Friday, June 16th 2017: The Embarkment

When I embarked on this journey this Friday, I believe I left behind a lot of things. There were a lot of concrete things that I left. This includes my house. The same house I’ve lived in since I was in kindergarten. I left the walls, corridors, and steps that I know like the back of my hand. I left my dog. (That may sound silly). But I left his always welcoming gaze and familiar smell. I left my family; the people who I’ve stuck to and depended on for my entire life. And with whom I’ve travelled to countless countries and shared a lifetime of memories with. I’ve left my cozy sweaters each imprinted with different memories from back home. I’ve traded my shorts and t-shirts for clothes suitable for a different culture or lifestyle. And all of these things are interconnected; they all fall under the realm of safety and “the known”. I am my little bubble filled with familiarity to experience something totally different. And to be honest, I am a little scared. Yes, I have been to India several times, almost every year for that matter. But this trip is different. I’m traveling to a whole other part of India that I have never explored before. So in addition, I am also leaving behind a sense of “the known” that I had connotated with my home in South India. In that house the walls, marble steps, sweet smell of my grandmother’s cooking was familiar in my travels to India. I am also traveling with a completely new group of people. It is a bit nerve-wracking because you don’t have your parents to keep on tugging you along in the airport and to hold your passport as you stand aloof. But it is also amazing because with each person on this trip is a sense of comfort or “the known”. We have all seen each other’s friendly faces around campus or in Commons so here lies a sense of familiarity and community. And then as we leave this trip in three weeks, we leave with an even bigger sense of comfort with each other and with the world in a sense. In contrast to the more concrete things I have left behind, I have also left behind some outlooks. I’ve tried to leave behind the innate way we tend to judge others on first glance. And in turn, I’ve brought empathy and a proclivity to be patient and listen. I am embarking on this trip with an open mind, heart, arms and listening ears. I am ready to experience this new adventure although it may be difficult and challenge us emotionally. I am ready to see and most importantly experience a culture much different from my suburban home and school. And I am ready to give my 100% to those we are going to help/learn from and to the rest of my friends on the trip.