I spent 14 weeks in India and I cannot believe that I am in the last week, now, at the end of this indescribable journey. It was a short time but it feels like the best and biggest time in my life.
I stayed in a host family in Kundapur together with another volunteer and it is like a home for me. Through my host family I got a deep insight into the Indian culture. We had enough time for talking a lot about India, Germany as well as about the normal days. In the beginning, my host mother helped me every morning to wrap my sari for the project and now, I can say proudly that I am able to wrap it by myself. Some of my funniest moments I had in my room talking with my co-volunteer and my host sisters, eating chocolate and laughing about the stories of the others. On the Nikolaus day we prepared a treasure hunt and together we had so much fun, especially because of a power cut and the mystery feeling through it. I am so happy with my host family and my roommate. I cannot imagine how it will be without them!
In my project, the Narayana Special School, I am working with disabled children (here in India most of the people call them special children-I like that!) between six and 36 years old and with many different handicaps (cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, deafness, autism). Here I had some of my hardest moments. It has taking time until I realized that it is enough to spend time with the children and teach them some really simple things without expecting any results. They need time to understand, to remember and to learn, most of them need years! Most of the time, I concentrated on one or two children. That was really important for me because it is difficult to handle more. My advice: Let your expectations at home! Now, spending my last days in my project I realize how I like each of these children and the teachers and how thankful I am for this tough experience.
In my holidays I travelled a lot. I celebrated the Dasara festival in Mysore, hiking in Kollur, visited Mangalore and Udupi and experienced Yoga, Meditation and Ayuveda massages in Gokarna at the OM beach. This showed me the spiritual side of India. Some of my best days I spent, together with my co-volunteer, in Goa. We were visiting Panaji, the capital, and enjoying some days at the beaches of south Goa. The last week I was visiting the beautiful scenery of Hampi. That was an amazing experience, seeing the ruins of the old kingdom of Vijayanagar. I saw just a very small part of South India but it deeply moved me so much! The Indian nature is so beautiful that I never will get used to it. On the contrary, I am speechless about the magic. India is a feeling which you cannot describe but it will warm your heart.
I have met many different people in this time and some of them let some footprints on my soul, changed my perspective and my thoughts-I learned a lot about myself! The first time in my life I really understand how big the world is and little we know about it. I am not the same person than before. I cannot describe it but I am sure I am not.
The Indian culture is so diverse and till now I have only a small idea of it! This country is so colorful and full of power and every Indian meal is an experience unique. Eating lunch in one of the impressive temples or travelling by train or the sleeper bus, enjoying a rickshaw drive, eating ice cream at Prabhu-there are many simple things that make you feel indescribable happy! But especially the welcoming people are the reason why I fell in love with this amazing part of the world. It was so easy to feel home because of them!
Johanna Goff- Germany,