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By Janae Vellere

The day we traveled to South India was a long and tiring one jam-packed with activities. We traveled to Chennai after nearly a week of being in New Delhi. Our first stop was meeting with teens from two Indian schools, one of which we were sending videos back and forth to for the past 4 months. On the drive to the first school, Asan Memorial Secondary School, we were all told to look out the windows and compare what the streets looked like here versus New Delhi.  We found Chennai to be cleaner and less polluted. There seemed to be less poverty as we did not see as many homeless people. All the ads had light skinned actors and actresses. None of the ads matched the darker skin tone of most people we were seeing walking around the city.

When we arrived the kids were all dressed up. The girls had on traditional clothes and the boys had on black button down shirts and jeans. They motioned us to our seats and introduced their school and its background before explaining their curriculum.  Next the girls performed a beautiful, traditional dance where they did in a circle on stage. Then the boys jumped on stage, showing their excitement to perform for us. This cute little boy got in the front and nailed his solo which gave his group the confidence to complete their number well!

It was amazing to see them all smiling and having fun. The best part was when they all gathered up walking back to class and touching each other’s backs in a motion like they’re proud of one another.  A little bit later we all sat in circle with the students from this school around our age who we would be eating with. It was so fun. I introduced our program and how we got here then we had a question and answer segment where the bonds between people were made.  Next we ate lunch with them which was very interesting. We had to eat with only our right hand and even try our best to eat everything on our plates so as not be ungrateful. We had so much fun trying new food and getting to know their community.

Shortly after we drove to the second school, BVM Global School, where we were greeted by the principal and staff. We were ushered into the auditorium where they had a introduction about the history of the school. We then paired up with students from the BVM School and began a pottery class as well as making clay elephants. Everyone had so much fun making the clay elephants even though they were surprisingly difficult to make.

My partner an I were the first pair to have a pottery class and I was quite nervous of the outcome.  As we went on with our class I actually began to get the hang of it and made my first pot that came out really well despite the many times it either cracked or broke. After I went back and finished my clay elephant and everyone else finished we began to play around. The boys from BGC played basketball and all the girls plus the male BVM students played volleyball. I enjoyed playing since it felt like forever since I last played a game of volleyball.

After playing we had a meal and then began to play a hand game of slide which quickly spread and suddenly the everyone was trying it out. When we left I felt a sense of comfort. It felt like these kids we just met today I’d known for years!

It was a great day. I will never forget how big my smile was when we left. We got back on the bus and checked into the hotel. After a long day it felt amazing to sit down on the bed and to think about how my group made a huge impact on kids from a different country and even likewise on us. Today taught me that life isn’t based off of how you live but how you act living in it. I’m overly joyed to have met and interacted with such an inspiring group of people today.