Emotional Adventures Milana Venegoni India Blog 1

Milana Venegoni - India


August 30, 2019

I have made several different stories all with wildly different perspectives in the days that I have been on this campus. I have written at my highest highs and my lowest lows and I am currently speaking from a place of great emotional upheaval (What else is new?). There are so many different feelings I have had within the past couple of days that I feel like it would be inaccurate and incorrect to show one. Because of this this one blog is now a collection of several blogs I have created but have not been able to finish because of the emotions I have had have changed so frequently that it would be ungenuine to finish them in the same tone, style, and transitions that I encompass as I write my emotionally pulled into one direction at a time soul onto a document. Each section will be in chronological order.

Enjoy.

August 12th 2019

Walking Through What I’ll Miss

     There is something unnerving about leaving my family for 8 months. The home I live in now was never meant to be a permanent place nor did I think it would be, but the people that I am leaving have been the biggest and arguably the only constant in my incredibly long, inescapably lengthy, practically one foot in the grave 18 years of life. They’ll still be there in India with me, just not physically. In my life I have adopted pieces of them as they have adopted pieces of me. I recognize that the voice that comes out when demanding respect is reminiscent of my mother’s rants when faced with an unjust situation and I have also noticed that the pride and courage I have that is now sourced from within has been seeped into my body over the years by parents who believe that I should strive for success through joy. I have more support from my family than most others going on this trip with me and I don’t think I would be going to India if my parents weren’t supportive. They have a bigger impact on me than I will ever openly admit (don’t tell them I said that they’ll get a big head and I’ll lose my reputation as the coolest person in the house) and I am thankful that their impact has been used for my benefit.

     I have never been able to hate this country the way others do. I have never had an internal rage at this country or a desire that I did not live in the United States. I love this country because I have seen and lived and breathed in the air of this country. I know how deep hate is rooted in this nation because I have lived in almost every part of this nation and I know how people think. My family in the backroads of Missouri do not care about anything other than their small community because they community is all they have. In California the global outreach has come from a place of deep rooted internal isolation that has manifested into a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. There is not a good in America that the other side does not see as bad but the balance of the two has created a place where I want to cry every time I see an aspen grove preserved by those who would let their blood water the forest they have protected or whenever I look at the flashing lights of a city that we have created from a perceived nothing. Other countries do not have the idea of the American Dream but to me the America I live in now is the dream that has been made through lifetimes of dreamers working to achieve a world they are proud to call home. I will miss the pride and hope in America that is profoundly in the American psyche the way no other country’s population has. 

     I’ll miss my room. 18 years of personality has accumulated into a pseudo Hamptons but California by the Ocean but not Really that is defined as nothing other than my essence as a room. People like to say that your home reflects who you are but my room, a smaller, more personal space, has always been a symbolic me. I think I will have trouble leaving something that I have made into an extension of myself. The Yoshi (my old dog not the Mario character) statue is the hardest thing to not take with me. It’s been my protective amulet that has been loved and cherished since I got it in Chinatown when I was seven. I’ll also miss the curtains that were given to me when my grandmother passed away. They belonged to her and I will miss waking up and seeing their floral pattern that screams “a grandma bought these.” I do not know what else I will miss from my from because I have never been separated from my room for longer than 6 months. I do not know what things I have collected and added to that will become the thing I remember the most.

     I do not think I will miss my friends. There will be times where I will think about them but I am glad that I will have a new community to share this experience with me. My friends would not enjoy the trip as much as I would and they are not prepared for something like this. There is no sadness in leaving them to have their own opportunities and I do not mean that out of anger or bitterness. They have a separate life from mine and they need to live their life. My relationships are temporary as all things are and to move on is part of the human experience. I will not miss my friends.

     I will miss my father and mother’s cooking. I live in a house that is founded from parents who have lived and been raised in households where food was the family business for several years and I have grown up with better than restaurant quality Italian food that I know I will miss when I start crying because no one makes garlic bread the right way.

     Finally, I believe I will miss wondering. There are infinite possibilities and infinite things that can happen while I am in India, but I know that when I get there I won’t have to guess or think about what I will do. Instead I can experience it for the first time. This is the first and last time I will have this moment to experience Pune the way that I will now. I plan on taking every bit of what I can and I’ll use it when I’m on my next adventure.

August 28th

Have you ever gone somewhere and realized it’s the complete opposite of what you expected? 

When I read the bios of the GCY fellows I thought, “Man, am I going to be surrounded by a bunch of nerds who know five languages and all they do is talk about their travels around the world to help aid disabled Asian African pregnant grandmas from war torn areas who are also poor with a charity that they themselves have founded and been running for years?” The answer to that question, my dear readers, is yes. Well, no. Kinda.

