I Am Connected

Jaime Givens - India


March 12, 2019

[image: image.png]
*Courtesy of Tisch College*

One of the biggest worries that I had coming into this year abroad in
Hyderabad, India was not making connections to the people around me. For
one, I couldn’t speak Hindi or Telugu (the state language of Telangana). I
stuck out like a sore-thumb due to my big, curly hair. Everything about me
screamed “tourist.” Because I was new, I did not understand the community
that I had just been privileged enough to be invited into. I was afraid
that I would keep myself in a tight, closed off bubble for the entire year.
I realize, now, that that worry couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Recently, during an in-country learning seminar in Meghalaya
(located in the North-East of India), I created a list of people who had
been kind to me. At first, I couldn’t think of anyone outside of the people
closest to me. I was thinking about the big ways I’ve been show kindness
instead of the small ones. After writing one name, it was easy to remember
more. Here is my list:

the Old Woman I walk by everyday on the way to school who I smile at and
wave at even though we’ve never spoken a word to each other

the Local Shop Owner who sent His Son to walk home with me when the road
was blocked at night

the Auto Driver, Pandu, who calls me every once in a while to ask how I am

the Naan Shop Owner who helped me hail my first auto

the Kids who wrote me “Get Well Soon” cards when I fell sick

and many more.

After I finished writing my list, I felt overwhelmed by this sense of
connection. I have so many people in my life in Hyderabad that I have been
connected to through a smile, a drive, an act of kindness and it speaks
volumes about how beautiful the community I have been lucky enough to join
is.

That feeling of connectedness continued to present itself even after I
returned from my seminar. The inspiration from this post comes from a
moment I had with one of my students. He came up to me after I came back
from the learning seminar and said, “Didi, where were you? I was scared you
went to America!” all said with a worried expression and his hand on his
heart.

[image: image.png]
*Courtesy of Tisch College*


Jaime Givens