P1130052 I’ve experienced real joy here in India.  Back home in America (don’t get me wrong, I love it back home) so much of our time is occupied by our immersion in technology and work.  Here in India, I’ve dropped all my technology.  I haven’t had my phone in my pocket for the last seven days.  At first, it was a weird feeling; every time I wanted to send a picture of the guys’ room or look up the size of the airplane we were on I wasn’t able to do that.  I was stuck in the moment.

Here in India, we are living in the moment.  We have dropped our phones, keys, and wallets.  We have dropped worries about missing schoolwork or which colleges accepted us.  I feel safe speaking on behalf of all of our YMAD team, saying that we have dropped our old lives and adopted new ones, helping the schoolchildren of India.  I have really enjoyed teaching the children; I am amazed at their ability to recall information after a single lesson.  For example, the other day when I taught directions (up, down, right, left, etc.) they would all sit up and sit down after the lesson was over.  The next day when I taught shapes, and all the children had learned what a circle was, I would say, “Circle!”  and they would all group up in a circular formation, sitting around me, which is the style in which we teach.

I’m now beginning to see what other people have experienced here on these expeditions.  I love to see the kids light up when I teach them.  I love to see how eager they are to learn, and I love seeing that the kids really love us, despite the fact that they don’t know us by any previous experience. There are some kids who are real stinkers, and there are others who really want to learn.  I have met a couple kids who I really relate to, and I’m going to have a hard time parting from them.  I just want the kids to know that they have such massive potential, and that with further education they could be so successful; I just hope that through successive YMAD groups coming these kids can keep learning and growing, because they’re so smart.

One kid I really like is named Raman.  He’s ten years old, and I connect to him because he has a huge desire to learn, just as I did at that age.  One day when I conducted an blindfolded obstacle course with the kids as part of our directions lesson, I made him wait his turn at the back of the line as all the other kids went.  As I told him to wait his turn he looked at me with a very smart, all-knowing, studly look and pointed his finger at me and said, “Yeahhh” in a very cool voice.  School ended and he still hadn’t taken his turn, so I pulled him aside and made up an blindfolded obstacle course just for him, telling him to go forward, backward, left, right, under, (and so on) until he reached the end.  He was so excited and I was so happy for him.

This expedition has been amazing.  Though there has been a lot of hard work involved in getting this whole thing ready, and the real payoff has come through seeing that these kids are actually learning from what we’re teaching them.  By no means could I have taught the 57 kids at Sahoo School alone.  My team (Brooke Lange - our adult leader, Sarah Sloan, Angela Hales, Kristen Shimkus, Lauren Bailey, Sandon Sperry, and Dylan Gilette) have all been so good at teaching too, and they’ve inspired me to teach even better.  I feel honored to be a part of such a committed group of people, and I know we are making a significant difference here in India.  More importantly, I’ve learned that joy comes not from looking for a future joy or dwelling on the memories of the past, but living in the moment, and I’m confident I’m soaking up all the joy there is, right here in India.