I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane, Don’t Know When I’ll be Back Again

Leaving India, I am bringing home a stomach that is a little less dependent on meat, a heart filled with friendship, a head filled with ideas and a journal filled with memories. It is easy for me to say that besides the friendships I developed with my fellow Niswarthians, the friendships that I made with the students of Riverside were the most important gifts that was given to me on this trip. Balancing a life of rigorous academics with various sports and curriculum based community service, these students are all so very well-rounded, not to mention, extremely open and friendly. These kids, who were about our age, are the nicest and most genuine students I have ever met. With my project group consisting of three Exeter/Andover students (Claire, Isabel and I) and three Riverside students (Rahil, Rohil and Mudita), we set out to try and work with the students and faculty of the Gandhi Ashram School in Ahmedabad, India to help change the view of bathroom sanitation there.

To help us with this project, we followed the guidelines of D.F.C., standing for Design for Change. It had never struck me before my Niswarth trip that change in itself is a discipline. In U.S. History, I would argue that the way the Jim Crow Laws should’ve been dealt with was through mass changes of legislation, however after this trip, I have realized that real change requires careful communication and listening to the individuals of whom the change would effect. If the U.S. government didn’t carefully listen to the Black-American population about what they wanted, they would have never understood that these people didn’t just want the laws to disappear, but they also wanted the mindset of racism to disappear. With the great friendships that my project group was built upon, we were able to develop a plan of education that will prospectively help to change the previous views of bathroom sanitation at the Gandhi Ashram School.

Our adventures with this project resulted in memories. The time that Rahil and I failed at putting the correct amount of glue on our sanitation posters, the moment when we witnessed two male peacocks fly onto the foregrounds of the school and flaunt their feathers, and the adventure to the local snack stand that resulted in us coming back with about six bags of chips will forever be etched into my memory. Thinking about this on my plane ride back to the United States just makes me want to find Claire who is just a few rows ahead of me and somehow drag Isa back from Spain where she has already landed and hug them while recalling the great memories that we shared with our best friends, Rahil, Rohil and Mudita. We will most certainly never forget our Riverside friends. I would like to thank the beloved faculty of the Niswarth trip for the fantastic opportunity that I was given, but most of all I would like to thank India for being the best home away from home possible. Thank you and Namaste.