Time Capsule Letter
I will never forget our incredible time together in India. I have missed the fresh Roti in the mornings and midday chai tea. It seems not long ago that we were playing badminton and Indian games in the grass fields of Pushkar. We miss taking yoga and dance classes from Pooja and being teased daily by Mahesh. It was fun to have such a close knit group, with a great sense of humor.
Remember all of the adventures and amazing sights we got to see. During our trip, Jaipur, ‘the Pink City,’ was named a UNESCO world heritage sight. We marveled in awe at the sundials in Jantar Mantar, the courtyards in city palace, and the grand white temple in Birla Mindar.
I will never forget our incredible camel ride under the sunset and dancing around the campfire in the Pushkar desert. We then ended our trip with the breathtaking views of the Taj Mahal. These memories will last us a lifetime.
The work you did at all three service sights have left a lasting impact. The garden you planted and the murals you painted at the orphanage has created a healthier environment for the boy’s home. At the orphanage the children continue to meditate and do yoga under the logo, be the change.
In just a few short days we transformed the walls of Pushkar and Jaipur schools into an inviting space for the children. The murals you painted will spark their imaginations and remind them of important lessons such as caring for the earth and each other (murals included: trees and flowers, save earth, and caterpillars).
More importantly, the lessons we learned from the school’s leaders will forever leave an impact on our hearts and change our perception of leadership. Sushila taught us that all people have the right to lead a dignified life, regardless of the circumstances in which they were born into.
She wanted to end the stigma about children born with HIV/Aids. Mr. Kamal fought for all students to access an equal education by giving them the same knowledge and resources that wealthier schools have.
Remember our discussion about ‘the danger of a single story?’ As a group we promised to be conscientious about the assumptions we make towards other people and communities. From the experiences we’ve shared, there is no doubt that you have a multifaceted perspective of India. We heard stories of love and compassion in the face of obstacles.
The Jaipur foot organization provided free prosthetics to people with physical disabilities. Shereos is a restaurant with the mission to promote awareness about acid attacks and create a strong community amongst survivors. All of these examples show the ability that individuals have to make an impact in their communities.
As our end of the summer goal, we agreed to become involved in helping others in our local communities whether that is cleaning the neighborhood or providing meals to the homeless. Remember to share your stories with GLA, we would love to hear the ways in which you have become a leader in your community.
Remember ‘All is Well’
With Much Love
Tyler and Vaila
Monday July 1, 2019
We have all landed safely here in the magical pink city of Jaipur. We had an unorthodox start to due to one airline going bust but we are together now and ready to start our Indian adventure!
Students trickled in during arrival day and settled in to our homely Sun Deck Hostel, and there really is a pristine white sun deck overlooking a rare lush green park across the street. Yes, the beep beep beeping of a large Indian city is there, but the street below is lined with neem trees. We will be taking advantage of the garden for yoga and other outdoor activities.
After our first Indian breakfast together, we embarked on a full day of orientation led by local and international staff. Our students are inquisitive, eager and full of excitement for the journey ahead, both the outward and inward. We are thankful to be here together and in celebration of our first day, we had dinner at Jawahar Kala Kendra which is a centre for art, culture & theatre in Jaipur.
What more can I say? We are all full of anticipation to start service work at the orphanage tomorrow. Words and reflections from tomorrow will be brought to you by Anna and Andrew, our very first Leaders of the Day.
Best wishes from your GLA international staff Vaila, Tyler & Jenica
Missing from photo due to late arrival: Julien and Emile Filion
Tuesday July 3, 2019
Today we woke up nice and early to go to Delhi Public School. At the school we learned how to play cricket with the coach. Not all of us were very good at cricket because it took a lot of coordination. We then took a tour of the school where we saw classrooms and learned about their various electives like music and dance. After that we tried on turbans and Saris and got henna tattoos.
After visiting the school, we went to an orphanage for young boys. At the orphanage we learned how HIV and AIDS is a stigma and causes discrimination. We then ate lunch at the orphanage and took a tour around the places we would be working on the next few days. We decided to paint one large mural and work on the garden. After a very busy day we came back to home base and had spicy chicken, rice, and chapati.Then we had mentor groups and wrapped up the day. We are excited for tomorrow!!
– Written by Andrew and Anna
Thursday July 4, 2019
Day 3 started with a 6 am wake up call for morning yoga on the balcony. After this session and a filling breakfast at the Aashray orphanage, we began our long day of service, which included gardening as well as designing and painting a mural. After a productive (and hot) day of work, we got to spend some time with the kids, which was one of the highlights of our day as a group. We had another delicious meal at the service site (which included rice pudding- a fan favourite) before heading back to home base for a second Hindi lesson from Pooja.
