I have been thinking a lot about my time spent in India. Mostly about what I did and didn’t do, what I wanted and what I got, and what I’ll miss and what I’ll probably forget. Now that my days left in India are numbered, the question: Have I done what I came here to do?
My immediate and quite honest answer would have to be a straight “No, not at all”. But before I can even answer that question I have to remember what even brought me here in the first place.
I dreamt of traveling the world since I was a little kid. When imagining this though, I didn’t intend on just visiting but I planned on living. I wanted to experience, and indulge in the world's cultures. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be raised on a green lush island, and a hot and dry land, or up in a village hidden in the mountains somewhere. What it would be like to speak a different mother-tongue, and grow up holding respect for different values. I wanted to understand people other than my own, and I yearned for something new.
At around age 11, I started searching for existing opportunities that would allow people to travel to countries for extended periods for various reasons. The programs I searched for most at the time revolved around environment and animal conservation. Though I had no way of actually joining these programs realistically due to financial difficulty, it never stopped me from looking, subscribing and reading about such opportunities. I grew very passionate about environmental issues because the importance was stressed in my studies at school. My mom taught me how to garden and my friends taught me how to compost, and I learned as much as I could from my science teachers. My passion still remains the same for these issues but as I got older I started to realize my concern of humanity or more so the lack of it.
I would say at the end of middle school and the beginning of high school is where I wanted to more actively be doing more for people. I took a huge interest in world history at this time, and it still is one of my most favorite subjects (along with science). History helped me to realize patterns, to understand politics a bit more, and more importantly to understand people. I became a big supporter in lgbtq+ community, women's rights and gender equity, mental health awareness, human welfare and other social reforms. I joined groups in my high school and outside opportunities revolving around topics such as homelessness, mental health, and environment. I wanted to keep educating myself and others in my community about issues that are consistently being ignored and are becoming an even bigger problem for many, including myself.
I knew that I didn’t want to go to college right away if I could find a program that would help me go abroad. That's when I started my search again, and I found GCY. I just had a feeling that this was it, I needed to be a part of this. So I applied and I got in. I worked really hard to get the scholarship and I did. I didn’t give up on my visa process and I finally got permission to go a month after the program had started. With all this said, as soon as I got to India, I questioned what it was that brought me all the way on the other side of the world. Was it the GCY mission? The fact that I had grown so passionately about global issues? The yearn for something new?
It was probably all of that, but for some reason I don’t feel accomplished. I’m glad I took this opportunity no doubt, and I think I did grow in some ways but I think there's something missing. I’d like to think the reason for this is because I didn’t come here for a simple fix, and that my own personal mission is so much more than a 7 month gap year in a foreign country. GCY had opened the doors for me, had given me a taste of what could be, but it’s not in any way the end. I am incredibly grateful for everything that was, and this is truly just the beginning.