The joy of togetherness was simple last week. Each day the Niswarth team would take part in a unique set of life-changing experiences. Our activities stirred up intense emotions, and each evening we would talk, reflect, and work through them together. I eventually identified the members of the group as the only twelve people who could truly understand what I was going through that week. At the same time, the making and processing of our own experiences merged to form a collective group experience that brought us even closer together. Each morning we dove into our day with positivity and love, and each evening came together to reflect, all the while with a sense of unity and joy in going through it all together.
This week, our joy of togetherness has become more complicated. The Niswarth team has grown by eighteen Akanksha students and formed many smaller groups, each of which will do its own DFC project. Sometimes we are not even together in our small groups, but roaming around our assigned Akanksha schools in pairs talking with students and teachers in order to gather information for our DFC. I found myself going almost a whole day with just a glimpse of many of the people I am used to seeing so often. However, on Saturday all of us - Andover and Akanksha students and teachers - went on a hike to Sinhagad Fort. The trek was just what I needed to make me remember what that simple joy of being together feels like, and gave me the ability to recognize it even in more complicated scenarios. We weren't expecting to be hiking at all. In fact, when we left the cars behind after finding out the auto road was too busy, many of us were in sandals or carrying heavy backpacks. But we weren't deterred from having a great time! We worked our way up the mountain, all of us facing the same challenge together and helping each other to overcome it. After many steps, a few rest stops, and countless selfies, we reached the top. Amidst the cheering, continued picture taking, and comparisons of our muddy clothing and hands, I again felt that simple, genuine feeling of joy at being together with an amazing group of people.
I don't want to lose that feeling of joy or allow it to get tangled up amongst the new experiences of this week any more than I have already let it happen. After sharing so much happiness as a whole group, I am excited to bring that same feeling to the smaller groups I am a part of. The hike has reminded me that the "joy of togetherness" Niswarth has come to embrace over the past weeks is a joy that can be felt with any group at any time. It never has to be complicated.