I’m currently sitting on the airplane traveling from Singapore to San Francisco looking out the window at little islands and clouds. This long flight will give me some time to reflect on the last couple days and decompress from everything I’ve seen and done. Our last day with the kids in Jibhi School was bittersweet if describable at all. My team and I played games on the nearby basketball court with all the kids in the morning. They were hyper as usual but seemed to sense that this would be the last round of “duck duck” or “hanky panky” (Down by the Banks) they would play with us. I carried Kilha on my back as we walked up the hill past the middle school, a game of cricket, and a little temple that had become the norm for us to see everyday. Next we distributed the education and safety kits to each kid and they seemed overwhelmed with all of their gifts. We weren’t expecting any gifts but I was overcome with emotion when the kids lined up in a row, each holding a small fistful of local flowers. We passed each child in the line and gave them hugs, kisses, and high fives for the last time as they handed us each flowers, creating a beautiful boquet by the end of the line.
This was the first goodbye that I did not express with words. Instead, I used communication through feelings and body language. One of the last lessons we learned before leaving was about the Hindu belief that the most superficial form of prayer is verbal while the highest form is through emotion without words. The connection I felt with these children is best described as an exchange of unconditional love. This feeling makes the endless hours of traveling by plane, bus, and jeep completely worthwhile.
I look forward to sharing my memories with all of you and being home soon!