We Were Just a Part of It
Students that went on the 2014 India Field School share their stories and take-aways
Kari Pedersen, Arts Editor
The moment you get off the plane in New Delhi, India your whole world changes. It was a place I had never really thought a whole lot about. It was like I knew it was there, but it wasn’t a part of my world, or daily thought process – but now I cannot picture a day without India clogging my brain – whether with fond memories, strong culture, or overwhelming emotion – this place has become my second home.
My expectations going into the India 2014 field school were a mixture of thoughts; “What am I doing?” “I am so not ready for this” “What if I can’t make it through” and most importantly, “I hope the kids like me.” Basically what I am saying is, I didn’t have very high expectations. All I wanted was to give myself fully to this experience. I wanted to erase the fear from my brain, and just take it all in. Look past the initial shock and see the beauty. I can tell you that my expectations that this would be difficult were way off, finding the beauty in India was the easy part.
The India field school is built up of three parts, Sightseeing in Delhi, Visiting the Sri Ram Ashram, and Studying at the Lovely Professional University. The first part was full of excitement, seeing places we never thought we would see – The Taj Mahal in Agra, the Akshardham Temple in Delhi, the Gandhi Smirti, and the busy marketplaces. These days were full to the brim with activity and we barely had a spare second to waste. But on day seven of the trip for Group C we made our way to the next stop, and for many the most memorable; the Sri Ram Ashram.
Located just outside the city of Haridwar, the Sri Ram Ashram was founded in 1984 by Baba Hari Dass, often referred to as Babaji. One of the Ashram children described Babaji’s goals saying “It was his dream, we were just a part of it.” Since its creation the Ashram has become home to many children, the number over 65, but continuing to grow. This place is truly special, providing shelter to some of the most amazing kids I have ever had the opportunity to meet. The bonds we made during our week there I will never forget. You become part of the family – never do you feel unwelcome, or uncomfortable – you are just a member of the Ashram from the day you arrive going forward. The day we left the Ashram was definitely one of the hardest days I can remember in my life.
Thankfully I did not have to leave India right after, and instead made our way back to Delhi to meet group D and head to the Lovely Professional University. Although this part of my trip did not quite measure up to the rest, I experienced so much while visiting LPU that I would not trade the experience for another. While at LPU we were able to connect with our tour guides Rajat and Prishant, experience university life on the other side of the world, and see the most beautiful place I have ever seen, Dharamsala a small city in the Himalayan Mountains, home to the Dalai Lama.
It is truly difficult to describe my trip in words, because as I recall certain things, other things come flowing back to me and it is as if there are not enough words to tell all of my stories, but I can say this; India is no longer a place of fear for me, it is a new home, with a new family. I can honestly say that I will be going back to India at some point in my life, because as Yasmin Dean, Social Work Professor and Field School Facilitator says – this is not the type of place you visit just once, you have to keep coming back.
To hear more stories about the India 2014 Field School please attend the Showcase on Thursday June 26, from 9:30 – 11:30 AM in the O205 Room at Mount Royal University.