Afterwards, our hostel hosts provided us with a filling (and spicy!) dinner. Later in the evening, we went out to a local market to grab some snacks for the upcoming week. We are excited to continue our mural and spend more time with the kids at the orphanage in the next few days of service in Jaipur. Overall, it was a cooler day for India, but we were still tired and sweaty after service. We’ve come to realize how important hospitality is to the people of India, as everywhere we go we are met with smiling faces and endless amounts of roti bread 🙂
-By Elizabeth Schmitz and Hadley Goodin
Friday July 5, 2019
July 5th : We went to the orphanage to work on school beautification. I got the opportunity to sand, plaster, and paint the walls. I’ve never done these things before and so it was really neat both expanding my skillset and doing it for a good cause. As leader of the day I also got the opportunity to lead a group activity for both the boys of the orphanage and my fellow GLA companions. I decided to bring a little tang from home and introduce the most American thing I could think of. The Cha Cha Slide came alive within the orphanage walls and everyone had a blast. Bringing joy and seeing smiles all around the room made the day feel so productive and further fueled my passion for doing and becoming something bigger than myself. ~ Emilene Citone
At the orphanage I helped plaster and paint. The group got a lot done as our teamwork is strong. Later in the day everyone chatted about their experiences within the orphanage and what their favorite parts were. We also played two truths and a lie which helped us bond. My favorite part of the day was gathering around the sundeck with my peers and watching the sunset.
~ Viktoriya Angelova
Saturday July 6, 2019
Today was our last day at the orphanage. We finished up planting in the garden and painting our murals upstairs. After we were done, we had some time with the kids. We taught them some games like Duck Duck Goose and Sharks and Minnows and then played rock paper scissors and other hand games. Spending time with the kids and working at the orphanage has been an great experience. The kids and (workers or volunteers) are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and it’s been amazing working with and getting to know them over these past few days.
Today we had free time with the kids at the orphanage and we played little easy games and it made them so elated and us to. then we went to chokhi dhani. which is a recreation of traditional rajasthani villages. we had dinner there and it was so good. we saw elephants and camels there and magicians. also dancers that were beautiful and colorful. overall the days was full of loving characters.
Written by Eleanor and Abby
Sunday July 7, 2019
Today our group went to site see for the first time, celebrating our hard work from our service at the orphanage. First, we went to the Birla Mandir and climbed a lot of stairs to be greeted by a beautiful sight of the city. On the way there, we saw elephants, a snake charmer, a goat, camels, merchants and many other interesting things that made the journey less tiring. We had a tour guide named Iqbal, who was very knowledgeable about all the temples and every little corner of it.
It was very hot(as usual), so we drank a lot of water, while some of us bought ice cream at the end. Next, we went to the amber fort, which was a floating palace. It was very breathtaking to look at, and the cows were swimming in the water freely, which also added to the view. Though we only saw it for a little bit without actually going inside, it was definitely worth it to make the stop there. Lastly, we went to Asia’s largest roundabout called the Jal Mahal. It was very colorful and involved many pieces of art painted on the walls. It was very large to say the least, and some of us were not aware of the fact that we were inside of the roundabout, not witnessing it from the front.
Once we came back to home base, we packed our bags to get ready to go to Pushkar tomorrow, which we are all excited about(other than the fact that all 13 of the girls have to share a room together!) Today was very tiring but was very interesting to learn more about Jaipur’s rich history.
Salome and Niko 🙂
Monday July 8, 2019
Like yesterday, today was a continuation of sightseeing around Jaipur! We started off at Jantar Mantar, an UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest sundial. Our enthusiastic tour guide explained to us how the sundial worked, and we had no idea how interesting clocks could be! After, we visited the City Palace of Jaipur, where we saw traditional Jaipur attire and learned more about the royal family of Jaipur.
For lunch, we ate traditional North Indian cuisine, and began the drive to Pushkar. It was long, and the roads were quite bumpy, but once we got to our new beautiful home base we didn’t mind. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing volleyball and other backyard games before our first delicious meal in Pushkar. We can honestly say that we are so thrilled for the adventures that tomorrow promises!
-by Emile & Chloe
Tuesday July 9, 2019
On behalf of everyone here, first of all, hi mom and dad, I miss you!
