Day One: “What Am I Leaving Behind?”

As soon as our feet crossed the entranceway of the terminal, I realized the impossibility of turning back and running, skidding toward the nearest terminal destination that read “South Carolina”. This initiated a series of doubts about whether I really wanted to leave it all behind.

For months we’ve hopped from one classroom to another, planning our prospective trip without a sense that in only three weeks, we’d step across the threshold of an entirely different world, full of strange people, strange places, and strange experiences. Suddenly, however, as I’m curving around the bend in the terminal, something magnificent happens. I catch a glimpse of Mekedas’s hair flipping around the corner, and my stomach instantly leapt for joy. So excited to see each other, we clasped our hands around each others backs, not only embracing each other, but the new culture we were about to encounter.

Suddenly I realized that I was not alone, as I saw the other fifteen Niswarthians pass through security, but that the seventeen of us, hand in hand, would step onto India’s sand, ready to experience renewal and rediscovery. In order to accomplish this, I must forsake...

1) A perfectionist mentality that validates itself with perfect scores, plans, and deadlines.

2)  My worldview that scrutinizes other cultures through a Centro-American lens.

3)  A society that supports the animalistic treatment of each other, by teaching

children to value their ego, their possessions, and their own worth over that others.

4)  A society that affirms children that are invulnerable, stiff, and uncaring creatures.

5)  Any and all cultural assumptions perceived through media about India.

6)  The mundane and fast-paced lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to.

7)  A mind unwilling to learn and an unreceptive heart.

As a result of forsaking these culturally oppressive mentalities, worldviews, and assumptions, I am left bare, having stripped myself of these various notions and preconceptions, I feel unsure about how to pursue a mindset filled with more love, understanding, honesty, and humility. Now as I reflect on this pivot from one mentality to another, I realize that this pursuit can be initiated in the upcoming eighteen days, but it is one that I must continually foster for the rest of my life.