Monday, July 13, 2009

Posting by Hannah Wilson
I've been walking down the streets, through the temple, the church, and staring out the bus windows at a million faces. They are all staring back at me. We look so different; our skin, our facial structures, our clothes, our jewelry, and our hair. We speak such different languages and even our body language is dissimilar. We live on opposite sides of the world that right now seem far more opposing than similar. It's only been a few days but I feel like there is a thick and vast wall between me and the people of India. I want to break it down, to get to know them, to understand them, to find all the ways that we are the same. I just don't know how or where to begin and I want so badly to find out.
Today though, we visited three internship sites bustling with children. Instantly the children were smiling, giggling, and waving. The "Hello"s and "Good Morning"s were abundant and balls were kicked our way for us to kick back in a game of pass. I did not feel like an American surrounded by Indians, I felt like a human surrounded by energetic, beautiful children who were eager to connect, play, and be together. I felt no barriers. What happens between childhood and adulthood that builds these walls? How do we even begin to break them down?
Starting today, a student will write about his or her experience for this blog.
Posting by Martina Martin
Black Like Me
She was the first person that greeted us when we arrived at the Temple. Somewhat bewildered at the prospect of walking barefoot along the hot, glass strewn pavement, her wide grin was a welcome sight. "50 rupees" she exclaimed, as she quietly exchanged our currency for baskets filled with offering flowers. As the group wound its way along the narrow corridors of the "Ohm" shaped temple, she followed closely behind. It was not long, however, before her curiosity got the best of her. Using what English she knew, and unbeknownst to me, she inquired among my colleagues, "How did she get her hair like that?" gesturing towards my palm-rolled locs. "Oh, she probably twists it," replied a classmate. With my ears burning, I turned in the direction of the conversation as the temple girl whizzed by to offer assistance to one of our guides. "She was really interested in your hair, but was afraid to approach you directly because she said your face seemed stern," replied another classmate. "Really?" I thought aloud, "Me, stern?" As I considered the girl's perception of me, I was reminded of a poem by Maya Angelou entitled, "Human Family" which declares that in spite of obvious racial, ethnic and cultural differences, people share more similarities than differences. Watching the girl from afar, I began to see parts of myself in her. In addition to sharing the same black skin, I realized that we also shared the same level of respect and consideration for the feelings of others. Given the sincerity of her interest, I invited her to touch my hair. "Wow!" she exclaimed with bright eyes and a bubbly laugh. Fascinated by the differences in our hair texture, she proceeded to style my hair--ultimately adorning it with a single red rose from my offering basket. We posed for a picture together and shared pleasantries before parting ways. As I boarded the bus I came to realize that in spite of hailing from different parts of the world, we really were more alike, than we were unalike.