My apologies for not writing this blog a few weeks earlier but I have been keeping busy with school work. To say this trip has truly been amazing would be an understatement. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I admit that in the beginning I was nervous and scared. Could I really do this? Was I ready to leave my comfort zone to embark on something like this? Could a 15 year old kid from San Jose, Ca. make a positive impact on the educational experiences of students half way around the world? Well I can now say yes to these questions. My only regret is that I wish I could have stayed longer, it was truly an incredible experience.
In 2 short weeks, I feel like I experienced a lot of the amazing country that is India. I saw things that were beautiful like the Golden Temple of Amritsar, hip and modern cities like Chandigarh, places with deep history and diversity like Delhi, and I witnessed things that troubled and saddened me like extreme poverty and schools that were crumbling and lacking in some of the very basic necessities. I spent quality time with my cousins and aunts and uncles who showed me a wonderful time, shopping, eating amazing cuisine, sightseeing and learning to play Cricket. I got to meet with some of the students, parents and administrators of two of the schools in Nabha where, for now, I am focusing on for my project.
Just walking into the elementary school in Nabha, words can’t describe it. The school was thrashed, the sign was broken and shaking in the wind, the paint on the walls were chipping, many times the school doesn’t get electricity or water, when it rains often time the kids have to sit outside. The teachers, administrators, students and parents desperately want help, and we are going to help them as much as we can, in order to make the school better not only for the students but also for the teachers who pour their heart and time into the school so that the kids can learn one day at a time. I learned from the elementary school teachers that sometimes they dig into their own pockets to pay the power bills for the school. This really showed me how devoted they are to their students and school.
When I arrived at the high school to present them with 50 new desks so that they do not have to sit on the floor at school, I did not know what to expect. I was blown away with the reception they organized. The students were on summer break but they all came to the school to receive me. Not only did students, teachers, administrators and parents show up but they organized the most wonderful reception. Indians really know how to throw events, weddings, parties, and now this reception.
One of my favorite parts of the visit to the school was interacting with and talking to the high school students. I was so honored that they took time from their summer break to come and meet me. I was a little surprised and very happy to see that they were a lot like me, a teenage boy who likes music, movies, sports and of course, school. I was not sure what to expect because of what I thought would be a language barrier but that was not a problem. Many of them spoke some English and for those who did not, one of the teachers acted as a translator so that we could interact and ask each other questions. Of course this also made me realize that I must improve my Punjabi. I also found that many of them had Facebook accounts so I gave them my profile name so that we could keep in touch.
It was a lot to take in but I believe my sights have narrowed. I know what my project has to focus on now, as slow as it may be, one school at a time, but I know now that we can help the schools that need it. So many are in need and we can only help so many at once but with hard work, determination and the support of so many of you, we will eventually get there.
I thank everyone who has supported me up to this point, I can’t express how grateful I am but I can certainly try. I hope that you all continue to support me because I will definitely need it in the near future. I will keep you all updated on my fundraising endeavors as well as my progress via my blog. Together I know we can help India’s schools and I thank you all once again.
With love and gratitude,