As I pass over the snow snowcapped alps of Europe by plane in the early morning sunlight, one of the most beautiful sights I will ever see in my life, so beautiful it moves me to tears, I think about my family. This is home for us, this is where the roots sprouted that grew into the tree that we try so hard to keep righted day in and out. This morning, I also think about what I have done and it occurs to me that I have had the extreme honor of working with individuals from the other side the world. Individuals whom I normally would have never met at all. Although at times extraordinarily frustrating, it is an experience that I will never forget. I have been able to experience the thought process of people who come from a completely different background than I and I can only hope they have learned from me as well. Although I do have a few minor qualms with how our class was laid out, I have enjoyed being able to take a class with my Indian counterparts. I have enjoyed watching them work, watching them play and observing them in class. Alas, as I am an armchair psychologist, this was the most fascinating and rewarding part of my educational experience in India. I noticed that, in class, the Indian students seemed to approach problems in the same way the Americans did, with the only exemption of sometimes having more hesitancy. Some of my Indian friends seemed hesitant to start new assignments, unlike the American students who would often jump right in. Perhaps this was just my personal experience, rather than a representation of Indian students as a whole. I also noticed how the students in India seemed to pay little mind to their classes, understandable, as their school system works in more of a European style where grades are decided mostly off of exams leaving little wight for classroom time.The educational experience in India is quite a bit different than the United States and that could be why this trip was so rewarding to me. To be able to observe an educational style that is so different from what we as Americans know, presents its own set of problems.These are problems that we must learn to navigate. For instance, Indian people are very indirect, something which is very foreign to us. I would often sit in class trying to figure out exactly what point people were trying to make. From this problem I learned to dissect speech. Another problem that presented itself frequently, on the part of the Indian students, was the use of a syllabus. From my discussions, I learned that Indian students do not use syllabi (at least this is what they told me). To that end, they had to learn how to use a syllabus. As I now look toward to going home, I don’t think I will ever forget the experiences I’ve had in India. However, I know, as I head home, the greatest learning experience is yet to come – reflection.
– Christopher R. F. Lentricchia
I wish I had more time in India. The people here are much friendlier than the average American and even though I have only had about a week and a half with my Indian counterparts, it feels like I have known them for years. They have invited me to their houses, out to dinner (Where they insisted on paying… Ugh) and out on the town. I’m not quite sure anyone was expecting this kind of chemistry. Although I have made promises to see many of my indian friends again, it is with great regret that I must face reality, there is a very good possibility I won’t. I will miss my new friends greatly and sincerely hope that they will make their way to the United States if they so chose. I have even promised some of them that I will be the first to greet them at the airport should they come to the States and that, is a promise I will keep. I have also begun making playlists of American music for some of my friends and I can only hope they will remember me when they listen to them. The last week or so has truly been like living in a fantasy world, the problems of my life have seemed to melt away into complete oblivion and my “other life” seems so far away. I have taken off my armor and I can not even imagine going back to my daily routine of homework followed by quiet reflection in the absence of company. Facing such a reality makes me depressed but I know that I must keep working – for in America there is still a dream, a dream that anyone can make it if they try. That dream lives in me and drives me to the point of insanity, but to me it is everything. The dream that I can be something much more than I could ever imagine is why I wake up every morning and why I am willing to sacrifice everything for my personal success. I believe in the American Dream and that is why I am looking forward to going home. Leaving India is bittersweet, but It is time to strap on the armor again and go back to battle.
– Christopher R. F. Lentricchia
One of the most important lessons I have learned from India is to be grateful for what I have. I, just as many Americans, am never satisfied. I am always looking for more – more money, nicer possessions, a better living space, more, more, more. As I sit mired in my unhappiness and lust for more, there are kids here in India who would love to have the very things that I am unhappy with.
Once every year, it seems, my family undertakes another round of renovations to our house – a kitchen update, a hot tub inside a gazebo in the backyard, bathroom updates, bedrooms updates, hallway updates. We are never satisfied with anything; we see our old surroundings as outdated and ugly. We can’t understand how anyone would be satisfied with this level of grotesqueness. We get mottled down in our constant need for improvement but what we don’t think about is that there are people that could not even dream to afford our house, let alone improve upon it. We should think about this. We should still engage in our renovations because we can, but we should remember not to get too frustrated for doing so is almost an insult. We should remember that what we see as ugly, outdated and unfit for living is not only perfectly acceptable in other parts of the world, it is a luxury.
Perhaps, this also confronts me with the largest social problem when communicating with someone else in a developing country. I have to censor myself for fear of being seen as gloating. What we take for granted in the United States is not given in India.
From a person who is constantly learning by observing his environment, this is what I have learned: be grateful.
– Christopher R. F. Lentrichia
India is a woman – India is a woman but she is not a supermodel who wears the Rosso Corsa while she sits in her vineyard, enjoying the finer points in life. She does not have silver arrows or anything close to white precision engineering. She never wore the Bleu de France, either. She used to wear British Racing Green but that color has since faded to the drab color it always was before she put on her makeup. In reality, she has no racing color. Still, she has a charm about her. Although she has a sense of charm, she is no place for the weary traveler who just wants to rest and have a little peace. Even though she does not wear the Cunningham Racing Stripes like America, she is the real underdog. She is the one that nobody ever expects to win. She has features she is embarrassed of, and even the ones she isn’t are not something any other girl would be proud of. Still, there is something oddly lovable about her. Although, she comes off as rough and unmannered upon first impressions, she is warm, giving, kind and pure of heart. She does not come in the name of one god or another, giving only false hope that things will get better. She understands her flaws, openly admits them and has sworn that she will fix them even if it is not until her dying day.
India is not pretty; she stands a shelled shadow of her former self, like a hummingbird that has lost its grace. She is trying now to regain it and although she faces many obstacles, some of which are not her fault, I am confident that she will do it. I am also confident that I will not be alive to see it, but someday India will be beautiful again. She has hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, even if nothing else. She does not pretend she has anything besides hope, but her hope is more beautiful and more powerful than any tangible manifestation imaginable. Someday she will wear vibrant racing colors once again and they will not just be makeup. Someday, she will race alongside the other beautiful colors and know that she has accomplished this by herself and only by herself. When they ask her why she will tell them that she has a soul that has suffered defeat one too many times and although she has deep scars, she decided that she will never lose again.
I have grown strangely fond of India
– Christopher R. F. Lentricchia