After experiencing only half of this program, it has been nothing short of incredible. It all started with a challenge where the professors each gave us 500 rupees, which we were supposed to find a way to increase the amount of money so we could give the profits to charity. We raised over 30,000 rupees as a whole program, and it was amazing to see all of my classmates so excited over making a difference for the community. We also became super competitive in coming up with savvy business ideas that would make us the most rupees, and I loved to meet new people during our sales. That’s when I really started feeling like we were one big family: US, India, and China. I was meeting people who were so similar to me and who I truly connected with, yet they live halfway across the globe.
Later in the week, we went shopping for sarees to wear on Ethnic Day. We all had a blast trying on the different colored traditional wear, we must have spent three hours in the store looking for our favorite styles and textures that we could wear in a few days where everyone would dress up.
This past weekend we went to a rock garden where there was a “rain dance”. We walked up to this area where people were all dancing under a downpour of water, almost like a miniature water park. The group didn’t even hesitate in running under the water and starting to jump around. The people there were so excited to have foreigners dancing with them and they were teaching us traditional dances, and I’ve never seen such pure joy. The rock garden depicted a lot of scenes from Indian culture, and it was awesome (and educational) to hear the Indian students explain more about each part of their history, society, and culture. The Indian students truly want to teach us everything they can about their culture and the US students are eager to learn, listen, then teach others all about our culture, in return. The energy within the whole program is infectious – you can tell how much everyone wants to learn from their peers and get the most out of their experience. At least two or three times each day I stop and pause and realize how grateful I am to be surrounded with this type of acceptance, positivity, and passion. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first joined this program but now, I can’t imagine not having experienced it all.