Nadia Pak ’10
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan/ Raymore, MO
Monsoon, yoga, Ghandi, curry and spicy foods, 200% humidity level, monkeys walking in the city center, elephants, holy cows in the middle of highway roads, festivals, spontaneous temples, Taj Mahal, basmati rice, unbelievable traffic, riksha taxi, and henna paintings – all are the colors of incredible India I will always keep in my heart and my memory. I have been trying to collect all of these colors to draw a picture but it turned out to be not enough for a good painting. I definitely need to be back to collect more…
The richest culture, and at the same time, one of the strongest examples of vivid factors of incredible social stratification makes India a place to be constantly exploring and never getting the answers to all questions. Mahatma Ghandi treated India as a female, a soul, so softly calling India a SHE. No words can describe it, one just must see HER.
Before my FLEX life, all the images of the world were introduced through movies, pictures and words of those who had a chance to go abroad. Stereotypes constructed perception of different life styles, culture and traditions. I am grateful to the FLEX program, just as hundreds of others are, because one of the millions of amazing things FLEX gave me is the eternal desire to learn, experience and understand other cultures and lifestyles. FLEX breaks the borders: stereotypical, personal and geographical.
India wasn’t my dream place, however, I just felt I needed to go there. No expectations, better not to expect a single thing because India is the place where the rule – EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – works like clockwork!
I have a thick diary book of events in my head. I would like to share some of them. My most memorable experience was my volunteer time at Khushi Rainbow School for street children.
This is where……….
…………EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED……… begins…..
I went to India on an AIESEC (international students’ organization) internship program. My mission was to participate in the social project – JIYO (or Footprints). Educating underprivileged children in various directions was the main aim of the project. Hundreds of street children are being taken from the streets and given education and a roof over their heads every year, for hundreds of them life changes in just one moment, for most of them this event is a new start and they all know it. I was very happy to see those little children living in harmony and absolute happiness with each other. No matter what hardship their lives give them, they never fail to strive for hope. They are simply happy. And this is where the rule “expect the unexpected” found me. It was appealing to me because for four years I have been working through the NGO Unity Fund, fighting with hardship of children from Kyrgyz orphanages where bringing happiness has been our mission. In just one day, I understood that I only knew about life of Kyrgyz orphans, as I was limited to my local conditions. I needed to learn and teach those little ones and it was a challenge. But the challenge was accepted. I have learnt that moral values and respect are the models for children and they don’t allow themselves the possibility of disobedience. It is in their blood, in their culture, in their faith, in their philosophy. Little children know so little about life, but understand so much about rules of life – another lesson learnt.
We have been working with children for several weeks. It was hard to imagine life without them. I know someday, one of them will become a significant figure and we will meet under different circumstances. They have got the potential. They were so grateful for everything, loved sincerely and with every hug, the warmth and the energy of love could be felt so vividly and truly. I have an undying hope for them and so look forward to soon sharing with children from orphanages in Kyrgyz Republic all I have gained from my experience in incredible India.
Traveling and sightseeing were also the musts of my visit. The 33-hour trainride to Goa, Taj Mahal and Agra, Jaipur – the pink city of India, and finally Mumbai showed me how they differ so much from each other. When traveling, India presents HERself as a composite of hundreds of different countries connected to create one great India. Places are so different, each has its unique point, as places change, languages and foods change as well. So mind-breaking but so real. Oh what else can I say. Just visit.
Making the world a better place in fact makes one man a better person.
FLEX alumni, squeeze your life tighter in your hands and produce the juicy results.
My next destinations: Haiti, Zimbabwe and Vietnam. FLEXible and ready for everything.
Amazing combination of community service abroad with rich learning experience to take back home! Go Nadya Go!