810 hours/18,600 minutes
Spending the past 14 days (810 hours/18,600 minutes) traveling and in India has honestly caused a whirlwind of emotions and provided me with thousands of priceless memories and lessons learned. But I won’t even try to list my memories or even the lessons I learned. Instead I will try to summarize and just list my 6 favorite things about India and this experience:
- The relationship within our YMAD family- On this trip our team has bonded and become closer than I ever thought was possible. I now have 27 best friends who I probably would’ve never known without YMAD.
- The MANY things I have learned along the way- I have learned sooo many things from how to take the fastest shower ever when the water is so cold you can see your breath as you wash your hair (which is a real thing) to how to love an entire village and the people inside in less than 24 hours. I was taught so many things by my team, leaders, and especially the kids.
- Consistently being out of my comfort zone- Mom I know that one probably caught you off guard lol. But seriously, throughout this trip we’ve been forced to live outside our comfort zone. It has allowed us to connect with ourselves and with everyone we came in contact on the trip.
- The translators and RAJ!!!- First of all those translators were the most beautiful human beings I have ever met and they cared so much about us and the kids in our schools. Second RAJJJ! Ah mom and dad you are right he is the best. I swear that guy never sleeps. It was just about as hard to say goodbye to Raj as it was to say goodbye to my village kids. Good thing he promised he’d FaceTime me, I’m definitely holding him to it. What a guy.
- My village- my village (seri) high in the mountains, was the most humble and beautiful place I’ve ever known, not to mention the beautiful, most welcoming and loving people and children I’ve ever met. On our last day, the whole village came to our schools courtyard to have a celebration for us. The women dressed us in traditional dresses and sat us down to watch our 8 ten year old kids perform a simple traditional dance which we and many of the village people joined in on. They also presented us each with gifts which really is a big deal considering the condition they are living in. As we said our goodbyes, many of the people cried as they embraced us and wiped our tears. It was amazing to feel the love and gratitude from the parents of the children we had been teaching the past 5 days.
- My kids- I don't know how to talk about them without going into detail about each kid and how they loved me, each in their own way. Seeing their tears on Tuesday as they realized we would not be back on Wednesday was the most painful and sweet thing to see. I couldn’t help but let tears stream out as a older boy, Gurav asked us the question in Hindi that they would ask us everyday. (most likely incorrect spelling) “Kalongey?” which our translator told us means they are asking “is there more to come?” Usually we are able to tell them “yes tomorrow” or “yes on Monday” but that time all I could tell him was “no” and wipe his tears as they began to pour out of his eyes. As I was walking out of the school for the last time, one of the 10 year old girls Shalini who I had connected with from day one, held me and wiped my tears as she told me “I love you Emily.” after I had told her “I love you Shalini.” I will forever have all 26 kids in my heart and prayers.
Last, here's a little poem I wrote on the way home:
Drove 15 hours through the night,
after a long 16 hour flight.
Sitting on that bus in a whole new place,
there is nothing in the world that could ever replace
The feeling I got when I walked up
to 26 children who were small but tough.
They held my hand and kissed my face;
how could they be so happy in this place?
As I taught them English every day,
their faces lit up as they had more to say.
We laughed as we played and clapped our hands;
I forgot that leaving them was in the plan.
As I waked away from them one last time,
I thought about them and realized,
yes I taught them English and made them smile,
but they taught me the extra mile.
They taught me pure love and happiness everyday,
and to be completely honest I’d have to say,
we didn’t teach them as much as they taught us,
I’m so eternally glad I rode that 15 hour bus.
I love you India, Namaste.