Hayley Wetterhus

Hayley picture I keep thinking each day I’m here is the best day yet but today really could have been the BEST day yet! We’ve been teaching the mountain girls and they are just adorable. They’re at such a low level, yet they want to soak up every word, phrase and syllable we teach them. Today, Julia, Nick and I were able to teach four specific girls who are at the lowest level, simply going over the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes individually and within words. It’s a fairly tedious task, but watching the girls start to understand and put all the pieces together and when we say “puh puh” and ask them to point to the letter and Narlo points to “P” and we all just go ballistic, it’s honestly the best thing that’s happened since I’ve been here! We were singing the ABC’s to them and we stopped after about three times and Julia and I look at each other like we’re about to move on to something else but the girls just started to sing on their own for a fourth time! I just sat there smiling, almost crying, so blissful because someone could be so desiring to keep learning. I had this feeling that was like “yeah, this is why I’m supposed to be here. These girls need me and I’m making a difference to them.”

It’s so true that people in more advanced countries- especially the United States- take our public schools and opportunities to learn for granted every day. Not only the fact that we have the chance to go to school, but the facilities we’re in are so wonderful with air conditioning and heat and desks and actual floors plus we have the internet! I had no idea there were kids still going to school and couldn’t look up homework answers on google- or any answers to the universe for that matter! But these girls are. And they sacrifice so much just to be here, in Chamba, with other kids who are only a few years older than them (if that) who don’t have college degrees in Elementary Education or Art or Music, on our concrete floors, in our hot hot hot rooms, listening anyway and trying so hard to understand even an inkling of what we’re saying. These girls- every single one of them- are my heroes.

It’s so surreal to realize we’ll be leaving Chamba in just two days. I don’t know how I’m going to say goodbye to these beautiful souls. One thing that makes it easier though is something Rachel said earlier today- our team is the first expedition to teach as many days as we have. 11 days. ELEVEN. That’s amazing! And I’m so happy to focus on that rather than focusing on how many days we have left. To know I’ve taken 11 days out of my life to be here, to help whoever I can help, to enter people’s lives and teach them and in turn learn so many new things. My heart is bursting and I can’t even explain how much more excitement I have to be here for the next couple days. My life is so stinking cool and I’m so happy to be sharing this experience with my amazing team. These people are honestly some of the best people I know and being around them just makes my life better. Not just my YMAD team but the girls too. Everything about here just makes me want to be better and I’m so happy to have had this opportunity to be in a place so far from home, so different from anything else I’ve ever had to handle and yet so beautiful and life-altering. Can’t wait for more adventures to come!