Letting Go of Expectations.... - Chris Sorensen
When Marce and I made the decision to lead a YMAD expedition to India from Colorado, we had a vision in mind for what the expedition should look like. Marce had been on two previous expeditions and I had just returned from working as a Village Leader in the spring of 2016. With that said, it didn’t take long for us to realize the vision we had for the Colorado expedition may not be exactly what the expedition would ultimately become. At one point in the planning process, a very wise friend of ours, who just happened to be one of the founders or YMAD, called to see how things were going. As Marce was explaining some of our challenges in putting the expedition together, this friend simple told her to “let go of expectations” and the expedition will be what it is meant to be.
That was a turning point for us! We stopped trying to make this expedition look like the other expeditions we had been involved with and simply let it evolve. Throughout our preparations, we knew we had a very solid group of leaders and teens. What we lacked in numbers we made up for with determination and planning. As our departure date drew near, we wondered if we had done everything possible to prepare the teens to be successful and truly make a difference here in India. Ultimately, we knew ready or not, we were on our way.
The travel to Kullu was brutal. We spent close to fifty hours traveling by the time we reached our hotel late Monday evening. Despite being exhausted from the travel, there was no time to rest. We were starting in the schools Tuesday morning and the teens had to pull together all of their supplies and lesson plans for day one before they could go to bed Monday night.
After a quick bite of breakfast, we loaded in the bus and were on our way up the windy mountain road to the schools. The teens and their Village Leader unloaded at their designated drop point and walked to their schools. Each of the village teams were greeted with a brief welcome ceremony before dividing up the kids in their schools by age and separating into their designated teaching areas, either a poorly lit and hot classroom or a patch of ground in the courtyard of the school
This is the moment of truth! The moment when the teens face their first class full of rambunctious, energetic, and loving Indian children. Have we prepared the teens adequately? Have they practiced enough and do they understand the lessons well enough to adapt to the variety of teaching situations they will face? Are we going to be able to make a difference in the lives of these kids?
As day one came to a close and the teens loaded back into the bus for the ride down the mountain, I sat back and listened as they shared stories from their first day in the schools. The bus was filled with laughter and excitement as the teens talked about their schools, the children, and the villages where they had spent their day. In that moment, I realized this team and expedition was exactly what it was meant to be!
We are few in numbers by comparison to other YMAD teams, but there is a bond between these kids that would not have been possible with a larger expedition. We are diverse with athletes, honor students, band members, social butterflies, and thoughtful observes. Because of our size and diversity, the teens complement each other’s abilities and have come together with the common purpose of making a difference for the children of India.
Marce and I love these teens and are so proud of what this team has become. They have exceeded our expectations on so many levels and we have grown from the opportunity to work with them. Thank you to all of you for the trust you have placed in us to bring them along on this journey. You have raised outstanding young people who will do great things with their lives.
It is hard to believe we are only a few short days from the end of this expedition. And while everyone is excited to see loved ones again, it will be hard to leave the beautiful chaos that is India.