Last year this time, I was packing my bags with a strong determination to “conquer” senior year. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what I’m doing this year. A year after I got back from my internship at Aravind, Madurai, I’m learning that unexpected things can be good. Even great and wonderful and everything you need at a particular time.
After my return to Penn last year, I wasn’t really feeling very thrilled about being back, which to me was odd because I love Penn. In my young adult life, I have spent so much time defining myself based on my identity as a Penn student, and suddenly, it wasn’t working any more. And because I’m the kind of person who always want to analyse why something isn’t working, I was spending more time analysing than going to classes and doing my assigned reading. Finally, I decided to take a Leave of Absence for a year and head back to my family to have the time and space I needed to figure things out.
One of the most difficult goodbyes I said was to Sam and Christina because we had managed to continue our Nandha-Wu-Ware relationship outside of Aravind, and were discovering that we enjoyed each other’s company outside of Madurai. But this year, I’m happy to be reporting that Christina is actually one of my housemates and Sam (who’s in Haiti) is quite jealous of this arrangement! Don’t worry Sam – we’ll keep you updated on everything and we promise not to get closer to each other than we are to you.
During my time off, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Aravind. I arrived there with a day’s notice, and everyone I saw there was so happy to see me and they put aside their work and duties to spend a little time with me. They were caring and sensitive and extremely considerate of the fact that my father had passed away recently, and they really convinced me that our friendship would last beyond just my physical presence in Madurai. I also got to see the fruits of our labour because the posters that Sam, Christina and I had worked on for so long were finally out and hanging around the hospital. All the detailed and lengthy discussions about color combinations and complementary tones were absolutely worth it!
Also, a year from now, I realize that I love India. I feel so inextricably tied to this country and am so grateful that CASI gave me the opportunity to explore my relationship with India. I have no idea what I’ll be doing after graduation, but I do feel like India is beckoning to me.