My first week in India has been full of new experiences. One adjustment I’ve had to make since arriving is to learn when to “take space” and when to “make space.” During some athletic-leadership workshops that I’ve attended at Stanford, a common tool that facilitators use during conversations is the idea of “taking space” and “making space.” This means that at times you take a step back and make room for others to give their ideas, and sometimes, even when it may be uncomfortable to speak, you “take space” for yourself and share. There are approximately 1.3 billion people who live in India, which is easy to forget until you start traveling around Delhi and realize how enormous and bustling it is. Because of this, it is important to know when to take a step back, and when/how to respectfully make a place for yourself, both physically and intellectually. Do you nudge your way into the metro car during rush hour, or wait for the next train to come? How do you keep your place in line at the market?
This has also been a challenge at my program site. I am volunteering at NAZ, a non-profit that empowers and teaches young girls about reproductive health through a game called netball. I went to an all-girls high school and am interested in pursuing a career in gynecology, so I was particularly excited to be working with an organization that specializes in women’s health issues. However, I was unsure what my role at the organization would be. My first day in the office was confusing because everyone kept asking me what I was there to do and what I would be working on. I had assumed that someone would give me a job once I was there. I knew what I was interested in, but I didn’t want to ask for a specific job out of a fear that I would be over-stepping. I’ve learned that in order to make the best use of everyone’s time, I can’t be afraid to voice an idea I have for the kind of work I want to do. I told my supervisor that I was interested in Human Biology and she asked if we could create a seminar about nutrition to give to the junior coaches. I am excited to collaborate with Kylie and the employees at NAZ to come up with some tools that the coaches can use to help plan their meals every day.
I know that the next couple weeks will bring more incredible adventures and some challenges, but I also know that with each challenge I will learn so much about the community I am visiting, the people I am working with, and myself. Aum shanti!