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Posts Tagged ‘travel life faith’

Sitting in a living room watching a family talk to each other. Talk over each other. Laugh with each other. We are the same. This could be Thanksgiving at my house, but it’s not. This is India.

I go to my company’s event. The main reason I came. The students want to take pictures of me. I’m teaching a workshop. The power goes out while everyone’s code is compiling. I’m nervous about getting off schedule. They’re calm. This is India.

Driving through the city to teach a class on embedded programming to professors and graduate students at a university. The cab I’m in has a trunk full of some of the world’s most cutting edge technology that I’ll use in my class. My taxi is dodging cows and dogs in the middle of the street while simultaneously trying to occupy the same space as 3 other cars. I’m watching people pump water into clay jugs through the window. This is India.

I walk into the room where my class will take place. The lab equipment predates my birth. The buildings look like things I’ve only seen on CNN. The class stands when I enter the room. The college gives me a gift and thanks me profusely for coming. The students are sharp. They ask good questions. They know their stuff. This is India.

That night a student emails me apologizing that his project that he showed me didn’t work. He promises to fix it. He’ll send me a video of it when he’s done. He’s thankful that I encouraged him. Did I encourage him? I hope so. This is India.

The next day I travel to a different university in a small town. We drive on a dirt road to get there. They give me a bouquet of flowers when I arrive and a gift when I leave. The professor wants to do robotics. They appreciate the technology I’m showing them. They are smart. They are innovative. This is India.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to put into words this experience. It’s extremes all the time. The well off and the desperately poor. The highly educated and the beggar on the street. The developed and the rural.  I’ve only experienced a small piece of this huge country. I’m certainly no expert. These are just my observations so far. Even though I’m not able to fully describe it or explain it, I’m thankful for it. I need India. We all need India.

India is described as a “developing country.” That means they’re making progress in terms of jobs, technology, and infrastructure. One day they will struggle less and be more comfortable. They will have more opportunities. I hope so. At the same time, though, there is so much to appreciate about India here and now. They have beautiful smiles. Beautiful children. Beautiful nature. They have a deep respect for anyone that is going to share information with them, for anyone that could help them.  For me, going to college was an expectation and I complained about the work I had to do. In India, they know it’s a gift. It is a gift for all of us who are blessed to go, but where I came from, I felt like it was just the next step. Perspective. Thank you, India.

I hate to admit it, but from time to time in my college career, I asked “why am I doing this?” Me going to college…that’s not changing the world.  I sometimes thought of college as getting in the way of my ambition.  I need to get on a plane. I need to go see people. I need to help them. My 20 year old brain found these thoughts to be noble, and the spirit of them is. I wanted to help people. That’s why I chose engineering. It’s a tangible way to help people, but up until this week, I had sat in an air-conditioned cube from 9-5, in a city people plan vacations to, making good money. I like my job. I like my life. But, I had always felt like I was missing the biggest piece. Helping people. How could I help people?

This week , as I was driving to give one of the 4 sessions I gave on embedded programming and we were dodging cows and watching people pump water, my first thought was “who the hell needs embedded programming? There are bigger problems here. Stop the cab. I need to get out and feed these people!”  I couldn’t say that. So, I didn’t, and I went on to teach embedded programming. At that point it all started coming together. Feeding the poor right now will help today, but teaching these skills will change the future. These engineers can contribute to their economy with these skills. They can change the world.

When you talk to an Indian about an accomplishment they have had or benefit they have received, they will say it is “god’s grace.”  While I might not be talking about the same god or gods, I agree. It is by “God’s grace” that I got to come to India. It was a privilege. Or, as they would say, a pleasure. Thank you God for anything You let me contribute to India. I can’t be the same after India. This isn’t an expression of pity, but of revelation. Beautiful clothes. Wonderful food. Developing . Stagnant. Beautiful. Dirty. It all comes together in India. And somehow, it works.

Thank you, India. Thank you for welcoming me. For teaching me. For not letting me be the same. For challenging me. For humbling me. Thank you for the tears. Thank you for laughter. Thank you for letting me go home ever more grateful. Thank you for letting me go home excited for you. For your potential. For your culture and talent. You are amazing, India. And if by God’s grace I get to help you along, the pleasure is mine.  I hope I see you again.

“I am on a plane

Across a distant sea,

But I carry you in me

And in the dust on my feet.

Now that I have seen,

I am responsible.

Faith without deeds is dead.”

-Brooke Fraser

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