"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
We Shall Not Cease, from (Little Gidding) - T.S. Elliot
"How was India?"
"What was difficult about the experience?"
In a few days, I will be returning to the U.S. and will undoubtedly be asked these questions and, truthfully, I am unsure about how to answer them truthfully. This journey has been more than just the two weeks spent with the SU2I team in July, but rather a process that has slowly unfolded over the past year.
My journey with CLP began one day in October 2010 when I received an email advertising about the opportunity to intern with a local non-profit organization. Having just returned from a year studying abroad, I was itching to attach myself to something in order to give some sense of routine in a hectic point of my life. I remembered seeing Samantha give a presentation to a class I was in two years prior just as she had begun CLP and felt that maybe it would be a good experience for my senior year. Little did I know how much CLP and everyone in it would change my life for the better.
From the beginning, I was interested in being part of the Send US to India coordinating team because it bridged the gap between both CLP USA and TYCL. With Samantha and Serkadis as partners, we embarked on a journey to realize our vision of seeing local Riverside high school students traveling to India and sharing their experiences as youth leaders while learning from their brothers and sisters.
To do this, we (with the support and love of countless family members, organizations, community members, friends, and neighborhoods) managed to fundraise $24,000 to support the youth on their journey. From January to June 2011, everyone in CLP and beyond worked tirelessly to fundraise, spread awareness, and prepare for the trip. For the last seven months, mentors and supporters in the U.S. and India have worked constantly, struggled, laughed, learned, and loved to make SU2I possible. Now, at the end of my journey, I can only wonder in amazement at this experience. No words or pictures could do it justice.
While on a trip through Munnar and its beautiful greenery, I was hit by a wave of emotions that made me tear up. Here I was traveling in India through the most beautiful place I have ever set eyes on. Here I was having the amazing experience in India and feeling intense gratitude for everyone that supported us throughout it all. Here I was about to move on from this moment in my life. These last seven months have been truly... awe inspiring if nothing else.
Thank you CLP and SU2I 2011 supporters. Thank you mentors and youth. Thank you India. I will see you again.
With love, gratitude, and blessings,