India, you will always be in our hearts and thoughts...but we are also ready to come home!
We are currently on our way to the airport, singing songs and telling stories as the busy weekend streets of Mumbai burst with life.
The flight is on time at this point so we should be landing in Newark at 5:55am, pick up luggage quickly, process through customs smoothly, jump on our bus and be at Berkeley Carroll around 7:30/8. The building will be open so please feel free to wait inside.
Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.
On our last day in India, we started the day by waking up bright and early and hopping off the train in Mumbai as the sun rose over the urban landscape. We then boarded a bus and took it to the Garden Hotel, where we stayed at the beginning of our trip, completing the feeling of going full circle. Another trip from the World Leadership School was just leaving the hotel as we were arriving, and sadly our dear instructor Krishna had to leave us and go with this new school group.
After leaving our bags in the hotel lobby and giving Krishna one last hug, we walked to a nearby Starbucks and had our first "American" breakfast in two weeks. Amazing how excited everyone was for something that can be found on what seems like every corner of Brooklyn.
With quick showers and changing into fresh clothes, we walked to an enormous cricket field and had our closing ceremony. We talked about how we had grown as a result of the program, our goals relating to it, and the purpose of the program. After closing ceremonies, we walked to Delhi Darbar and ate our final lunch in India. With full bellies, we set out along the Colaba Causeway and had 45 minutes to shop for souvenirs, practice our barter skills, and get a taste of "tourist" India.
Upon returning to the hotel, we wrote letters to our future selves about the goals we set during closing ceremonies. These letters will be sent to us in one year, so we can be reminded of what we said we would do. After sealing our letters, we climbed into the bus and drove to the airport.
We hope that everybody who participated in the 2018 Berkeley Carroll India trip got something out of it, and achieved all of their goals for the program.
There comes a time in our lives when we must say farewell to friends and family. Today (Friday), it was saying goodbye to our dance instructor, Sheenana (center in above photo), our homestay families and all our dear friends in Heranjal.
Having spent seven days with them, we formed a special bond that will transcend across continents and stand the test of time. Our last day was spent sharing our individual stories that define who we are as a leader. We then had our final meal with our homestay families and said our last goodbyes. These final moments didn’t feel like it was going to be our last time. Our jokes and smiles felt like any other normal day with our homestay families; however, deep down we knew that the inevitable departure was approaching. The warm embrace of the little school children felt as if we were not saying farewell, only a simple see you later. Their little faces and gentle hugs made us feel as though we were a part of the community even though we were only visitors.
As our rickshaws sped closer and closer to the limits of Heranjal, we shared a moment of silence to appreciate and reflect our time spent in the village. We are grateful for our homestay family’s willingness to share their lives with us and giving us an experience we will never forget.
We thank you Heranjal and we hope to see you soon!
Four o’clock came fast and we all arrived at the local school to start preparing for the dance. First we were caked in makeup for 30+ minutes.
The artists mostly used their fingers to apply the makeup and we were all surprised when they started slapping our faces to put on the white foundation paint. In the hot humid weather, we were wrapped in layers and layers of hot clothing. When the drums started playing we knew it was our time.
We woke up early to the cool breeze of an overcast day. After having breakfast with our homestay families and our daily Yakshagana practice, we boarded a bus for a 90 minute ride north to Shri Murudeshwar (twisted Shiva). Upon arrival, we ate at a nearby restaurant raised over the Indian Ocean with a beautiful view of the coast. While we ate, some played card games like exploding kittens, ERS and Magic.
After the delicious lunch we gathered under the shade of a giant Shiva statue, the second largest in the world to be exact, Krishna gave us a brief summary of Hinduism and their beliefs. We took a brief chance to journal about local leaders and what we thought make up the qualities of a leader before heading inside the Shiva where Krishna explained to us the story of this specific location with the help of the beautiful sculptures.
Next, we headed down the hill and into the main temple where many Hindus visit as part of a pilgrimage to worship. Inside, everything was plaited with gold and had beautiful architecture. Our time ended with trip to the top of an 18 stories towner, Gopur (Main Gate) to enjoy a beautiful view of the water and the Shiva statue, and temple.
“Beach, here we come!” The sun was low and covered by clouds, but we were ready to enjoy. The soccer ball flew around the sand and the waves rolled over our heads. We played in the water, ignoring the microscopic jellyfish that gave mini-stings for 30 minutes. To our dismay we were called out of the water. but we had our best ANCHOR of the trip under the sunset on the rocks.
On the bus ride home we blasted some Indian pop music and had a massive dance party. Unfortunately we were greeted with rain, thunder, and lightning. The plan was to go see a professional Yakshagana performance at a temple in a close by village, but we were skeptical the rain would put off the performance. As some started to doze off back at their homestays, the rain let up so we had to get everyone rallied for our late night. We were fortunate enough to see a glimpse of the dusk to dawn performance and it helped paint a picture of our upcoming dance just one short day away.
Our day began bright and early on a cool Tuesday at 6:30am and asked our homestay families if we could help deliver their morning milk to the local Milk Dairy Cooperative. We walked as a group to the Milk Dairy with other locals going through their normal morning routine. and learned about the business—how it started, how much they sell in a day etc. Each house dropped off the morning milk collection that was poured it into a graduated cylinder to measured the density of the milk, and finally weighed to collect the volume; the more fat in the milk the more money would be paid and deposited into a personal account. We also learned about the history of the Milk Dairy Cooperative, how it operates, and the positive impact it has had on the community and women of Heranjalu specifically. In addition we heard from Shailaja, the woman who leads the operation, one of many local leaders we have had the chance to connect with.
