Everyone Should Have a Chance
Before coming to Bangalore, it seemed like everyone I knew had something to say about how my experience in India would be. People would tell me how bad it smells, and how I would get sick from the water and food. Others would warn me about my personal safety, and to make sure that I was never alone. I even had a woman at a nail salon tell me that she had friends in India, and I definitely couldn’t paint my toenails orange or pink for some reason. I took it all with a grain of salt, but I kept these warnings in the back of my mind.
Now after being here for almost two weeks, I can confidently say almost none of those things are true. I am constantly greeted with the aroma of flavorful street food, or the fresh floral scent that surrounds our UTC campus. I can easily argue that Bangalore smells much better than Seattle. Although I have been cautious about where I drink water from, I’ve had ice in my drinks, and I have consumed as much food as possible. Unfortunately, as I write this now, I am currently sick. I guess you can’t always get lucky.
After walking the streets with my friends for a couple days, I quickly began to notice that I didn’t feel uncomfortable, as I do sometimes walking the streets of Seattle. We do get a lot of stares, but they are stares of curiosity, which occasionally will lead to a selfie. Almost every person we talk to, whether it’s asking for directions or buying fruit from a fruit stand, is always kind and welcoming.
One particular moment that I truly will never forget was when we visited Parikrma Centre for Learning. The mission of this school is to ensure that every student is looked after until they get a job. They do this by having a 360-degree program, where they are provided 3 meals a day, healthcare, family support, and education. They explained how essential it is to have this initiative, as the students there come from the poorest of the poor slums in Bangalore.
When we got to interact with the students, I was shocked at how excited they were to talk and play with us. They were in grade 4 and were already bilingual and could even read and write in English. One of the best parts about this experience was simply playing with them; they taught me different dancing games and their version of duck duck goose and tag. This experience not only touched my heart but also opened my eyes to how important it is to give everyone a chance, no matter what background you come from.
These past two weeks have been a lot to take in, but in the best way possible. Every day there is a new adventure, and I have yet to find a time where I am not learning something. I can’t wait to see what the next 8 weeks have in store. The only thing I can hope for is that I won’t get sick again!