Experiencing the Beauty of India

-Yong Jung Cho, BMC ’12

With one backpack and a medium sized suitcase, I landed in Calcutta at 11pm, June 7th. I stepped off the plane and was welcomed to India with an incredible wall of heat which caused my glasses to immediately fog and my clothes to stick right against my skin. Calcutta’s heat was brutal; the heat from the sun, the people, the animals and automobiles. However, it was not the sweat, the crowds, the noise, the crows, the untrustworthy tap water that bothered me the most; it was the unexpected level of poverty.

I was shocked: in one of India’s largest cities, poverty and unemployment had such an overt presence. Families built homes out of debris, children were begging on the streets and people were bathing from gathering water from the public water pumps.

I saw similar levels of poverty in Koderma, a small district in the Jharkand state, the location of my 10 week-long internship where I worked as a hospital staff member and a school teacher. It was in this setting, where I suddenly realized how important rain was. The monsoon season was late and so farmers were desperate; I had forgotten that people still depend on nature for survival. I met villagers who were restricted to having one bucket of water for an entire day. Things that I had consumed without a thought in the United States held such great significance in my new surroundings.

However, despite all the sadness I witnessed, I also experienced so many beautiful things. Over my two month stay, I grew to love the community I served. I met and developed friendships with people who were warm, hospitable, funny, intelligent, and strong; simply amazing people. I will never be able to forget the moments of laughter, songs, dance, conversations and smiles.

Much of the Indian population live in absolute economic destitution, but I have much hope for the nation because there is just so much wealth within the peoples’ hearts

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