To this day, I still can't believe that I travelled to India. I didn't know what affect this journey would have on me. Whatever this experience had in store for me I had to deal with it, because on July 7, 2013, there was no turning back.
I was already nervous from the get go, because I was traveling with people that I barely knew. Fellow teenagers and I (there were about 14 if us) participated in teamwork activities leading up to the trip, but it didn't really bring us together spiritually. You would've never known that there was a point of time that we couldn't even hold a conversation without it becoming awkward, being that we now identify our group as "The Family."
From the moment we landed, I was amazed by the little things, such as the tuk tuks and rickshaws (I think that as a group, we can all agree that this was our favorite form of transportation), and I couldn't stop snapping my camera. It took a silent walk after our typical morning meeting to realize that we were in India. We silently reflected on the people, open shops, and stray dogs that we observed as we walked the surrounding streets of the World Buddhist Center, our home in New Delhi. I would have to say that this is when I started to view life through a new pair of lens.
I've met Indian children who were orphans, but were the most gracious and happy children that I've ever met. I saw that this was the case for the people of India in general, and what I saw was confirmed when I took a Buddhist philosophy class with a Tibetan monk, one-on-one. It was clear that the people of India respected the Divine Power in general, being that going to the Buddhist Temple, Sikh Temple, Hindu Temple, Mosque, or Cathedral weekly, if not daily, was the way of life. But when I spoke with my Buddhist philosophy teacher, he told me that basically for the majority, Indian and Tibetan people believe that God is their main priority and he is the reason for everything, which I wholeheartedly agree. I am proud to say that I am from America, especially since I can exercise free speech, religion, etc., but the lessons I learned and my overall experience in India, reminded me of what is missing in America. We get angry when we don't have the latest sneakers, but I lived with a family who escaped their homeland over twenty years ago and live in a house with two rooms, yet they are the most loving people that I've met thus far.
I just wish that we could all withdraw from media and materialistic items to see how we are all connected, and more importantly to see that we're not in complete control. We are not larger than life.
I had a blast in India. In fact, I plan to live there between undergraduate and graduate school, but as you can see, this was a very humbling experience for me, which is why I felt compelled to begin a clean water fund for families in India.
I highly recommend traveling abroad, especially to a developing country, because it forces you to put everything in perspective. I guarantee that you'll live a more focused and happier life due to this.