Lauren Bowie - ....and they fly them high!

After four days of in Chamba, today was the first day the teens were not in the villages and schools. Instead, we spent our day admiring a cultural exchange with a local school and enjoying the sights and sounds of the Chamba market. In the markets we found a new side of this beautiful village filled with rich culture special only to Chamba. Signature items such of hand woven scarves and shawls and wool vests and hats were all must-buys.

35 Americans walking through the market created a buzz among the local village people that only added to the daily buzz of motorcycle and car traffic that we are all still getting used to. But the buzz in town was nothing compared to the buzz of our teens who have embraced this new place and fallen in love with the people and cultures of Chamba. Hearing the teens talk about their admiration for India and the love they have for the children they have spent the last 4 days with, made me realize that our teens are ready to graduate from their YMAD program and go on to make a difference in the world for the rest of their lives.  Today I watched each of our teens and with little effort or force, I saw that they are YMAD! They are INTEGRITY, VISION, INSPIRATION, COURAGE, FORGIVENESS, GRATITUDE and COMPASSION.  These values are our teens' pride. These values are how they identify themselves.  These are their flags and they fly them high!

Thinking back over the last few days I was able to remember a moment where each of the teens demonstrated such strength  in the YMAD values but I also was able to see that we have a complete team.  I lead seven teens each day and see that each one has a value that truly defines who they are.

INTEGRITY - Jesse is bold and brings such honor to our group and to his word.  He is the one we each go to when we struggle to find the right path. He is the one who provides strength to our group because his heart and mind are always in the right place.

VISION -Ethan is insightful and quick to describe or discuss where the next step will go. He presses himself and our group to always look to the next day and plan to make it better than the day before.

INSPIRATION - Madeline W. wakes each day with a commitment to love and laugh! She demonstrates so much spirit and friendliness with our new little village that the rest of us can't help but be inspired by her love to live.

COURAGE - James. Need I say more? He fears little. He will try anything. He will go anywhere.  He walks with so much confidence that it bubbles over onto each of us and makes us that much stronger.

FORGIVENESS - Sierra makes forgiveness look so easy. She has learned the importance of choosing forgiveness at any given moment and because of that she is filled with freedom, joy, peace and satisfaction in life.

GRATITUDE - McKenna demonstrates gratitude in all that she does. She is grateful for what she has and never takes life or love for granted. She offers her gratitude to all that deserve it and is never shy to express her thanks.

COMPASSION - Amy lives and loves in a way that I've never seen. She sees sadness or suffering and heads it straight on with little hesitation and with no fear. She demonstrates a caring demeanor with all in her path and is never weak when the going get tough.

I said this a few days ago and I'll say it again. These teens are amazing!!! I hope each of you are proud of your teens. I love them dearly and am so lucky to be here with them watching them grow and making the world better with each sunrise.