It's a Strange Place & I am so Happy! - Rachael Rasmussen
It’s the strangest thing. Because here I am, as far away from home as I ever could be, in living conditions much more meager than I’m used to, having no contact with friends or family at home. All this, and I have never been so happy. Many of my friends influenced, inspired, and supported my involvement with YMAD, and I had heard hundreds of stories and experiences of India. As I prepared for the trip I subconsciously created expectations of India in my mind based on all that I heard. Yet despite all of that, everything I have seen and done has been nothing like I expected. After over twenty-four hours of air travel and running from one terminal to the next, I arrived in Sunder Nagar, or Beautiful City. And it is beautiful in the most diverse, mysterious, and peaceful way.
The night before I left, I was given two simple and helpful pieces of advice, each from two of my closest friends, both whom traveled to India with YMAD. I was told to 1) love the kids I taught and 2) to lose myself in the service. As service equates with love, these pieces of wisdom fit well together and have been a personal mindset for me on the trip:
I have lost myself in loving the children. When I am with my kids my mind is nowhere but with them. Every tiny hand that holds mine, every smile that meets my eyes, and every little laugh that reaches my ears is the best thing that ever happened to me. I don’t have the energy, or even a thought to worry myself with the trivial burdens I dramatize back home.
I am so grateful I have been given the opportunity to teach the children, and I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me. I’ve learned that my happiness is never something I can gain through material; my happiness is an ability and a choice. My kids have nothing compared to all I have at home, yet the smallest things put a smile on their face. I know that the gratitude, hope and love that they faithfully exercise is the reason for their happiness, and I want to live in this way of peace as they do.
I love all those who have motivated and supported me, because this has been the best experience of my life, and I am so thankful that I am here!