When the voices of friends and family ring through my ear over phone call conversations that fit into the narrow space we have between time differences, I am often at a loss of what I want to sound like. I love being here and I could go on for hours about my sweet and welcoming host family, my intelligent and kind new friends, the deliciously spicy food and elaborate art, and the sounds of car horns, yelling vendors, and religious music that is my new constant background. I have been greeted here with so much love and curiosity that it gives me a whole new perspective on what it means to welcome and to love.
However, there are also things here that make my heart want to throw up and keep me up late into the night without any concrete thought to take them away. My journal is filled with pretty paintings of what I see and words of what I hear, but there are also long trails of thought that don’t seem to point anywhere. There is sadness here and it comes alive for me in poverty and in pollution and in the unmovable systems of hierarchy and caste. I feel okay to share this because this is manifested in different ways everywhere from New Delhi to the greater Hope community.
However, I still don’t know what specifics to vocally bring home. Maybe I won’t until I get there. Maybe it is taking away from being here to think too much about it. Yet, I think the internal conflict I am struggling with is worth bringing to light. What sadness do I share and what do I keep for others to find and observe when and if they come here?
As I began to prepare for my time abroad, I also began to accumulate words to put to the Western perspective of India. People would greet my “I am leaving to study abroad in India!” kind of excitement with worried faces and remarks suggesting that India would never be a place they would want to go to. This mindset is a threat to not only seeing the world in a holistic way, but to how one sees one’s own country as well. I want to share my experience fully with the people I love, but I know there are details that my words could never accurately depict.
So, I suppose my strategy is to share the excitement and the love, and more than anything else, my admiration for the people working to fix the problems that are hardest for me to come to terms with. These people are the hope and the progress I want to share. I have witnessed and gotten to know some of the most intuitive solutions and NGOs. People working not only for their community but for better models for the globe to follow. At the end of the day, I think my words will have to be carefully chosen as I describe my time here, but I am learning that this is a practice I should undertake when I am talking about all people, all places, and even myself. We all deserve the grace of being described with love first. As I struggle with finding the words to represent my time here accurately, I plan to focus on the name of the place that brought me here: Hope.