For myself, and many of the other Clinton Fellows participating this year, this is not our first time to explore India and it certainly is not likely to be our last. I have come to India several different times, including, academic work, volunteering, and simply touring the country by enjoying the many wonders it has to offer. However, I have never worked abroad as an “expat” and experienced India’s work culture first hand. This is without a doubt going to be an exciting and challenging component of the fellowship we will all experience. I am very much looking forward to it.
I remember reading from our fellowship handbook that there will be times when we will feel overwhelmed and wish to return to the “known.” I have definitely had this feeling living in India before, but each and every time I learned to adjust and gain the trust of the members living in my community. While living in Jaipur, I did not at first have the trust of my neighborhood because I was an outsider. However, a friend in the community gave me advice regarding how to fit in better. One of her suggestions was to feed a cow that wondered our street daily. At first, I did not know how this could possibly help, but people residing in our neighborhood had never seen the “Angrez” feed the cows before as a manner of respect. Little by little, the tension in the neighborhood had been removed.
The known that the guidebook referred to would definitely have to be family and friends back in Fairbanks, Alaska. However, after living in different Indian cities, the known doesn’t feel to far away. In fact, my former experiences in the country have actually made me feel as if I am returning home with the close friendships I have made in Jaipur in Pune. I look forward to yet another adventure once again and the challenges that will come with this experience as well.