Monday, June 6, 2011

The Feeling of India

I’ve been home from India for about a month now and have put off writing this final reflection simply because I’m not sure what to say. While we were in India, we knew that no story or picture or video could capture what we were experiencing, and now that I’m home, I find myself running into the same problem again and again when people ask me about my trip. As India was so different than any other place I’ve been, I don’t even feel like I have the right words in my vocabulary to describe it. No verbal picture I attempt to paint could even begin to do our experience, the country, the people, or the culture justice.

So, without trying to capture my first taste of India in a few paragraphs, there are a couple of closing thoughts I can offer. Before we went on the trip, we were told that many people don’t enjoy their first trip to India. Rather, it takes most people multiple trips to get passed the point of feeling overwhelmed so that they can begin to enjoy and even fall in love with the culture. Well, for most of us, this was our first trip to India. And every single one of us loved it there. We certainly hit our share of literal and non-literal bumps in the road, faced some very long days, and had to navigate many things outside our comfort zone. But through it all we remained open, flexible, and grateful to be there, and as a result, we had an amazing time. I think Kelley and this course gave us that gift, the gift of being able to not only appreciate but embrace a culture so very different from our own. While nothing could completely prepare us for the experience, the 6 weeks of coursework leading up to the trip gave us the self-awareness and desire to take in all that India had to offer. And the opportunity to explore the country while learning from India faculty and visiting local companies certainly gave us a perspective that many tourists don’t ever get.

In closing, I’ll share our “theme” from the week, a thought that was first put into words by Eric Richards during a dinner with our Indian faculty. You can’t describe India, you can’t fully understand India. You have to feel India. And so while I want desperately to share everything I saw and did while I was on the other side of the world, here is where I’ll stop myself. There is a beauty to the land and architecture, a kindness in the people, and a feeling of connectedness in the air that just has to be experienced first-hand.

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