Almost 2 weeks ago I returned from India and on this trip, I was able to see 15 new water projects spread over 3 states, and yes, many hours were spent on planes and in cars, but it was well worth it. More than ever, I saw the importance of being in person, as the conversations were richer, more insightful towards cultural cues and norms, and organically produced and led in nature. In addition to this, just being in a village and seeing the people who are benefiting from our work was amazing and no doubt the feeling was mutual.
COVID certainly played a big role in my trip and presented some challenges, but despite the necessary testing, additional paperwork, diminished flight schedules and food offerings in the hotels, and of course mask wearing, I managed. In regard to COVID, India has overcome the worst of what they experienced in April and May with the countless deaths, bodies lines the streets, cues of ambulances waiting to get patients into hospitals for treatment; all of that is gone, for now, what remains is a push to stress the importance of hand washing, social distancing, and mask wearing along with being vaccinated. Cues which all of us can adopt and live with as they certainly aren’t life threating.
The other hurdle which I faced and not so easily identified was internal and it wasn’t until I got home and was in conversation with my wife and a few other people on separate occasions that I could pinpoint it, and that was experiencing life on the other side of the world. Because of COVID my travels in 2020 were cut short, I only made 2 trips out of a planned 6, and as a result of not being in India for 16 months, just about everything about my life became rather comfortable despite the COVID lockdown. The best way to explain it is, I didn’t have to come face to face with all the challenges that India presents as an emerging nation. I had a safe place to call home, I had running water, reliable transportation, and health care, I had access to pretty much anything I wanted, sure I might have to stand in line for an hour, but it was there waiting for me to purchase it. I realize places in the US didn’t fare as well as my suburban life in Kansas, but India was far worse than anything being experienced in the US, and despite not being there during the worst of times, being there between the 2nd and anticipated 3rd wave, weighed heavily on me internally, and showed me how resilient Indians are, and now privileged and spoiled I have become. It is hard to admit this but I’ve come to accept it, my life is blessed more than I know and I experienced it during my trip, I didn’t have to wait in the same lines, I wasn’t asked for certain documents, I was given 5-star treatment wherever I went, all things that I have grown accustomed to receiving and yet the average Indian doesn’t experience because they’re not white and from America.
How do I change?
Working on that right now.
One thing for certain is that this trip gave me a fresh perspective, one which is akin to my 1st and 2nd trip to India, my eyes and my heart are more open than in the past, and God willing, more receptive to doing something in order to make a difference and create some impact.
God help me!