Today we began volunteering at a new school and embarked on our second service activity of our India experience. If there was one word to describe the work, I’m sure you would all hope to hear “gratifying” but the truest word is “sweaty”. Even so, much was accomplished (painting doors, plastering walls, being offered a cricket game by some boys on the street) and the feeling of determination to finish the job and do it well was palpable throughout the day.
By the end of it, we were all more tired than we’ve been during this whole program, and the only thing on our minds was cool water, working fans, and mostly working showers. But sometimes the things that make us the most tired are also the things we will feel most proud of all said and done. All in all, today was challenging yes, sweaty yes, but indeed gratifying also, and we can’t wait to continue the work in the coming week while also experiencing the colorful small COW FILLED mountain town of Pushkar.
We ended the night after some rest and a good dinner by learning some traditional Indian dance moves as a nice treat after a long day. We can’t wait to see what other culturally educational, gratifying, and hopefully non sunburn inclusive adventures Puskar has in store for us tomorrow!
Piper & Juliette
Wednesday July 10, 2019
First of all, we had a Hindi lesson with Pooja from whom we learned phrases on how to bargain. After that lesson, we participated in a market challenge where we had a hundred rupees to buy as much food as possible ; the key definitely was bargaining. The group with the best quality and quantity won. After lunch, we had service at the girls’ school where we finished plastering the walls its common area. When we came back at the hostel, we had dinner and we played a couple games to get to know each other better.
During another activity, we learned the difference between volunteering and voluntourism. Volunteering is helping the community in a way that is needed while voluntourism is doing it more for yourself than the community. So today was a very educational and fulfilling day.
By Eleanor and Julien
Thursday July 11, 2019
Today we woke up early and began the day with yoga at 6:30. Shout out to Pooja for being such an enthusiastic instructor. This was a pretty early awakening for everybody but stretching aligned our chakras and energized us to start another day of activities. After breakfast, we did a simulation similar to Model UN where we discussed women’s rights issues within Guatemala. The activity was very intense at some points as each group held valid opinions, but in the end, we realized that you must remain open minded and respectful regarding all people’s beliefs and values. Compromise ensures change.
Lunch was a tasty selection of pasta, rice, and roti. In the afternoon we returned to our service project at the local school in Pushkar. On our way, we spotted a wild tourist in her natural habitat (peep Anna)! Today was a very productive day, and it is so rewarding to see the inside of the school transform to be brighter and more colorful. We began drawing and painting quotes, flowers, ABC’s, etc.
Rahul and Pooja our local directors are very artistically talented, and so with their help our paintings flourished. Our secret ingredient to success allowing us the motivation to paint are our insane DJ skills. Everyone busted down to Despacito thus permitting us all to get a good groove in place. With the help of our good music, chai tea, pineapple juice, and lots of laughs, everyone remained lively and motivated. We are all working hard to make a positive change for the students at the school.
It is hard to grasp that tomorrow will be our last day of service at this school, but I think we will all be amazed by the final product. All of us have definitely put our hard work, creativity, and effort into making the school a safer/optimistic learning environment. These kids deserve the best and that is what we wish to accomplish. We wrapped up the day by shouting out affirmations and playing quite an intense game of lock and key (aka Indian tag). We are all anticipating each day ahead of us as a new adventure is soon to begin.
– Renee Dubaich and Emilene Citone
Saturday July 13, 2019
Today we woke up to an amazing view of the Rajasthani desert, where we camped out the night before. For breakfast, we tried rose milk for the first time, which was an interesting experience. For the rest of the morning, we journeyed back to Pushkar, where we were forced to say goodbye to our new single-humped friends (camels) . Once we arrived back at the hostel, we ate our last meal in Pushkar. Afterwards, we meandered through the street market and purchased souvenirs for ourselves and loved ones. After our last adventure in Pushkar, we packed our bags and headed for the hostel back in Jaipur.
While the bus ride was long, we were able to see rural India from a new perspective, and the ice cream break made it even better. By the time we got back to the hostel back at Jaipur, we were welcomed home with a scrumptious meal prepared by our wonderful host family. Since most people were tired, we just hung out for a bit, so that we could have enough energy for our exciting day tomorrow!
Niko & Chloe 😊
Sunday July 14, 2019
Today was exciting, we toured Pushkar. First, we went to the school where we were doing our service project the past few days and met the children. Then we went to Lake Pushkar, where we were blessed and made wishes. After that, we walked through the markets to finish our walk at the Brahma Temple. It is the only temple for Lord Brahma in India. Then, we headed back to our homebase for lunch.
