What Am I Leaving Behind?

            As I travel to India from the U.S., I leave a few things behind. The first “thing” that comes to mind, a tangible object, is my cello. It is (I hope) standing in its white case in the basement of the music building. While I sit in a cafe on the other side of the world, the calluses on my left-hand fingers seem to grow softer each letter I type into this blog post.  

            The second thing I leave behind is YouTube and TV, probably my main sources of distraction. As I leave behind my constant consumption of entertainment, along with social media, I plan to replace my deep meanderings on the Internet with activities requiring a little more purpose and thought, like writing and reading. I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring a few days before and made pretty good progress on our flight to Doha.

            One of the most exciting things for me of going on this trip is my lack of worry for how I will “fit in.” A large part of this is because I am part of a group, but another factor is that the main purpose of our trip is not tourism. While I am a visitor, I hope that leaving behind the idea of tourism will put me in a different category from those who visit India for sightseeing. Leaving behind the expectations of “touring” and “sightseeing” has helped me to prepare for discomfort, especially in situations where I will be faced with cultural differences and my own ignorance. I think that when I am in America, an instinct to assimilate kicks in. It often feels as though I have been programmed to push aspects of my home culture to the back of my head in order to “fit in.” I hope that during Niswarth, I will be more thoughtful of my actions and the culture around me, instead of pushing these things to the back of my mind. By leaving behind the fear of becoming the “American, teenage tourist,” I hope to make more room for reflecting and observing context, particularly in my interactions with the people I meet.