As my time at my internship came to a close and my flight home approached, I thought back to when I first arrived in India. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I roamed around the airport, asking anyone and everyone for advice. Six weeks later, I knew a few more words in Hindi and felt much more comfortable but overall still clueless. I could not have asked for anything more and I have grown immensely. I was blessed with amazing people around every corner, teaching me that it was okay to ask for help. My adventures have taught me that the unknown doesn’t necessarily have to be scary but it instead means that there’s room for personal growth.
I was incredibly sad to leave the women that I met at the centers and I will miss each of their lighthearted and powerful spirits. It was difficult to say goodbye to the teachers, who I have grown so close to. As difficult as it was to say goodbye to my host family, I am just as confident that I will see them again because my time in India is not over.
The blow of my final goodbyes subsided in my final week of work as I looked forward to my mother coming to travel with me. My excitement grew to travel throughout the dazzling country with my beautiful mother. A little tea, a little Taj; can a mother-daughter trip get any better than that? I was able to show her all of the wonders of my experiences, instead of merely trying to explain them (which would, of course, not do any of them justice).
It all began in the Delhi airport, where my mother cried real tears—a rare occurrence.
The true adventures started when, later that night, we went in search of a market near our hotel. Asking for directions from a kind stranger on the street, I was informed that the market was “down the street a ways, take a right”. Sounded great, I thought. Let’s walk, I thought. However, my mother began to get a little nervous when we were walking on the side of the road because the traffic in New Delhi has a little bit more oomph than in our little hometown of Greenville, MI. She suggested that we walk on the sidewalk, to which I looked around at the two-lane road, decorated with fruit stands, bus stops and cows and assured her that a sidewalk was not an option. Before picking my mother up from the airport it really felt like I was still as lost in India as I was when I had first arrived, but something as little as this excursion assured me that I had, indeed, grown throughout my six weeks; I felt comfortable asking strangers for directions and I knew how to cross the extremely busy streets, where the traffic never skips a beat.
I came to many realizations while adventuring with my mother, which opened my eyes to different sides of the country. Before her arrival I had been living with a host family, eating food prepared by “auntie” and traveling by way of public transportation. After six weeks of this, I really did feel comfortable and my host family’s house began to feel like a home. This kind of travel taught me so much about visiting a country and learning about the culture. Traveling around the “Golden Triangle” (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) and seeing how tourists interacted with the tourism sites motivated my passions in safely entering communities because this kind of travel takes a toll on the country, but the individuals don’t have to make as much of an effort. In this environment, it’s easy for the individual to draw conclusions about the culture and to never be corrected, as they do not have any ties or relationships. There is beauty in reason and by drawing our own conclusions we are losing the original intent of the traditions in cultures, which can be both sad and dangerous.
I do feel extremely blessed to have spent my final week in such a beautiful country with my mother and it was a learning experience for both of us. My mother was honestly very hesitant about me traveling alone for such a long time and throughout our time in Jaipur she met my family and my co-workers, all of whom had made huge efforts to keep me safe. She had the opportunity to learn about the culture that I fell in love with and she, too, learned to appreciate it. The entire week was an experience that I will never forget, filled with laughs, rain and sweat.