Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to India since I was involved in an internship program with a local NGO. I remember the moment I told my family and my friends about my choice to spend seven weeks in India. “Are you crazy? What is wrong with you? Why don’t you go to Ibiza or Greece as everybody else does?” . This is how my friends “motivated” me to go and to live the experience. “Danilo, have you done the vaccine? Do you have enough money? You are going to get sick, I already know!” These were my mother’s concerns. Despite everything, I was really motivated and determined and, above all, I had already made my decision.
During my flight from Rome I was dreaming on my new and exciting experience even though I did not have many expectations. India is a particular context and what we perceive through media is always different from the reality. So I said to myself: “ Do not expect anything, just go there and live every single day in the best way possible!”. But what I really wanted, was to live and experience the Indian reality, living the truth of that context, good or bad experiences were not relevant. What was important was to experience the real India. And I did.
I spent almost two months in Indore, a small and poor town in central India. My daily task was to make presentations and workshops about social and global issues such as poverty alleviation and environmental issues in order to increase the awareness of the young Indian students. We discussed many topics related to politics, society, science, religion and economics. Each conversation with interns coming from different corners of the world enriched my ideas and believes, shaping my own perception of the surrounding world.
What I enjoyed most was the daily Indian life: the traffic, the humidity, the food, the chaos, the people, the bad smell in the streets, the trains and buses, the variety of landscapes to which I was exposed. The most important aspect was the spirituality. I was able to feel something spiritual everywhere around me due to the perfect combination of religions and believes: Christians, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists, Sikhs. Many religious and spiritual groups mixing together in the chaotic streets of the main cities. I had never seen such a combination before and I found it so powerful and interesting. Living in a context characterized by the presence of many religions, ethnicities, social groups and different identities teaches you how to respect what we perceive as “others”, different from “us” because of their religion, mentality, habits and customs. Every day in India you can learn something new from each group and you can apply what you learn to your daily life. This is the power of India.
At the end of my Indian experience I learned so many lessons: I experienced the real life in all its difficulties and uncomfortable aspects; I developed new skills and I also improved my personality and attitude toward others. I felt so powerful, energetic and active every single day and I learned how to solve unexpected and unpredictable situations. I went back to my country with a big smile on my face, sure that my presence and my work have positively affected the experience of both students and interns.
For all these aspects, I just say: thank you India!