Relationships and Experiences

|Author: Evan P.|

What do you hope to get out of your time in India?

This is a question that I have repeatedly been asked and have been asking myself. When initially toying with the idea of coming to India, the answer I told myself was to get new experiences, and to learn. Before arriving in Bangalore, I knew very little about India. Other than the little I had seen from movies like Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire, learned about in school, or could recall from conversations with the few Indian kids I knew growing up, I basically knew nothing. The fact that I knew very little before coming excited me. My knowledge of India started out as basically a blank slate, ready to be created into something beautiful after a quarter abroad.

After I made the decision to come, learned more about the program, and was starting to prepare, my answer changed. At this point we knew a lot more about the work that we would be doing and were beginning to learn about grand challenges. I still wanted to learn as much as I could, but in the end I wanted to be able to make an impact, take the knowledge that I had gained, and do something with it.

Now we have been in India for over 2 months, and to be honest I hit the mark pretty well with my initial answer. Everyday, I feel that there is so much I want to learn. Throughout this trip we have been introduced to numerous fascinating individuals and companies. Just this past week I got to meet the founders of Biome, an architecture firm focusing on sustainable building and also an environmental trust that focuses on water issues. I also got to tour Good Earth, a development company that focuses on unbuilt spaces, sustainability, and landscape architecture. And yesterday we visited Auroville, a town that wants to be a universal town for all people with the purpose of realizing human unity. All three of these experiences were fascinating, and I really want to learn more about all three. On this trip I have also had multiple fascinating books recommended to me, all that I would love to read. We have also been learning a lot about India, its history, culture, caste system, and grand challenges. And there is so much more I want to research and learn about India. On top of all of this we have our project, and our NGO. Both of which I want to spend a lot time towards.

The purpose of this tangent is to show that there is so much that I want to do in India, and there is so much that I want to learn. Unfortunately, we do not have all the time in the world, as a matter of fact, we have less then 2 weeks. In these two weeks I highly doubt that I can finish all our projects to the extent that I hope, read all the books that want to read before we leave, research all the interesting companies and places that we have been, let alone visit all the places I want to see. I’ve accepted this, and as a result I’ve decided that the one thing above all else that I want to take away from my time in India is relationships. The thing that has had the largest impact on me so far is not the brutal truth of the grand challenges that we’ve seen, but the relationships that I have created. I still think that our groups can have an impact during our time here, in fact I think that we already have. Even if we don’t create the next great company in India with its goal set to solve India’s problems, we have made a lot of lasting relationships with people that care a great deal about these issues and are working hard to solve them. The relationships that I am talking about are the relationships with my 16 incredible classmates, the wonderful instructors both from UW and from ILK, the hardworking employees of SELCO, the thought-provoking SJC students, and every other person that we have interacted with and have contributed to making our time in India as great as it has been.

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