My Home Away From Home - Maggie LaStayo

IMG_0392 Well, here I am back in India for the third time and loving life just as much as I remembered.  The traveling was long, hard, but beyond well worth it.  The second we stepped off the plane and into the humidity that knocks the breath straight out of you, I knew I was back where I belonged.

As always, each trip is filled with completely different circumstances and experiences.  I never could have expected the things that have come already on this trip.  We just had our last day at the IRA Private School teaching a little more than sixty incredible kids.  They were so filled with energy and had so much desire to learn. Each morning they welcomed us with their adorable claps and “Good morning ma’am” and we would jump straight into workshops.  The oldest kids were beyond any expectations I had for anyone’s English here.  They would help us translate to the younger kids and had the capability to go beyond any lesson we had planned for them.  Even the four year olds knew more than basic vocabulary on the flash cards we brought.  The teachers were so welcoming and even joined in to learn the Macarena!  Goodbyes were sad and a tad bit awkward as always, but one things left me knowing that YMAD is always remembered, an expedition from almost two years ago had left them a picture and notes from their week with those kids, and it was front and center, framed, in their classroom for everyone to see.  Everyone who comes through here makes a difference, and I know we gave them an incredible three days.

Of course, nothing for me will beat my time with the Temple Ashram girls.  Unfortunately I only got two days with them, but the time was amazing.  Immediately I ran directly to Saroj, and it was like I had never left before.  She has grown SO much, I felt like a proud mother watching my child grow up.  But that attitude hasn’t changed in the slightest.  It took her a few minutes to warm up to me and remember everything we had learned about each other but by the second rotation of workshops she was pinching me, rolling her eyes, and refusing to do anything I told her.  And I LOVED it.  Her English has improved, and her willingness has made her a little braver to venture out and even write a sentence longer than “My favorite color is purple”.  My favorite moment with her had to be when we were doing body parts and I traced her body and had her label everything. I told her to write her name on the outside so she wouldn’t lose it and after she did, she proceeded to draw a heart and have me write my name. I then placed it in the corner and watched her sneak over with a marker.  She then wrote a simple “best friends” next to our name.  The simplest things go the longest way, and that girl really is my best friend.  And I know that we will be for plenty of time to come.  She makes me happier than anything else in the world, and I really wish I could spend the rest of my week with her.  But seeing all of the improvements she’s made, and how healthy and happy she looks, I know that it is time for us to give our help where it is more needed,  but they will forever be our favorite little orphans.  (All of the girls were so happy and cute, and their English has improved in extreme amounts, I’ll make sure you all get to hear every single detail when I get home, so don’t worry about that… J).

Lastly, I’m sure plenty have posted about the soccer game but I just have to say… the most AMAZING thing I have EVER done in my ENTIRE life.  Thousands of Indians watching me look like an idiot, and I loved every moment of it.  Front page of the paper by the way, really not a huge deal or anything… We’re all pretty proud.  Nothing can ever compare to that situation, and it made our Highland vs. East soccer games look like the lamest thing in all of history.

India truly is my home away from home, but I do miss all of my loved ones.  American food is all I want. That’s all, see you in 12 days!