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).
While our days were filled with tasks that required energy, our evenings were more relaxed, with time spent doing things like getting henna designs and some Hindi words on our arms. This created a quality time for all of us to sit and chat about things between the two countries. Inherently, every single conversation was a cultural exchange. We talked about everything from politics, to the educations system, to religion, to media, and to social life. Over time, our conversations became more in depth with each other and all the different things we encountered in India started to seem less foreign to us. Just when we became familiar to the meal times, the food, the music, and their daily activities, it was time to say goodbye to them. This year, because of our schedule, we were the ones who had to stay behind while the students said goodbye to us. In life, it hurts more to be left behind than to be the one leaving. We all knew this day was coming but didn’t think it would happen this fast.
The night before all the Himalaya public school students had to depart; we had a ceremony where all Dublin students gave a little speech about why they came on the India trip. At this ceremony we also had treats for all the students because this was our way of saying our final goodbye. This moment was bittersweet to say the least. There were a few sobs and tear drops between the Dublin students and the Himalaya public school students. However, on the next day, which happened to be Molly’s 18th birthday, while we were the only ones left on campus, the remaining kitchen staff threw a surprise dance/dinner party for us. They later explained that they wanted our last stay at the school to be a memorable and a joyous night. This definitely lifted our sad spirits from the goodbyes to a happy last stay in Chaukori. As I write this sitting on my bed in a hotel in Nainital, I am getting mentally prepared for the long trip back to Dublin school knowing that school has already resumed. To think that we have only been in India for about two weeks and some days is inconceivable, because it feels like we have been here for a couple of months. I say this on behalf of the other Dublin students on this trip: our time here has truly been a life changing experience.
By Lizzy Takyi