Let’s get this naan: By Nell Stevens

Let’s get this naan

I remember hearing that people said that India loses its magic your second time back, and they were right.

Hahaha I am fully joking, I keep on repeating how much happy I am to be back and wondering why I didn’t notice and appreciate so many little things about it my first time here. I don’t remember so many houses being so brightly painted or so many women walking with such large packages on their head or so many trucks being so colorfully painted or so many cows mooing so loudly. The kids are just as loving and kind as I remember them being, though. Seeing the ymad girls yesterday made me absolutely giddy. Cute Pooja remembered me from 2014 which was the happiest surprise. And tears filled my eyes as soon as I saw the cute faces of the kids at our school as we pulled up this morning, too.

Everything feels even more magic than I remembered it being and the people I am sharing it with have added so much excitement to my return! Our group has kept me laughing so hard through our forever long travel and my village team (the green team) rocked it on our first day at the schools today.

 Emmy keeps us all smiling and adds so much humor to every experience (even when she is exhausted). She was so calming and caring to the kids today. Every time I looked at Wyatt he was being so observant and listening so carefully to the kids. He asked them lots of questions to get to know them better and he is already forming such strong connections. Ava is never not calling her babies “sweetheart” and giving them hugs. It is so fun to watch her take care of them. She is also never not giving me hugs which you all know is my favorite thing. Braden was our group activity leader today, he kept everyone in check which is fitting, considering he has been the leader of our group for the entirety of our trip and preparation so far. He is the first person everyone looks to when they are confused or have issues or questions, and he never disappoints. Olivia is the life of the party not, only for our group but also at our school. She has so much energy and her excitement is contagious. The kids adore her already. And lastly, Katherine (Andrew) keeps our whole group grounded with her quiet confidence. She was so prepared with her lessons and knew exactly what she was doing when we arrived at our schools which was so comforting as a leader. 

There are more unforgettable moments from the trip than I have time to write about, but a few of them include: walking in on a man peeing on the airplane, watching people worship at the golden temple, putting my finger in a sleeping man’s mouth on the airplane, playing the alphabet game with the green team on our drive from Amritsar, pulling up to our school and seeing our cute kids waiting outside, the YMAD girls giving us bindis and marigold necklaces, the drive to the school today, talking with our cute translator at the school, and playing with the cute kids at the tailor’s house tonight.

To the parents of operation azadi and most especially the green team- thank you for trusting me with your incredible kids. To my parents- love and miss you, and to everyone else- let’s get this naan.