Preface to Blog 5 PHOTOS
8:30 AM, April 1st, 2013 – Dublin School, Dublin NH
We are now safely back on Dublin’s campus, still recovering from fatigue and jet lag after a crazy 36-hour adventure to get home that involved a canceled flight, heated exchanges with incredibly unhelpful armed guards, unanticipated stops in Vienna and Toronto, and two hours stuck on a runway (before a 9-hour flight) with de-icing malfunctions. Our last 24 hours in India were also quite hectic. We left the hotel in Nainital around 6:15 AM on the 28th, drove 90 minutes to Kathgodam, took a nearly 7-hour train ride back to Delhi, waited for a while for pick-up at the train station and then spent the evening driving around Delhi (while torrential rains poured down on our luggage attached to the roofs of the cars) looking for a market called Dilli Haat (which our drivers initially confused with the far inferior “Delhi Haat”) to kill some time before heading to the airport. All the while we were without any internet or phone service, which made communication all the more difficult. With our efforts so focused on just getting home, we were never able to post our final blog entry. So at long last, here are the final thoughts on India from a student perspective…
10:35 PM, March 27th, 2013 – Alka Hotel, Nainital
It is incredible to think that we have traveled across the globe to meet people just like us, who carry the same morals and values as us. It’s even more unbelievable that we can get so attached to these people in just over a week or so. A student at the Himalaya public school wrote a note to me before she departed from the school for her Holi break. The note said “friends may meet, friends may scatter, when hearts are near, distance doesn’t matter.” This goes to show how close we all got to the students at the school. So much happened between the last few days that we spent there. What made this so special was not because we easily bonded with each other, but because we learned so much from each other’s cultures. The cultural exchange became so natural and casual that I even taught them how to play UNO, which is not something you necessarily plan to do when traveling to a different country. You might wonder what’s so special about UNO, but considering that I am originally from Ghana, live in America, am traveled to India to teach them the game of UNO which translates from Spanish to English as “one”, makes everything extraordinary. In return they taught us a popular game played very often in India called “Kabaddi” (hopefully, when we arrive back at Dublin, we will be able to explain how the game is played).
5:30 PM, March 24th, 2013 – Himalaya Public School, Chaukori
We are continuing to break new ground with this year’s trip (and blog). This morning, our students shared many a tearful goodbye as the Himalaya Public School hostel (boarding) students all departed for their Holi break…well, all but two of them, but more on that in a moment. Last year, on our last day in Chaukori, the Indian students formed a long line in stretching through the school’s courtyard and out onto the dirt road, to bid us farewell. This year, in a strange role reversal, it was the Dublin School students making the rounds with hugs, high fives, secret handshakes, and countless “Namaste’s” as the HPS students left in batches throughout the morning.
It has been an action packed few days since our return from Munsiari, and there’s plenty more to come, as Dublin students have been helping to install new solar-powered lighting in the library this afternoon and we all look forward to a dual purpose trip tomorrow to see a local non-profit and ancient underground Hindu cave temple. But in the end, this is a trip built on relationships and I have been truly amazed by the mutual friendliness and positive energy exhibited by all parties, visitors and hosts alike. In fact, the connections this year have been so profound that two sisters, Manju and Kavita Karki, requested that their family pick them up a day late so that they could spend more time with the Dublin crew. Their generosity and hospitality (particularly Kavita’s, since her exams finished early and she could have gone home three days ago) were most appreciated, as the Dublin students were struggling with the prospect of an empty campus for their final day or two in Chaukori.