I'm On top of the World - Kase Sofele
I can honestly say I am on the trip of a lifetime. This morning I went on a hike up the Himalayas with my YMAD team and Robert Baird as our trail guide (he pretended like he knew where he was taking us but, it was all one spontaneous adventure). The hike up was rocky, muddy and the big problem was choosing which trail would most likely take us to where we needed to go. At numerous times we had to stop and wait for other team members to catch up (mostly me) and we also had to make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind. If you slipped and fell, you can always count on looking up to find a hand there to help you up. The more we hiked the more I thought to myself, “We are never going to get to the end!” However, sure enough we go to the peak of the mountain and the view was breathtaking. All of our struggles to get up the mountain were instantly forgotten and we were all overcome with a feeling of accomplishment and peace. Not many people can say this but, I can now say I’ve successfully hiked the Himalayan Mountains (tell Ma I made it!). The great thing about hiking up is you’re physically and mentally prepared for the hike down. We knew where the rough terrain was, so we made sure we avoided it by taking the easier way around. Yes, the hike was hard. I ended up with cuts and scratches but in the end if I could do it all over again, I would.
I compared this hike to my crazy adventure as a YMAD team member. At the beginning, everyone knows that their end goal is to make it to India to teach English and improve the conditions of the schools, however, no one has a clear vision of how they’re going to get there. The great thing about YMAD is that we have all of our friends and leaders surrounding us making sure NO ONE gets left behind. At times I knew I fell short whether it was with fundraising or getting prepared to teach a lesson. Quitting always sounded like the easy way out. However, whenever I fell upon short comings, I had a friend standing next to me ready to lift me up and push me to keep going. It’s crazy to think that A YEAR AGO was when I first joined YMAD. Thinking about ever getting to India seemed a decade away but guess what?! I’M HERE and I’m loving every second of it!
I can’t even begin to explain how much I love the kids at my school. The first day they were slightly shy but now that they’ve warmed up to us, I can’t control them at times. Whenever we show them the new craft we’re going to do for our workshop, their faces light up with excitement. Zach Tucker and I taught Sports and Hobbies one day and I have never been more exhausted in my life. We played hot potato, jump rope, parachute, soccer and basketball. However, I can definitely say it was all worth it because they’re used to just sitting in class all day and going over the same lesson. I will also never forget the time we played Mingle as a big group. Once I shouted out the number, they all frantically ran to find their group and I loved how all of them would try to squeeze into a group with either Zach, Abel, McKaylee Rachel and I. For example, I’d
shout five and eventually a group would reach up to ten kids. Not only have the kids been great but so have the teachers at the school. They are the kindest human beings ever and they’re so willing to just let us come in and take over. Once our team started painting the two rooms, (that was our service for the school) the teacher walked in with the BIGGEST smile on her face. I can’t wait until the children see it. Also, I’ve grown to trust the taxi drivers with my life. I have felt many close-to-death experiences while driving on the edge of the mountain but we’ve managed to come home in one piece every night. An average driver here can probably dominate in an U.S street race against the best American street racers.
Not only do I have the opportunity to teach at a public school, but I also get to teach at the Deaf and Blind School. Our team got assigned to teach the blind only and it’s amazing what Kris (our leader) has been able to do with adapting each workshop so it’s easier to teach to the blind. At first I was nervous because just teaching any Indian child English would be hard but now we have to teach a blind Indian child. However, it has been working out perfectly. My favorite thing about the blind school is that there are only four students to teach so we’ve all gotten to engage with ever single one of them. It’s crazy seeing how capable each of them are and also how quickly they catch onto things.
Life’s a climb but, the view is great!