We headed out of the village from late afternoon into late at night, and our first stop was a local cashew factory. We had a special tour to learn about what it is like to work in cashew factory and see all the steps that go into preparing the cashews. Each and every cashew that is processed at this factory goes through human hands at least one point during the process and there were many other amazing unknown aspects to the process that we learned! Did you know that cashews have to sit in heat for 24 hours before they are ready to be sold and can be poisonous if not processed correctly? This particular factory was owned and managed by another local leader, Mrs. Bhad.
Journaling in the town was a bit distracting, but it worked out for the best because we ended up having some fun conversations with local youth and also playing an impromptu game of volleyball.
Next up, the “Market Challenge” where we broke into small teams of three and were given 200 rupees to buy food/objects we hadn’t heard of before. Everyone had to practice Kannada, to ask how much something cost, and then we were off exploring. We walked into different stores, avoiding the traffic that we have become more accustom to. Pre-dinner ice cream, more colorful than ever imagined, was the perfect gathering spot to share the recent purchases, some of which were new sweet treats, different savory snacks, or fun new toys.
The night ended at the village school to dance on the stage and get a feel for our big show one day away. By this time, the sun had gone down and the stars had come out. Still a little hot and sweaty, we danced in the shadows of flashlights with dust highlighting every step we took. While groups were dancing, some of us decided to tell ghost stories in the middle of the dark.
During our appreciation part of ANCHOR, one student pointed out how pretty the stars looked so we decided to take a quick break to look up at the sky and take it all in. In the end, we read to strips from the comic Calvin and Hobbes that reminded us of who we are and what we should hold important.
After awaking yet again to the chickens of our homestays, a group of athletic early risers set out to run/exercise through the village with Carlos teaching exercises and Krishna leading the run. Once the athletes showered and everyone else woke up, we gathered at Klub Krishna for Yakshagana rehearsal. We finished learning all the steps, so now all we have to do is polish and put on the finishing touches.
After a quick snack and juice break, we set out to the fields behind KK to harvest peanuts. Although we only worked for 10-15 minutes, we got a great sense of what peanut farmers have to do every day for 8-10 hours. Feeling inspired after harvesting, some helped homestay sisters pick peanuts off their roots during lunch. It was very eye opening to go through the different steps of peanut harvesting.
At last, it was time to head to the local school and play games with the young kids, something we were all looking forward to. The field came to life with dust flying through the air as soccer, frisbee, and games of catch scattered about. A fun song and hand-slap game of “Quackdilioso” entertained some and others just sat passing back English and Kannada words trying to expand vocabulary and explore language. Seeing how excited the children were to meet and play with us was a moment we will never forget and will surely share with family and friends when we return to the U.S. While taking a break in the shade, we found a cashew tree, and put our scientific lens on to discuss the interesting elements of the fruit and seed…ending with a taste test of a “very interesting and juicy” bite for those that were interested.
When we returned to KK base it was time to learn about our “True Colors.” We discussed and discovered what types of leaders we are; for example, Experiencers are leaders who are adventurous, creative, bold, and spontaneous. Soon after, we even did an activity where we paired up with a partner from a different leadership type and had to make an imaginary creature that would have a perfect skillset for our trip out of clay while blindfolded: the final gallery included a Cyclops/crocodile creature, a wheelie backpack that is alive, a giant inchworm with extra-large eyes, and a supersize peanut with a top-hat.
We wrapped up the day with ANCHOR, where we Appreciated others and shared News, Concerns, Hopes, “Oh cool stuff,” and a Reading. Back at the homestays everyone ended the day with dinner, conversations, games, and a few treated families to a special Yakshagana preview…filled with many messed-up steps and laughs. We drifted off to sleep preparing for an early morning at a local dairy. More to come!
Today we woke up to the beautiful squawks of the chickens, afterward we had breakfast with our homestay families. It appeared to be a remix of our dinner from the day before and it was as delicious as a meal made at home.
As we closed our eyes during a “prayer,” foot steps shuffled around us…and suspicion of why we needed to wear bandanas around our face soon became clear. We proceeded to have our own mini Holi Hai festival with music and dancing. To keep the surprises going, we were lead to a river and jump in to clean ourselves off. After some sharks and minnos, we went back to our homestays to showered, eat lunch, play games, and build deeper relationships across cultural differences.
We all gathered back at Klub Krishna at 4pm and asked the question, why are we here? Our faculty advisors then lead an activity to make us think about reasons why we should be here and travel to other places in the world. Then, Krishna lead us in a game of cricket. After some free time for more cricket and playing around with the soccer ball, we did ANCHOR, and went back to our homestays. We then ate dinner and hung out with our host families.
From there we traveled by auto rickshaw to our home for the next week, Heranjal. We first stopped at the school and after a warm welcome by the children of the village we headed Krishna’s House (Klub Krishna). We had homestay orientation, and learned some usefull words in Kannada (The native language of Heranjal). After a delicious lunch eaten on Banana leaves and a proper lesson on how to eat with our hands we met our homestay families. Although our first few minutes with the families were a little awkward we quickly bonded over card games and handshakes.
We came back to Klub Krishna and learned about the Yakshagana dance we will be performing at the end of our stay. The day was filled with new experiences, new worries and new hopes , and we all are incredibly happy the village is taking us in and we can’t wait to get to know our homestays.
(PS. Brianna wants to wish a happy 10th birthday to her brother Ethan!)