What is nurture?
When I think of nurture, I think about love, care, and protection. I think about all the times my family went out of their way to make sure that I was well. Shockingly enough, ever since I’ve arrived in India, nurture is all that I have been able to witness. Which is truly something I never expected. I came to India not knowing much about the culture but I learned very quickly that every little moment here is filled with so much care and detail, even for an “outsider” like me.
It’s mind-blowing to think about the treatment that I’m receiving from people who are just meeting me for the first time! My very first experience stepping outside the Chennai airport was a greeting from Pravin, a friend of my Program Director, and his brother. They approached my group with such bright smiling faces at two o’clock in the morning. Not only did they go out of their way to care for us at such a late/early time, but they embraced us with love. They showered us with Jasmine, which is a symbol of love and prosperity in India, and welcomed us to their homeland.
Coming from an African-American family, nurture is also an important virtue. Much like how Indians have such strong loyalty and unity, I believe that is also demonstrated in many black households. But I will say, I’ve never seen such loyalty and unity demonstrated to those who can be considered “outsiders”.
This is why this experience has meant so much to me. Here I’ve been able to see hospitality as a constant thought and action. From respect for differing religions, grand welcomings for friends and family, and more, India has shown me the true beauty of unity and care. Listening to testimonies from students from the Sethu Bhaskara School in Chennai, I learned so much about the importance of respect and values.
I do believe that this nurture mentality of many Indians come from the hospitality that is shown in this culture. My time here has shown me that one thing is for sure, Indians care. But what I was able to learn is that everyone has something that they care about, and every person wants to have that feeling of being cared for.
For my first time overseas I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to come to India with an open heart and mind. From observing the small and big ways that I experienced nurture, I’ve been able to gain a new perspective of what nurture means for me. Many times I associated that term for people who are vulnerable, such as children or those who might be hurt or struggling. But I’ve learned that nurture is for all of us.
Every person is figuring out their way and sometimes a small act of love, care, protection, or unity, is all we need. Coming here and seeing this demonstration reminded me why I want to go into the field that I do. I want to be able to let underrepresented individuals know that there are people who care about them, love them, and are willing to protect them and their voices. I want to work to bring resources into communities where individuals are able to build unity and peace through education, women empowerment, and so much more.
My greatest memory from this week was the love that was demonstrated by the students and staff of the Sethu Bhaskar School that we visited. It still blows me away to think about how many people put towards effort and time to not only welcome us but to truly embrace us. I mean these generous people basically welcomed us in with a parade. But even the small gestures meant so much. To have people care enough to offer us refreshments, to show us their culture through performances, and to be willing to have open discussions with us. These small moments built connections between individuals from two totally parts of the world and demonstrated the power of nurture.