Hi. My name is Lydia and I’m from Istanbul, Turkey.
I tried not having expectations about coming to India since all I knew were mostly stereotypes and rumors which some were true, some were not. So I think till the time I met my host family I was just taking in everything without giving it much thought. That was the first phase, taking in everything and objectively observing. The second phase was comparing everything to a similar or opposite idea and seeing their differences and similarities. The language, the people, the culture, the architecture… And the third phase was asking questions. Through this, I learned many things and not just about India but about my own country too. In a country you don’t know there are many questions to be answered, though not all can be.
I am an only child and I don’t have a big family so having a big family here was very pleasantly interesting. The education system and overall school were very different from my own school. I have learned many things such as Hindi, Indian traditional dances and playing the flute. There are some things that I regret not trying but there is nothing I will get from that. To be honest, at first it was really confusing. My host family dealt with every doubt I had but some stuff still bothered me. Being out of your comfort zone and not being able to communicate with people can be a little hard; especially, for me, it was the fear of offending someone. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.
For my PEACE active project I worked with underprivileged girls. I had weekly sessions with them. I did this with my host sister. Since I didn’t/don’t know Hindi it was me rambling in English and her translating it to Hindi. We mostly did activities which would make them think and express their own opinions. Most of them were hesitant towards expressing their views but with time and getting used to me, they opened up a bit while talking to us so I really hope after this they will be more open about speaking themselves.
It’s nearing the end of my trip. I have learned many things since I came here. This experience is something I will forever remember.