It is the emotion behind a smile that I share with Hetal, the nine-year-old girl studying at the Gandhi Ashram School whom I met a few days ago. It is the ability to open my heart that I share with Mukesh Bhai during meditation. It is the mutual trust the Gramshree women embody during their daily life that I share with my fellow Niswarth peers. Slowly, by noticing commonalities as opposed to discords between me and citizens of Gujrat, my mind is clearing and growing, not as a 16-year-old Indian American Andover student, but as a person.
Love All, Serve All. Build Bridges, not barriers. The Good of one is contained in the Good of all. Unity is Strength. Niswarth. Humility. Over the course of the trip, I’ve been scribbling down many of these quotes and phrases, painted and hung around the walls of many of the places we’ve visited. As the days pass, I’ve begun to understand each of them increasingly well, as they all refer to the oneness of the human race. I may be substantially wealthier than Bobby, a fourteen-year-old boy at Manav Sadhna, but just as he laughs at my attempts to speak in Hindi, I smile at his attempts to converse in English. We are both children, both happy, both the same in so many ways. I too worry, just as the principle of the Gandhi Ashram School does, about the safety and supervision of her students. Like Mukesh Bhai said, our inner feelings and emotions connect us to each other, no matter how unique our outer circumstances may be. Our differences define what kind of people we are, but our similarities define us all as people.
My recent realization, that we universally share humanity within us, has sharpened my awareness and hopefully my appreciation for everyone I’ll ever meet in the future. Like Ms. Tousignant said a few days ago, “Knowing what you believe is what gives you peace and clarity.” I understand now that if what you believe in is peace and clarity, Ms. Tous’s statement will ring truer than ever before.
It couldn’t be more obvious that the only reason I can feel so connected to the people I’ve met on this trip is due to our inherent similarities and faith in relationships. We are all brothers, sisters, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, and friends and we will continue to be until the end of our lifetimes.