Wow. Here I am at my final blog post. I’m trying to be reflective at the moment but to be honest I’m thinking too hard about the next three days. Three days left to fulfill this mounting desire to make our business model real and seal up all the loose ends that happen in the process of attempting to solve real challenges. Beneath this anticipation and focus is a rising sense of pride, and accomplishment. We’ve done a lot since arriving in Bangalore. All of us. Staring around the classroom yesterday I saw faces that were concerned, intent, sometimes frustrated, but every single one was engaged. This level of engagement only comes when one believes in what they’re doing.
But enough about us. These blogs tend to be self oriented but I cannot leave without acknowledging what allowed us to grow and learn in this environment. Of course there’s Aruna and Bhargavi who with their evidently infinite wisdom did a superb job of introducing both the history and dynamic of this city, as well as teach crucial skills necessary to navigate the constant interviewing we conduct in different communities. These cultural navigation skills will transcend time and I’m sure I’ll draw on them for my entire life. Then there’s Meenakshi whose early speech on her experience with caste and gender illustrated ever so candidly just how real these issues are and laid an important foundation for us all. Of course my man Elbin, who despite meeting me with a beaming grin every morning I’m convinced can’t stand me. Although he keeps me at arms length I can’t say enough about him. A logistical mastermind to say the least. This guy could lead an army to war in six different languages and still have time to take a phone call in the middle of battle. I’m still holding onto to hope that one day he’ll drink a Kingfisher with me.
There’s Jenny, who no matter the time of day or place will ask you how things are going and genuinely offer great advice on how to take next steps. She also hikes up mountains and then skis down which is absurdly badass. Deborah, who may have saved my life when she educated me on the nature of rabies bites and helped me navigate the Indian health care system. Her level of experience overseas is from what I can tell unmatched.
We can’t forget Julian. He has made a homecoming for the final week of GCIL so he can watch us frantically put together the final pieces to our businesses. I commend Julian for constantly pushing us. He doesn’t expect an OK business, he wants something that can actually work and won’t let you settle. If that means tearing your evidence apart in meetings I’ll take it cause the real world is gonna do that anyway in a much less friendly way with much larger consequences.
However there is one group of faculty who I have spent the most time with and have far and away made the most direct impact on the success of Biome’s project. That is our tireless translators Aditi and Anna. At a days notice they will stand in the hot sun for hours intently listening to anyone from well diggers to headmasters to 1st graders speak, and convey this back to us. Often we ask follow up questions, sometimes we don’t understand and need them to repeat themselves, often their job is extremely difficult. Despite this not once has their enthusiasm and patience faltered. They’re always smiling and always going out of their way to be helpful. I’m not exaggerating when I say we would be virtually useless without their help.
So as I pack up my bags in a couple days no doubt will I feel proud, the growth and knowledge I’ve acquired here is really priceless and I’ll use it for life. But without these faculty members waking up with us every single day to make sure we have the tools to succeed, we’d just be 17 american students wandering around getting ripped off by auto drivers. So from the bottom of my heart thank you GCIL/ILK faculty for the energy and drive. I know many of you left family to run this program for us and I hope we made your sacrifice worth it.