Throwing last minute items together at 4:30 AM, and not being able to confirm my flight at home consumed my nerves this morning, as I was getting ready to leave for the airport. The UT Austin chapter of Nourish International and our families decided to eat breakfast at IHOP before our 10:40 AM flight from Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. However, as I sat in the car, my worries ceased a bit. Despite possible forgotten items and ticket troubles, I knew things would work out, and by this time all I could hear was India calling.
The University of Texas Nourish International chapter has been working on the Orissa India project all semester, meeting multiple times a week, and learning what to expect abroad, various phrases in Telugu, creating lesson plans for English classes, and putting together a computer and career development curriculum.
During the final week we were in Austin, we were able to have a Skype call with our partner DJMV. The excitement could be felt from both sides of the computer screen. During the call, they let us know upon arrival in Orissa, we will be picked up at the airport by Bheema, one of directors of DJMV, and eat with his family. Our partner has fully demonstrated kindness and open arms toward us, but they expect us to wake up early every morning and work hard throughout the weeks we’ll be there. I know general living and teaching English and computer literacy will be a huge challenge. For preparation earlier this semester, the group sat in on an ESL class to get a feel for how to effectively teach our language to others. Bottom line, we know it’s going to be a slow process and we may not accomplish as much as we set out within our lesson plans. However, we will stay flexible, maintain good attitudes, and make as large of an impact as possible within the community. My hopes are to inspire the high school students we’re teaching to go on to higher education and seek jobs to bring money back to their village. This is what I love about Nourish—we teach impoverished communities how to pull themselves out of poverty rather than just give them our charity. As I was explaining this to my dad at dinner the night before departure, he understood immediately, saying: “give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he can eat for a lifetime.” Exactly.
Right now the group and I are going through a series of flights in order to get to our first destination: Mumbai. We will stay there for the weekend, then head over to Orissa where we will stay for the remainder of our trip.
As a group, we’d sincerely like to thank the entire UT Austin chapter for everyone’s amazing work raising money for this project and for all of your Nourish love and support! I’d also like to thank my parents, extended family, and friends who made contributions to the project and/or my personal volunteer expense or support me in spirit.
All for now (but with plenty to come),