During the first week in India, our ACE group had the pleasure of visiting a local school three times to participate in various classes including psychology, music, economics, biology, P.E., and dance. I was amazed to see how each class consisted of children who were willing to learn and not only share their knowledge with the teacher and their classmates, but also with us foreigners. The children and teachers quickly turned my nervous feelings of being an outsider into those of comfort and acceptance.
In music class, we learned how to sing the “Gayatri Mantra” – a mantra about God guiding us in the right direction. Of course, the pronunciations were close to impossible at first, but we quickly connected to the song and found ourselves singing it in our apartment until all hours of the night. We had the pleasure of performing it with the students of the D.A.V. Public School during their yearly exhibition. We had been welcomed into the community with open arms.
In economics class, I listened in and briefly added my own thoughts to the lesson when the teacher asked for my opinion. After the class, the children swarmed around me to ask as many questions as humanly possible. One boy asked if I knew who Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson was and if I liked the “Fast and Furious” movies. Another girl asked me if I had been shopping, and she gave me the names of some fantastic markets to go to. The children proved to be curious about where I came from and who I was, yet they were just as excited to share their culture with me and invite me into a country so different from my own.
Dance class was hectic. We watched the students perform a few dances and then were thrown into the next ones. I am certainly not a great dancer. I immediately found myself lost in the quick and complicated dance moves for each song. The kids next to me could easily tell that I was struggling, so they took me under their wings. One girl who knew each dance by heart coached me through each move, sometimes sacrificing herself just to help me stay on beat. The helpful and selfless nature of the kids from the D.A.V. school is not something you see every day.
This first week has been anything but predictable. I have been faced with the challenges of being a foreigner and experienced the welcoming and selfless nature of the Indian culture. So far, I have been presented with many life-changing and thought-provoking experiences. I cannot wait to continue it as I further absorb my surroundings and welcome the country as it has welcomed me.