Wanda Schlumpf - India

November 14, 2018

*Aibohphobia – The Fear of Palindromes*

आगे और पीछे की तरफ

Forward & Backward

Tomorrow they will learn

I couldn’t teach them, but

They told me it was likely

I believed them when

In the beginning

I had no hope

Feeling lost

I am not


I am

Disconnected from my roots and

I have never felt so alone

I am not brave.

Don’t tell me

I can help.

I believe

The world is bigger than anything I am capable of but

I won’t think it impossible to change anything

Read this poem again, but from bottom to top this time.

The beginning of my fellowship reads from top to bottom. The beginning is
hard, as I’m sure all new beginnings are. I’ve moved across the United
States, switched schools in the middle of high school, lived with multiple
families and none of those new beginnings prepared me for the difficulty
that was this one. I think most people’s recollections of their gap years
are romanticized in a way or perhaps they are just not designed the way
that Tufts’ is. Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful, incredible moments
that I will cherish forever, but getting there is a struggle. I’ve been in
country for about three months now and I am only now able to say I am
completely comfortable in my surroundings. Initial immersions is top to
bottom. Everyone’s probably is, especially at the start of their
apprenticeships and *especially* when teaching kids who don’t speak

As of current, November 14th, my fellowship reads from bottom to top. I
couldn’t be happier here in India and wouldn’t want to be anyplace else in
the world. This sounds cliché, but it is 100% authentic. I have learned
more about myself these past three months than in my past 18 years and have
broken down a lot of walls I had built up before coming. I have made
life-long friends and formed relationships that have not only created
opportunities for exponential self-growth, but also security in my roles in
work, society, and who I am in general. My Hindi is also improving
everyday! In the beginning I would skip Hindi classes because I told myself
it was impossible and I would never, ever be able to understand this
complex language. However, once I shifted my perspective and put in active
work, I’m getting pretty damn good. I can’t reiterate it enough when I say
my mental state has increased tenfold, I am the healthiest I have ever been
and not only do I notice this change, but so do my support systems around
me. I am happy.

Wanda Schlumpf