Though I've only been in India one week I have enough stories for a whole summer. I've gone through a bit of culture shock, especially earlier in the week when strangers seemed really pushy and sweaty people climb all over each other on overcrowded buses. I'm normally one to avoid touching and bumping into strangers, especially of the sweaty variety, but eventually caved in to the inevitable. I'm looking forward to Sunday when I will be traveling to Mysore to see the night lights.
I volunteer with an NGO called Peace Child India. It's been a great experience so far. I volunteer with two other Americans and several locals at a government run boys home. Though I see many sad things on a daily basis (guards using whips on them, children crippled by polio and other preventable diseases, one boy who's eyes are cut out, etc.) I also enjoy the simple pleasures we are able to bring into their lives by playing with them and teaching them basic skills. Many of these boys are not much different from kids in America. We took them to the park on Wednesday to ride a train and a boat. There wasn't enough room on the boat so I stayed on land with one of the local volunteers who can't swim. While we were sitting there, a Muslim family came up and asked me to take pictures with them. First it was just one guy with a baby but then he kept calling people over and by the end I had taken pictures with 6 or 7 different groups. After they left a family came over and stared at me. Finally they whispered things to a boy who was about 5 and he came over and talked to me in English a little bit. He asked me to shake his hand and when I did, they all laughed and flocked over to awkwardly shake my hand without saying anything and then run away smiling and shouting things in Kannada to one another. I get pseudo-celebrity treatment in Bangalore with many people staring at me wherever I go. I've also been asked if Paige, the only other white volunteer in our group, is my mom many times despite the fact that we look nothing alike.
Though I've only just hit the tip of the iceberg as far as stories so far I have to go eat lunch. I'll try to update again soon- I have interesting stories about waiters, laundry and an 8-legged creature about the size of my hand. All is well and I hope the same is true of anyone reading this. Take care!
Ben VanSumeren Commits To Michigan
17 hours ago