As July 18th approached faster, and as I checked off everything on my packing list, my nerves began to grow. I was nervous about going to India and experiencing the culture shock everyone warns you about. I was nervous about the food (I am pretty weak when it comes to spices), the hot climate, and even my role in the organization, SPYM, where I would be working for the next three weeks.
Looking back, there was no reason to be nervous. Yes, the culture is different than that of the United States, but it was not as big of a change as people had led me to think. Indian culture is rich in religion, bright colors, festivals, and family. The spices in the food? The taste buds adjust. The heat? After a day or two to get used to the temperature, and as long as you wear the proper clothes made with Indian cotton, the heat is no trouble.
When we walked out on the last day making sure to shake every boy’s hand, I wished I could stay longer. Walking out, I couldn’t remember why I was nervous about working with SPYM.
Lastly, SPYM. Working at SPYM was the most rewarding part of my experience. As I stated in my first blog post, SPYM is a NGO that works with boys who have been arrested for some crime and are also addicted to drugs. During the ninety days they spend at SPYM, the boys are taught basic literacy, first-aid, and other lessons that prove to the boys that they can have a future beyond drugs.
Immediately, we were attached to the boys. Every day we were greeted by “good morning ma’am,” handshakes, and smiling faces. The days integrated literacy lessons, arts and crafts, and games. Even though there was a language barrier, it was still easy to communicate with the boys. I learned quickly to talk more with my hands and act out what I was saying, and the boys did the same. When we walked out on the last day making sure to shake every boy’s hand, I wished I could stay longer. Walking out, I couldn’t remember why I was nervous about working with SPYM. SPYM had a positive impact on my time in India, and I hope more Duke and Stanford students will be able work with the organization in the future.