India was an experience I will always hold dear. Words are difficult to find to describe how it affected me. I still pause to answer the question, what was India like? It was a wonderful time. I didn’t mind the heat. I accepted the air pollution that made me sick to my stomach. I just made sure to keep my mouth covered when driving around Chennai. The food was not something I always liked, but again, I accepted that fact. This was a trip of a lifetime—to see the extraordinary country of India in ways the regular tourist would never dream of. I didn’t waste energy on complaining about things I didn’t like. I took in ever sight, sound, and smell; hoping to never forget.
A woman we met said that what we hear about India is true, as well as the opposite. I experienced the geographical fact of that statement in Tamilnadu with the flat, hot area, as well as the mountainous, cool area. I saw extreme poverty and wealth. I saw tourists observe the surface of India, while we experienced the depth of India.
I learned so much from that great country. I try to convey that to my students. Just because it is considered a third world country does not mean that we, in the United States, cannot learn volumes from the people there. When I do my unit on water scarcity, I now have my students come up with ways to solve the problem of not having enough water. I wait to see if anyone comes up with a system they have been using in India for decades. I have them wash their lunch dishes in one bucket of water that needs to remain clean, like we experienced at the Gandhi Institute in Madurai. It was one experience after another that I had, that I now teach. I try to take my students to India, so they may experience it, so they feel if though they have been to India.
Would I go back to India? Another popular question asked. The answer is always yes, in a heartbeat. My thought is why someone would not want to go. One should not judge a place unless they have been there and experienced it. Many people asked why I would ever want to go to India, as though it is a horrible place. It was my experience to find a wonderful, fascinating country.
Sara teaches middle school.
Go to Sara’s lesson plans (Middle Level+)