My first experiences and introductions in India have been completely enlightening. I have had such a pleasure learning of this country’s rich history and the diversity that extends nationwide as a result of more than 6,000 years of lively, ever-evolving culture. My understanding and appreciation of India have only grown since I arrived here and will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks with more adventures and explorations. I hope my time here will help me to learn and embody some of the Indian values, especially those pertaining to hospitality and kindness to all.
On one of our first days in India, our CCS director Bela told us how India’s long history and large landscape have made for a great deal of diversity across the country. Though she has lived in India for nearly her entire life, she said she couldn’t describe the ways and norms of being because they differ on a town-to-town basis. However, one value that is embedded in all Indians nationwide is hospitality. Bela described the standard of showing kindness and giving to everyone, whether they are people, animals, or others. If a stray dog comes by your door, then you should give him something to eat and drink so he doesn’t go hungry. If you are welcomed into someone’s home, then you should express your gratitude to that person in whatever way you can (sweets, flowers, or otherwise). The philosophy behind these actions is that any one of the people or animals that you come in contact with in life could be God, and to give the best to God means giving the best to everyone.
“Both at the Vidya School and the Earth Saviours Foundation, we have encountered nothing but extensions of warmth and generosity. Not only do I feel like an honored guest, but also I feel like I am a valuable part of the groups I have the privilege of interacting with.”
Though this philosophy sounds religious, it is more embodied as an outlook on life to be mindful that we are all living beings who can give and receive kindness. In just my first week in India, I have seen such behavior in action everywhere I have been. Both at the Vidya School and the Earth Saviours Foundation, we have encountered nothing but extensions of warmth and generosity. Not only do I feel like an honored guest, but also I feel like I am a valuable part of the groups I have the privilege of interacting with.
I am very grateful that my first experience in a new country has been showered with friendliness and benevolence. I have found myself inspired by the selflessness and joy of life that I have experienced so far and I look forward to what lies ahead with a full and happy heart.