There is without a doubt that these fellows that I have lived with for such a short tine are some of the most intelligent and motivated people my age with the added bonus of having personalities. Smart and know that robotics jargon is not the inside joke tech people think it is? Ladies, some of them are single!

When I got off of the plane at SFO I remember lugging my suitcase around for ages until I finally, in my sweat soaked glory, saw Rocío, who is much shorter than I expected. Honestly, everyone’s height has been a surprise. You see someone’s face and shoulders and think one thing, but the second you are one of the shortest people there at a minuscule 5’7” you start to reevaluate the group you are with. 

Anyway, I saw Claire and introduced myself and then I met Rocío there, clipboard in hand with a smile on her face and had never felt more disgusting in my life. Here I am looking like a drowned, harassed rat, I am sleep deprived and am on my fourth sports drink of the day, I just power cried in the SFO bathroom not 15 minutes earlier, threw out my arm while lugging my stuff, and now they want me, who has been through all of this in a span of 30 minutes, to start a conversation with the uncomfortably silent group of strangers waiting for the bus in the Terminal Three United Baggage Check in the San Francisco International Airport. 

So it’s off to a great start. 

We board the bus and I meet Lara, another fellow going to India. We sit together while we talk about America and how the suburbs are not a thing in her home country of Costa Rica since it is by definition a still developing nation. I did not expect that suburbia, an integral part of my life, would be a new concept to those who do not live life in my country. There are a lot of things that you recognize as a person who is invested in world events and daily life but it doesn’t really sink in unless you hear or experience what someone else’s version of normal is until they say it straight to you. I realized then and there that there would be a very distinct difference between the fellows from the United States and the fellows from around the world. I keep on having to guesstimate Celsius numbers based on what I’ve seen in my past. The Americans who didn’t think about that are in for a surprise when they go to their host country. 

As I left the bus I finally met face to face the people I wanted to meet the most and I was lead to my keys and dining hall pass and went to my dorm, Room 207 on the second floor of Crothers. It’s been hectic bliss since.

It’s only the third day and already we’ve already received a formal noise complaint from the same people who are blasting music outside of my dorm room as I type, had possibly the most intense game of uno I have ever been witness to and I’ve cried about 37 times, half of those sob sessions in airport bathroom stalls. I also met Maryam and to my utter horror the bag of my gift I gave her had RIPPED a little while on the trip from Tucson to SFO so I had to gift her her gift from my family and I like an absolute heathen. She is wonderful (of course) and deserves a salary raise (not paid for by Maryam she’s just the reason I’m even typing this blog). 

Unrelated: Future fellows who might be reading this, a good relationship with the staff of GCY before you get here is really important. Please do not let your mother scream at the people giving you 30k in financial aid when you did not apply for your visa earlier than you did and that’s why your visa is delayed. Tell your relatives to instead yell at their local grocery store clerk in the pursuit of supporting small local businesses where they can release all that aggression that built up in their bikhram yoga class to some poor grad student who majored in communications or political science. Be kind.

August 29th 2019

There is an incessant loneliness I feel admist the 160 people I must pretend I know in a cohort that I feel underqualified and underprepared for. These people have done things that outshine, outsmart, and outlast my very small achievements in life and I could say that my achievements have outshone others in the way mine were. I feel average in this group of very unaverage people and it does not bring me comfort but it does bring me many mixed emotions. I feel happy in that I am with a group who understands the things I have done and I feel as if I am with a group that I can connect with, but I feel dispondent and upset and thrown for a loop that I am with a group so equal and yet so untrustworthy and so alien to myself in the way that I do not know these people and I am supposed to rely on them and put my life in their hands. I would not take a bullet for them and they would certainly not take a bullet for me. 

I do not want to put my trust into anyone here, but what else do I have? My family is not here and I don’t feel safe by myself. These are not the people I want to put my love in, my time in, my passions in. I do not know them, therefore they are unsafe.

I have been practicing all summer as hard as I can daily and I barely know Hindi. I recognized a single character and others were able to translate with a slight struggle but with relative ease compared to the rest of the group. Spanish came easy to me. French did not. Hindi did not. I am wondering if I deserve the privilege of learning another language or if I am going to butcher it the way I did French. I wonder if I will learn Hindi, but then have gaps in my knowledge needed to progress into more than choppy formal conversations about planes and the weather like I have with Spanish. 

Maybe I might be acting a little dramatic.

Milana Venegoni