From Weddings to Plane Rides

This past Saturday was my sister’s wedding. Several months ago when I first broke the news to her that I was awarded AIF’s Clinton Fellowship for Service in India (and that meant I would be leaving for Delhi at the end of August), she almost immediately decided she was going to move up her wedding two months to ensure that I would be a part of her special day.  Shocked at her and her fiancé’s selflessness, my sister’s wedding became a celebration not only of her new beginning as a newlywed, but also a celebration for my upcoming Indian adventure.

Her wedding also proved to be a great distraction from pre-travel nerves, but now as I reflect on the “what ifs” and daydream about the very near future, I find myself strangely calm.  I’m sure I will forget something important at home, and sure, I know there will be days when I will be tested beyond my limits.  What outweighs these potential anxieties is the immense appreciation I have for this opportunity to travel back to India.  For the chance to test myself in a new place, with new people and new objectives.

What I learned from my previous experience in India is that as far as expectations go, always expect the unexpected.  As cliché as that sounds, it is part of India’s charm, and a source of frustration if you try to stay too much in control of things.  I am excited to dive into the next ten months with a bag of tools I have collected over the years and join an organization’s team that is so in-tune with my own philosophies, that I cannot wait to learn from their expertise in the field of youth development and conflict transformation, while offering them a fresh set of eyes and new perspective, so we can work together to achieve our goals.

For the next ten months my goal is to be a sponge, ready to soak up everything India has to offer, except maybe that Delhi pollution.

From my sister’s wedding to gearing up to hop on a 14-hour plane ride, my body is exhausted, but my mind won’t settle down.  I am ready to start this amazing journey that will give me the space to serve, grow and hopefully bring about positive change for others as they will undoubtedly do for me.

Here I come India; I can almost taste the chai now!

Allison's interest in social justice beyond borders began while working in Uganda with the Youth Focus Africa Foundation, a local NGO focused on serving educational, health and social justice initiatives to the women and children in local villages. This experience motivated her to continue her exploration of other cultures through a study-abroad program at the University of Hyderabad in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Her time in India had a big impact on her views pertaining to culture-specific methods of conflict transformation, which inspired her honors thesis, "Applying Conflict Resolution to the Telangana Struggle." Allison continued exploring her passion for working with under-served youth by holding a leadership role through the Upward Bound program in Boone, NC, where she helped prepare aspiring first-generation college students for higher education. Prior to joining AIF, Allison facilitated character development classes aimed at giving juveniles an alternative to the court system through a local organization in her hometown, Memphis, TN.

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