So, the class has ended and eight of us returned back to the US, the other ten are continuing their journeys in India. Just as we dealt with culture shock on our arrival in India, I find I am now dealing with reverse culture shock upon our return. The streets are surprisingly quiet--no constant honking horns, crowing roosters, barking dogs, scooters scootering, people calling. But, strangely our restaurants are louder--noisy pop music and people effusively talking. The other unexpected aspect is all the "scantily" clad people. We returned to DC in the midst of a heat wave and everyone is naturally in shorts and spaghetti strap shirts attempting to stay cool. However, for three weeks all of us have worn loose, long sleeves and pants and draping scarves as Chennai is very conservative and the clothing protects you from the hot sun, pollution, and stares and gives us the impression that we are blending in. :)
During the final days in India, we completed our art/journaling ritual which we did each evening (see photo of covered door), created chalk art which covered the roof of our B & B, participated in our final cultural self-awareness ritual stating what we would like to let go of and take with us, and had a celebratory farewell dinner. While it is always lovely to return home, what I will miss the most is creating art together and reflecting on the day as a group and connecting with students on a deeper level and witnessing their outward- and self-awareness increase with each new experience. Each of us has grown and stretched, learning from cultural experiences and from each other. While the whole purpose of this course is to increase self-awareness, knowledge and skills, what I love about this course is the development as more empathic, aware, and culturally conscious humans--as a professor, what more could you ask for?