Can I Take You With Me?

Only eighteen days ago, I slouched in the warm aqua marine seats of the Dubai Airport for the first time, absorbing the smell of native scented oils, the distant cries piercing the air as they traveled from the prayer room, and the sight of women walking briskly through the terminal, draped in their beautifully hand crafted scarves and saris. Only eighteen days ago, we jetted through the airways, landing in the city of Ahmedabad, where I walked along the paths of the airport parking lot only to witness cows, heavily chomping away at the grass and the fertile soil underneath. Now only eighteen days later, after a trip full of profuse sweating, dancing until my ankles began to throb, and colorful tikkas being placed on my forehead, I wonder how deep a imprint my feet made onto the beautiful red sands of India. Better still, I wonder how much sand has caked densely onto the soles of my shoes, and how much of these beautiful Indian sands, full of unforgettable experiences, I carry with me as I travel home.

In the past eighteen days, I’ve discovered that affecting change in any community requires the values I witnessed a healthcare worker of the Setco Foundation employ in her interaction with an expectant mother. In the healthcare worker’s conversation with the young lady, I observed her careful approach in assisting her. She veered away from using a formula to do list in her communication with her, but instead she demonstrated a friendship based upon love, and most importantly, trust. In this meeting, the healthcare worker expressed to the mother the important of nourishing her body for the baby’s safety and survival, she provided her with a layout of many options to ensure her hemoglobin count increased, and she even educated her on the difference between her stomach and her uterus. In a single session, this healthcare worker was able to alter the state of this women’s health, and to educate her of her options in the process. The expectant mother didn’t feel threatened or intimidated by the healthcare worker’s approach, but she realized that the Setco healthcare worker had her best interest at heart. From a gentle rub on the shoulder to assuring the mother of her baby’s well being, the healthcare worker proved diligent in her effort to maintain a healthy relationship and partnership with the young lady, by entreating her with the highest level of kindness, and in providing this adolescent mother with the tools she needed to successfully rear her baby. From this meeting, I am taking with me a greater sense of responsibility to care for those that surround me, and to cultivate that through an atmosphere of genuine love. This healthcare worker could only accomplish her task successfully through creating a relationship with the mother based upon love and trust, stemming from a pure place. In retrospect, I realize that I can only become a changing agent in the lives of others, if I employ these values in my interactions with those to whom I am connected, both while at Andover, and while in my local community.

With every photograph that I have taken while on this trip, with every Facetime call, and with every blog post, I’ve realized that collectively, these various elements compose a great story to share with others. From visiting the anganwaddis in rural villages, to sitting in on board room meetings with people of great influence, these are experiences that many will never have. The Niswarth program entered, for instance, into the Schools for the Blind without a true understanding of the complexity behind attending an institution of that caliber, and living in one of that sort. We entered in faced with the challenges of finding ways to meet the specific needs of the individuals in that community. From day to day, we endured hardships in challenging our minds to expand, to generate more ideas, to work collaboratively, and not only amongst ourselves, but with the teachers, students, and staff of our respective schools. Sometimes our personal preferences interfered with our rational judgment in decision making, and sometimes we stumbled in making our plan feasible and useful to the user. However, in this process of FEEL, IMAGINE, DO, and SHARE, we learned the importance of relying on each other for support when an idea seemed unreasonable, we learned the importance of cultivating a personal relationship with the students, and we learned the value of compromise when it came time for us to narrow down our idea to a specific goal. In the end, we proved successful in producing sanitation devices, hands on learning science aids, musical songs, and many other prototypes and products. These experiences, however, are unique to the Niswarth family, meaning that I have the unique opportunity to take home stories of my experience while on Niswarth that may inspire others to employ the principles ofFEEL, IMAGINE, DO, and SHARE, or possibly to create their own method of affecting change in their community. I believe that it is imperative that I not only remember the experiences I had while on this Niswarth trip, but that I take home amazing stories to tell others.