Gaining a new outlook
Over the summer five ISS students and a chaperone travelled to the Catholic Board School, Snehalaya, in Pune, India where they worked with disabled children, particularly ones with cerebral palsy. What a wonderful adventure they had! One experience that stood out in particular was hiking with university-aged students and helping to guide them. It rained the entire time during the hike, making it much harder, but even more memorable! Going into the trip, the ISS students didn’t quite know what to expect. They had certain preconceptions about India, the school and even the students, and in some ways, they were true. Yet overall, the country, the experience and the people were very different from what they had anticipated. Beforehand they had expected to always need to help the children, but they quickly realized how independent they were! During their time at the school, they built bonds with the children and found them to be very open, loving and welcoming.
Above all however, what inspired the ISS students the most was how happy these young people were, despite having practically nothing. Our students returned from India with a changed view of the world. They had seen what it looks like to have almost nothing. They could empathize with those who have nothing. Now they realized just how much they had in their own lives. They had clearly seen that happiness does not depend on material wealth. However, the ISS students learned that we cannot view another’s situation from the lens of our own lives. If we view another’s situation from the perspective of what we think brings happiness, then we will always see lack, where another sees abundance. What a wonderful takeaway! It is certainly one that the students will take into the rest of their lives, and one that we can learn from as well!