Friday, February 11, 2011

Post-India: Thoughts on Service

I returned home from India a couple nights ago. Since this time, I've been processing the experiences I had in India quite a bit, some of which are really difficult to put in words. I plan to write some more blog posts over the course of the next week or so about specific experiences that readers of this blog might find insightful and inspiring. In the meantime, allow me to post some thoughts that are currently on my mind.

Navemani, one of the dedicated nurses
The thoughts of purpose, relationships, self-less service, and potential dance across my mind. I had the opportunity to visit a leprosy colony while I was in India. I was impressed with the doctor's and nurses' dedication, patience, and sincere compassion as they interacted with the patients. I was also touched by the willingness of volunteers to get on their knees and remove bandages and wash the feet of those leprosy-afflicted individuals without hesitation or complaint. There is something
Smiles from one of the leprosy colonies
amazing about serving those (and witnessing those who serve) individuals who are overlooked, shunned, and unknown by the world. It is a humbling experience to think that I have had the rare opportunity to interact with some wonderful individuals who most people in the world will never have the opportunity to meet because they are cast off--sentenced to live in leprosy colonies in remote communities in rural India. But once you see their smiles, you sense a feeling of familiarity, fondness, and friendship.

Gracie, one of the students
And when I think about the children who I have grown to love so much who come from these leprosy colonies, my love for these leprosy-afflicted individuals grows deeper. These colonies are the children's roots. Their heritage--coming from a leprosy colony--is why they are at the Peery School for Rising Stars. It is their fate, as posterity of the leprosy-afflicted in the leprosy colonies, that is also their boon--their blessing--to be students at the Peery School. Their faces shine with hope, conquering difficulties, and unconditional love.

At the Bindu Art School

I also had the opportunity to visit the Bindu Art School at one of the leprosy colonies where I saw several artists at work--leprosy-afflicted individuals who have discovered the beauty of bright colors and creative exploration. As I wandered around the community center, looking at each artists' work and offering sincere praise, their toothless smiles communicated their pride in their work. Although we couldn't communicate in English, the universal language of mutual appreciation through smiling was successfully communicated. A smile goes a long way.

In conclusion, I want to acknowledge that I know there are so many dedicated people across the globe who are in the trenches doing the best they can to contribute to helping their fellowmen reach their potential. I wrote of this in a blog post over a year ago. I know many of these kinds of individuals personally. To all of you, both those I know by name and those I don't, thank you for your service, whether you feel recognized and validated or not. We are all in this together...

(See other posts on my experience in India here and here.)


  1. Hello Heidi,

    I share in your experience of teaching EFL to students in Argentina. I've traveled back and forth to the US and have been living in Buenos Aires for some time now. I've given social conversation classes. The challenge has been really rewarding. About a year ago I helped a student prepare her job interview which was going to be in English because she was going to work for IBM. And she made it! Thank you and good luck on your teaching trail.
    Gabriela Nolan

  2. Thanks for your comment, Gabriela. Witnessing success, and being a part of helping others achieve success, is certainly a rewarding experience on so many levels. Good luck to you in Argentina!