This winter break, I am very excited to say that I will be going to India with the Alternative Winter Break (AWB) program through the USC Volunteer Center. Last year, I was fortunate to go on the AWB program to Thailand. It was an incredible trip with three main components: service, travel, and forming connections with other USC students. I am really looking forward to the trip this year, as it will provide me with another opportunity to have each of these three categories exist together again.
I will be traveling to Rajasthan, which is in the northwest part of India. There, my group and I will be performing service work in the slum Banjara Basti. There are three service opportunities that are part of the AWB India program, which are working with children to teach English and personal hygiene, working with women to teach English and economic independence, or working with men to teach financial responsibility. I was most drawn to working with children, and hope to be working with them for the majority of the trip.
I think there is much to be gained from an experience like this, where I will be pushed out of my comfort zone. I will be living on a farm, taking showers out of a bucket, and immersing myself into a culture very different from my own. I think my greatest personal growth has come from being pushed out of my comfort zone, and I look forward to the opportunity to learn and grow in India. There is a lot to be learned from people different from myself, and to see the world through the eyes of a child, or from a person who sees things entirely differently, will be refreshing.
The trip is organized such that I will not only get to travel within India, but also participate in cultural activities. During the day, we volunteer in the slum and in the evening, we return to the farm to learn about Indian culture through dance, yoga, henna, and cooking. We also take two weekend trips, one to the Taj Mahal, and one to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. I am excited about the balance of the trip, and I can’t wait to get going!