Team Blue might just move to Shaneri by Becca Brienholt

India is… indescribable.  Sorry.  End of post.

I am seriously struggling to find adequate words!  The fist time I visited this country as a tourist, I wished I were a filmmaker because I wanted to find a way to capture the incredible colors and sounds.  This time, my wish has been for a better vocabulary.

I was not prepared for how stunning this part of the Himalayas is.  The main town of Rampur sits on the river in the ravine laying between these enormous mountains that would dwarf the Wasatch Front. And the ancient villages we teach in are tucked into one of the mountainsides accessed by trails breaking off from the windy and crazy road that zigzags up the slope.

I am lucky enough to have the blessing of being the leader of the AMAZING blue team, which consists of Tanner, Riley, Ellie, Katelyn, Sarah and our longsuffering and wise translator, Kavita.  These kids have absolutely blown me away.  They are united, hardworking, dedicated, tons of fun and, above all, brimming with love for the kids they teach.  Each person on our team brings unique talents and strengths to the group.  And each has found their teaching groove and their own way to connect with the adorable kid s at our school.

Ellie has been our team guru.  Not only does she have the experience as a YMAD second timer, but she also has a natural ability with and love for these kids. She is kind and thoughtful and perceptive and an important leader with our team and with the kids at our school. They love her to death!  And so do we.

Sarah has serious conversational skills and these skills have served us well as a team whether we’re having deep conversations, working together or having fun.  But what has been awesome to watch is that these skills aren’t limited to English-- they cross over the language barrier with our precious kids as well.  They love her games and songs and hang on every word… and every limb.

Katelyn’s calm, even, positive presence lifts us all. She gets along well with everyone and and is a bonding force for our team.  She has the same effect on all of the Indian kids as well.  She puts them at ease and they absolutely adore her.  Her problem is not having enough hands for them all to hold at once.

Riley has been transformed by these kids and has some serious fans in India.   The older boys at our school love nothing more than playing soccer with him and one of the youngest girls, Palak, is happiest in his arms at all times—even while he’s playing soccer with the older boys.  Riley also looks after our team. He’s the first to grab our big, heavy education bag that we carry to the school each day and thinks about ways to serve the kids.

Tanner has ended up being the lady’s man of our team and all of the older girls at our school are smitten.  One of them, a bright adorable girl named Antora, has fallen particularly hard and follows him around like a lovesick puppy.  They other kids tease her, but she won’t be shamed and follows her heart. We’re not sure how she’ll be able to say goodbye to him tomorrow.

In fact, we’re not sure how any of us are going to be able to part with these kids. They are remarkably open and smart and joyful and they have stolen our hearts. It has been an honor to me to be able to witness a portion of their humble and beautiful lives in the remote Himalayan village Shaneri.  And it has been a privilege to witness the hearts of these awesome YMAD teens expand and their souls enriched through the bonds we have forged with these beautiful mountain people.