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On our last day of school, all of the children came in with colorful beaded bracelets tied with yarn around their wrists. These were for the holiday Rakshabandhan, which is a Hindu holiday celebrating siblings where everyone gives their brothers and sisters a bracelet. As I walked into class that morning, two of the girls, Astha and Saskhi, pulled out bracelets and tied them on my wrist. That moment of them tying the bracelet on my wrists not only captured how close I’ve become with them, but how welcoming and loving Indian culture is. Over the past three weeks I’ve gotten to know these girls, along with many other students in this 6th grade class, really well. Most of them call me “Meagan DiDi,” where Didi means “older sister” in Hindi. This seemed fitting because even though most of our time spent with them was in the classroom teaching English, they didn’t feel like my students. They felt like my little brothers and sisters.

“This trip has not only made me excited and eager to learn about more cultures, but to give back in my own communities at home and at school.”

My favorite part of this experience has been the relationships that I’ve made here. Through playing sports with the kids I got to interact with them in a more informal setting. They taught me Indian field games and shared about their families and home life with me. It was also an opportunity for me to share with them what my life is like back home. What I loved the most about being on the field with them was that we were all equals. The kids didn’t treat me like I was their teacher. I was one of them — playing games, making secret hand shakes with the girls, and becoming closer with them each day. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know and spend time with everyone in the ACE group. Everyone helped each other out with lesson planning and it was nice to be able to talk about our observations and thoughts as we experienced this new culture. We had a great group dynamic and had a lot of fun exploring the city of Delhi together.

ACE Student-Athlete With VIDYA Students

It’s hard to put into words how incredible this trip has been. From the moment that I arrived in India I was greeted by CCS staff, who have been so supportive and answered any and all questions we have had throughout our trip. Everyone I’ve met here has been really open and kind, which allowed me to open myself up that much quicker in a place that was so different than home. This trip has not only made me excited and eager to learn about more cultures, but to give back in my own communities at home and at school. Although I am sad to leave behind the kids and this city, I am so grateful to have spent these three weeks in India and have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships and immerse myself in a new culture.

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