on people.3:36:00 PM
On Friday I was lucky enough to present my India research at a conference on campus. In the course of preparing my presentation I was able to sort of re-live a lot of those moments that I experienced throughout my research. I read through my paper and looked through a million pictures and realized all over again how grateful I am for my sweet husband and my lovely family and for the life that we have here. When we got back from India everybody asked us if we felt our experience had been life-changing. I, of course, would say 'yes,' but it wasn't life changing in the way that they were thinking. Seeing poverty and sickness and deformity is nothing short of heartbreaking but at the end of the day, those things aren't unique to India. Certainly I came home with a greater appreciation of material things I often take for granted, but that faded and I quickly became re-accustomed to toilet paper, hot showers, ice cream and jeans. What really changed me, and what I am convinced changes anybody who travels beyond the walls of their home, is the opportunity I had to meet exceptional people. I'm a big advocate of traveling, I think there is a lot of value in experiencing other cultures. Ultimately, though, I also believe that the 80 year old man down the street has fascinating and tragic stories to tell, but that we often forget to ask him because he isn't exotic or inaccessible. So while India is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, it isn't because I now know that poverty exists or that a lot of people have it much harder than I do - I already knew that. India is dear to me because it is where I found a wonderful and fascinating cluster of people that I grew to love; the most important of those people being my sweet husband who I love and adore. For that, I am indebted to India. But I am also indebted to any other place I have visited or will visit - because each new place presents a new cluster of wonderful and sweet people who are worth knowing.