Week 1- Chennai, India





Hello everyone!

Above are a few pictures of my first week in India! The first city we arrived in was Chennai, now, for being someone who talks on a literal 24/7 basis, I have found it rather hard to connect words to my thoughts. Upon arriving to this hospitable country, I have realized how I have never been showered with such hospitality, love, kindness, curosity, and dedication in my life before like I was here. This culture is so beautifully rooted in tradition, respect, and history that I am constantly left in utter awe. From the second I stepped out of that plane my immediate reaction was to sweat as the heat was incomparable to anything I had experienced at 8 am before, crowds of people rushed around me, vibrant colors flashed my face, and obvious smells confused my nose. It was as if I was walking in a dream, but somehow for once my reality was better than my dreams. Sitting on a plane for nearly 10 hours I could not help but wonder what I would experience, what I would see, hear, feel, however, I do not think my mind would have ever imagined such things my eyes have already seen.  During this first week we were given a brief introduction to what south India looked like, we ate typical meals which would require us to eat with our hands, learned about the difficulties many citizens face due to the caste system, visited temples while learned about religious tolerance and current societal issues, as well as visited many monuments that were hand made thousands of years ago.  I believe what has blown me the most away would be the admiration found in Indian people, Indian beliefs, traditions, food, smiles, words, and love. I have sat on our very big bus and always requested a window seat as I get to sit and state and look at the eyes of the people who see the different in me, but never hesitate to smile and and wave my way. It was through this watching and understanding that I learned that in order to truly appreciate and understand a culture you cannot see it through your own perception, what that I have been able to see India as it is, not necessarily as a country that “needed me” but rather a country that was aware of the things they needed to improve on but never lost sight of its true identity. Although I can talk about my first thoughts on this culture, the entire purpose of this study abroad was to study non profit organizations and learn about their management, to which we got to a visit an institution that provided education to over 8,000 students in the Chennai area. It was an incredible experience to see leaders make a difference in the lives of these children who otherwise would not have been able to receive such opportunity if it were not for their initiative. We also got to visit a “living museum” where a NGO leader wished to perserve old Indian culture that was dying off, here we got to see traditional Indian dance, receive henna, buy artisan products, and see how villages used to look like in the past. All in all, my first introduction to Indian culture was definitely a shock but one I will never forget!