A Journey of a Thousand Miles by Scott Melis

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We are officially half way through our amazing journey. It has been absolutely wonderful. The experiences we have shared over just the past few days will be burned in our memories and hearts forever. I am so grateful for the decisions these youth have made to join YMAD. They are the ones who have made this experience so special.

The past few days have been pretty darn eventful. As you have probably heard, we had an amazing cultural exchange on Saturday at a local high school. There were over 400 people in attendance, including the District Commissioner of Chamba. The kids showed no fear as they danced in front on the large crowd. They even were able to join in on a few of the Indian dances performed by the local students. It was an absolute blast. The welcome this school showed us was incredible. We arrived with a band playing, students lined up dressed in traditional Indian wear, a welcome sign made of flowers on the ground, and lots and lots of smiles. I was so proud of my team. Samye, Gabrielle, Belinda, Sarah W. , and Lizzie were incredible in the girls dance. They did so well many of the little children wanted their autograph after the exchange had ended. Tanner and Nick were a riot. At one point a local boy was performing a dance and asked that a few American students join him. So without hesitation our boys all went up and tried to follow along with the Indian boy. The crowd was going wild. At the end of the day we made the local news and had a large picture on the front page of the local newspaper.

Sunday was a day of gratitude. We were able to sit in a circle and express gratitude to others in the group for all they had done. It was a very special experience listening to all of the youth express their gratitude to leaders and other students. Tears were shed throughout the meeting, as well as when the meeting ended, and everyone received letters from home. I want to thank all of the parents for raising such incredible children. They have inspired me more than you will ever know. You have raised the leaders of this generation. Here are a few reasons I'm grateful for your children:


Belinda Davis: She has an incredible amount of passion for whatever she does and always helps to improve any situation.


Lizzie Egan: She is very optimistic and has been the person lifting our team up when we're tired or feeling overwhelmed.


Samye Snell: She has integrity. She always keeps her commitments and will drop whatever she is doing to help the team.


Sarah Willes: She is so kind and loving toward all of the children. She is very talented at making everyone feel excepted and loved.


Gabrielle Hicken: She is so great working with the kids. She has an amazing ability to calm them down and to help them really understand the concepts she is teaching.


Tanner Olsen: He has an incredible ability to make friends. He makes everyone in the group feel like we've known him for years and years.


Nick Storey: He is excellent at expressing his gratitude towards others. He makes everyone in the group feel special and wanted.


Today is one of our last days teaching in the schools. It is bittersweet. We will have today and tomorrow to teach in our schools and on Wednesday we will return to do service projects in the different facilities. Thursday we will leave this special village of Chamba and began our touring. I am so grateful for this wonderful experience and will never forget the difference these youth have made in the lives of the children. I love and thank my wife Alexandra and family for supporting me in this endeavor.


- Scott Melis