Looking back on the first week in India, I’ve only briefly learned about and yet have already experienced two of the core values of Indian culture: the emphasis on family and hospitality. Although there are many different religions, languages, and habits in India, these are two of the values that lay the foundation for daily living. From the time we arrived at the airport to the end of the first week teaching at the school, the kindness of everyone we have interacted with has been undeniable.
After a 48 hour + total travel time with Alexa, Micheal and Jake (due to flight cancellations and additional delays), you could say the excitement we had upon arriving in Delhi was tangible. The Cross Cultural Solutions staff made the transition easy and made sure we were caught up on the orientation information that we missed. The other six members of ACE from Stanford and Duke welcomed us as well, and told us everything we needed to know before we even had to ask. I immediately felt part of a family — a family that has each other’s backs as we dive in to a vibrant new world filled with unfamiliar sights, tastes and smells.
“…when the students beg me to go to class or play sports with them by grabbing my hands and guiding me up the stairs, I am reminded that my presence here is appreciated. That even if I am only around for three weeks, the least I can do is share my passion for learning and sports.”
The hospitality at the school the first day, and that which has continued throughout the week, fully encompasses the core of the culture. On Tuesday, we were taken in and given a cup of tea and then we went on a tour of the school where the students in every class stood up to greet us, “Good morning, Ma’am. Good morning, Sir.” As much as this surprised me the first day, seeing all the kids greet me by name the rest of the week (even though I only introduced myself once) is what solidified my sense of belonging.
Yes, teaching English in a foreign country is challenging and intimidating and at first caused me to be a little hesitant. But when the students beg me to go to class or play sports with them by grabbing my hands and guiding me up the stairs, I am reminded that my presence here is appreciated. That even if I am only around for three weeks, the least I can do is share my passion for learning and sports. I can share the details of my family back home and ask about their families. And while I can’t do anything to change their situation, I can let them into my life and they can let me into theirs.