled mother who cannot provide any sort of parental support. I have smiled and laughed alongside these teens as we have played countless games of jellyfish, iggle wiggle, down by the banks, and bear hunt. I have danced and sang with your teens in our cultural exchange which was an emotional day that I will never forget. I would die for these teens and in fact I jumped in between train doors to make sure Marcus didn't get left at the train station in India. They have taken the money that they fund raised for the past 9 months or a year and put in an effort here that would make anyone who donated proud. They have worked in a way that would put any normal teen in the hospital and they are collapsing through the finish. I am so grateful for the people who donated to make it possible for these teens to go. You don't get nearly enough credit for how much you do to change these teens lives. They have changed every life they have touched here in India. Entire villages have showed up to the schools to just see these crazy, goofy, brilliant American teenagers who are inspiring hope here in India. I am so blessed to be around these teens who have represented their families, community, and country in an amazing way. Thank you to the parents for entrusting your children to my wonderful parents and Raj (who never gets enough thanks) and letting me watching them grow in ways you can't begin to understand.