As a traveler and a curious person that I am, I asked my parents if I could do something different this summer, like an exchange. They came to me with this project and here I am, writing my story.
That experience was so far the most important experience I have ever had in my life, it changed me. This exchange was a learning experience and I needed it because I was feeling lost in multiple ways. One week before I went to India I set one personal goal, it was self-improvement, and now I am sure that I accomplished this goal. I am much more organized, hard-working, patient, and I also became more grateful.
I was in difficult situations in terms of communication because I couldn’t speak in English and my family couldn’t understand me, and I also couldn´t understand Hindi. We had some misunderstandings but we developed a pretty good relationship because, in the end, we could communicate pretty well, even not knowing each other’s language. In the beginning, I was always having problems with the decisions that I was making because I thought I could do everything but at the end, I couldn’t do all of it, so I started to set priorities and after those, if I had time to do other things, I would do it. So I think that I developed my decision-making and that skill was probably the most important for me these past months. These are the life-skills that I developed the most but I also developed skills like creativity with drawing, painting and also the project; memorization trying to remember everyone’s name, and also adaptation because I had to adapt to such a different lifestyle, waking up at 5 am and eating vegetarian food.
One thing that I talked about in Portugal that is not talked here is equality. Although being a democracy India should work more to make the inequalities smaller, I’m not talking about the government because they worked hard to reduce it, for example, with the “reservations”. I am talking about the mindset of the people that think that they are superior and better because they are in a higher caste. Our families talk about it all the time, and if people start to develop that mindset in India, it will be a really good achievement.
Probably the volunteer work was the best part of this experience. I always wanted to do it but I didn’t have the chance or I was just too lazy, so it was my first time doing something this big. I worked with orphans and I never thought something like helping other people could be so fun, it was one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had and I also learned so much working with these kids that I am so thankful for it. If everyone was able to spend at least 1 hour per week or even per month doing something for the community, the world would be a much better place to live. There are so many problems in a community/city/country that can be solved by us, the citizens, why can’t everyone spend some time doing something useful and helpful instead of being on the internet doing nothing?
My message to the Indian youth is:
You are the future of India, so if you follow the right path you will make this country proud. Self-discipline, hardworking, learning from your mistakes as well as kindness, respect and an open mind are essential for becoming a better person.
You should preserve the environment, provide basic needs to everyone like education and healthcare and, to finish, develop a peaceful country with no conflicts and set good relationships with every country.