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Wow, what a fast three weeks. I really can’t believe my time in India has come to an end. It doesn’t seem right that I am flying home in two days. I could stay another three weeks, and when that came to an end I’d probably ask for another three weeks.

This has been an experience that has exceeded all expectations and is something I will never forget. I have learned so many things that will help me in the future as an athlete and a person. It was a great place where I was able to simultaneously teach and learn.

I think my trip to India will my change my attitude in the future in many aspects. I learned so many different life lessons that can be applied to everyday life, service life, and athletics.

I learned to be grateful for the small things in life. The school primarily accepted children from families that had a total income of less than 10,000 rupees per month. 10,000 rupees is equivalent to 150 US dollars. Oftentimes, the children we saw at school had multiple brothers and sisters. At first glance, some people would coin these children as less fortunate. However, being fortunate is all relative. The priorities of these people differed than the priorities in US culture. Family, relationships, and education, were the most important things to the children. Sure, they sometimes spoke of getting an education in order to make more money in the future, but their current financial standing didn’t take away from their happiness. Every day I was greeted with smiles, handshakes, and hugs from kids of all ages. Their happiness was so pure and it made me realize so many of the people I know in the United States are missing this. Oftentimes, we get caught up in our busy schedules and stress about work, school, financial issues, etc. Sometimes we forget to appreciate our good health, family, friends, and many of the opportunities we have each day.

“I think the trip and the camaraderie of the ACE program has really encouraged me to develop more relationships in service and athletics.”

I think my experience in India has allowed me to take a step back from my own life and consider all the positive things. I encourage everybody to do the same because then we can have that pure joy the children in Vidya had. I think once we have the pure joy of just living, it makes all the other things that we often stress about seem negligible.

I think the trip and the camaraderie of the ACE program has really encouraged me to develop more relationships in service and athletics. I volunteer a lot in Durham; but I have not kept in touch with many of the people I serve. I think after this experience I will do a better job of that. Seeing the same faces for three weeks and and building relationships with the children allowed me to see the impact I was making on them and allowed them to see the impact they were making on me. It took away the idea that one of us was helping the other and put us on a level playing field. I think keeping in touch and building a personal relationship with the children I serve in Durham will allow them to see that I’m not just there for the 2 hours each day; that our friendship goes deeper than just 10-12 hours a week.

Additionally, the experience has encouraged me to be more of an advocate for serving. Prior to this trip, I didn’t know a lot of athletes who volunteered and gave their time to our community. I feel a need to spread awareness of the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community. I want to start by encouraging people on my own team to do more, and I know many of the other athletes in my group will do the same. I don’t think a lot of athletes my age understand the lessons they can learn from their community and the impact they can have on people. I envision in the next few years to come that the ACE program will have even more locations, applicants, and benefiting communities. I can’t wait to be a part of that process.

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