Discovering India

As I talk about and prepare for my fellowship, I have been asked the same question over and over again: “But, will you like it in India?” Friends, that is the million dollar question, and one I am not prepared to answer yet. This is the very purpose of my journey–I am here to see, feel, do, learn, experience and discover India and everything it has to offer.

I know that I will have to push my limits of what I think I want, what I think I can do, and also what I can get used to.  Hopefully, I will step outside my comfort zone and even surprise myself. For me, India has always been a country I identify with but don’t really understand, so this is now my chance to fall in love with it, be annoyed with it, surprised and inspired by it, and also develop new ways to understand and appreciate it. By the end, if I’m lucky, my experiences and learnings will serve to open some minds, shatter stereotypes, and maybe even inspire others to embark on their own journey.

Professionally, I hope to expand my horizons, find new things to be passionate about, and also learn from my peers and mentor at Khamir. I look forward to begin working on my projects and meeting the talented artisans in Kachchh who will hopefully benefit from my contributions over the coming year.

I am (of course) looking forward to the many festivals, cultural celebrations and culinary experiences that await me, while staying in touch with the latest filmi news and music that I already love. Lastly, I hope to remain open to the many learnings, experiences, challenges and memories India will offer, and hope I am prepared for the changes I will experience over the course of the coming year. By the end, maybe I can even answer the question, “But, will you like it in India?”

Jilna spent the first half of her life in Nairobi, Kenya, and then moved to the suburbs of Washington DC for high school. New York City was home for five years as she worked towards fulfilling her dream to work in the entertainment business. A career in television led her back home to Maryland, and her involvement with South Asian organizations--both personal and professional--remained a constant through these transitions. Additionally, she spent her spare time volunteering with small organizations, and also joined the board of a local non profit for the chance to aid a group with a different mission. Despite having deep connections to her culture, Jilna has never visited India, and is thrilled with the opportunity to live and work in India supporting Khamir's initiatives for the coming year.

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