The life lessons I learned during my 3 months working for a NGO hospital in rural India were small and simple–but these daily encounters were absolutely necessary for my personal and professional growth. I did not understand what “entitlement” meant before I left to work in India. In the beginning, I met the wealth of typical NGO or “India” problems with frustration and disappointment. For fleeting moments I felt as if I deserved a more organized internship, better research resources, or more caring mentors to help facilitate my thesis fieldwork–just because I was a Penn student. It did not take long for me to realize that I was entitled to nothing. India did not owe me anything, no matter how smart or experienced or hardworking I thought I was. It was me who owed India: a chance, patience, time. Once I did, that was when the grand learning experience began.
I will never forget the people I met—the faces who greeted me with unwavering smiles and caring eyes, even when I might have not deserved it. After returning home and truly reflecting on my experience in India, I find myself at a loss for words. India touched me in a way that is indescribable. It changed who I am in ways I could never imagine. I could wax poetic about these life-changing experiences or the first world culture-shock I experienced upon my arrival back to America but I feel as if I have spoken enough. Therefore, I will complete my blog posts with a few of my favorite portraits and let these faces tell you a story.