After lunch, we took a cable car to the top of a mountain where we visited Savatri temple and where we could have a great view on the whole city of Pushkar. After that, we departed off onto our camel safari! We took a stop halfway through the ride to watch the beautiful sunset. When we got to our camping site, we were greeted by traditional dancers, a man who ate fire and lots of stars. We all headed to bed early, since some wanted to watch the sunrise.
By Anna and Emile
Monday July 15, 2019
Today was our first day back in Jaipur. We woke up to mild slightly breezy weather. Breakfast was good, some homey cornflakes, papaya and eggs. We then participated in an activity based on the Ted Talk “the Danger of a Single Story” by Chimimanda Adiche (found on YouTube) where we presented a single photo that we had taken on our trip and examined the stereotypes which that photo either presented or broke, and how each of us had preconceived notions of the country we were visiting. It was an eye opening talk that let all of us further explore our roles as westerners on a global stage.
Next, we left for service after lunch. We visited a new school, where we were able to say hello to some of the students as they left for home and begin working on the beautification of the edifice of the building. We hope tomorrow we can get even more good work done, and learn as much about this beautiful country. Till next time,
Julien and Piper 🙂
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Welcome everyone to another blog about a day in India! Today we started with breakfast and right after we got to learn about Indian festivals from Manesh. Then we went straight to the Jaipur Foot Organization where they make/provide prosthetics for anyone who needs them. We got to tour the work space and how the prosthetics are created and used by patients.
Then it was lunch time, we went to a cafe that we ate at before on our trip. We had delicious milkshakes! Finally we got back to our service site and worked on painting the walls of the school. When we were done, we were exhausted as usual, but we are so proud of what we accomplished! Then we went back to the hostel and ate dinner. Then us, being leaders of the day, got to go on a shopping trip to big bazaar with mahesh and rahul to get snacks for the group. We had a blast, we definitely put a dent in rahuls credit card. We jammed to Indian rap in rahuls nice car (Manesh can sing really well).
While we were on our shopping trip, the rest of the group did a leadership activity about our goals of when we return home. Once we got back, everyone was excited to finally get their snacks. Shoutout to Mahesh and rahul for being such cool dudes! Then as usual, we all got a good nights rest, ready to refuel for what the next day brings us.
-by Salome and Renee
Wednesday July 17, 2019
We started the day off by waking up. We got onto the bus and made our way to a handcrafted printing press, where we got to view the process of making hand presses. Afterwards we got a chance to purchase some beautifully magnificent prints that were on bags, books, etc. Then, we went to the factory where they created different types of paper objects. We saw a sneak peak of soon to be released Christmas bags that will be sold in your local Walmarts this upcoming November.
We got back onto the bus and arrived at our service site for the last time. Everyone continued their tasks and worked very hard for many hours straight. Some painted doors, some painted windows, and others started working on murals for the children. We ended our day off by listening to our local directors about India’s caste system. It was very informative. We are excited to have a day full of treats tomorrow. See you soon loving parents!
-Viktoriya and Sonic!! (Wife and husband from the mock-Indian wedding)
Friday July 19, 2019
We started off the day today with breakfast at the hostel. Next, we went back to the school where we have been working the past few days to meet and spend time with the students and staff members. We went out for pizza at dominoes for lunch. Then, we went to the movie theater to see a Bollywood movie called “Super 30.” It is based on a true story about a man who provided free preparation for underprivileged students taking engineering entrance exams; it was very interesting!
Then we made our way to a sari shop! It was very fun, a few people bought some. Others that didn’t go to by saris took a stroll on the pink city streets looking at other souvenirs. We then as a group made our way to a Brahmin family’s home. The Brahmin is the highest caste in the Indian caste system. They fed us a delicious meal, taught us about the Brahmin community and most favorites was they turned music on and we danced! We ended the night late back at the hostel, preparing for our last adventure to Agra.
Abby and Ellie 😄
On our second to last night in India, we had an amazing dinner at a cafe in Agra that employs victims of acid attacks. The story of the organization was beautiful, and we were so grateful to be able to learn about the wonderful things it does to empower its employees and other women.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early, but for a good reason: to see the Taj Mahal! It was an experience like no other, and our well-informed tour guide explained the tragic love story that spawned its creation.
After the drive back to Agra, we watched a slideshow that made us both laugh and cry, and then we dressed up for our last dinner together.
It was hard to say goodbye to all of our friends, but it was wonderful to reminisce over the last few weeks in India. We’re sad to leave, but are so grateful to be able to have these memories for the rest of our lives.
-by Piper & Chloe