Introducing Ryan Ballard

I’m Moving to India

While leaving India last summer after nearly three months, I was not sure when I would return to this country again. Part of me felt that it would be the end of my Indian chapter of my life for a while. After two consecutive summers and learning so much about Indian culture and development, I was not sure when I could come back, and I justified this by convincing myself that I may need a break for a while anyway. Deep down, however, I had this unexplainable and sure feeling that I was not yet done with India, and that somehow I would be back sooner than I thought.

Sure enough, here I am, going back for nearly one year with the American Indian Foundation. How do I feel? It is overwhelming to say the least. I am about to jump another plane to travel half way around the world for ten months after just returning from almost eight months abroad in West Africa six weeks prior. Not to mention that I will be working in Mumbai, an extreme mega-city with intense contrasts and a fast paced lifestyle that I am sure will spur a ton of unsettled emotion. However, more than ever I feel ready for it all. I feel ready to do something useful with my collective professional and personal life experience. The mystery behind what I will be doing and how it will all change me is exciting and completely welcomed.

On a separate note, I also feel really lucky and privileged to have such a great opportunity to grant me this mobility to move across the world. It is not a privilege that was just casually given to me, but rather one that I work very hard for. Yet, I am ashamed to continually witness people from the global north moving freely to the global south while the inverse is much more rare. Aside from amazing food, bright festivals, great conversations and contagious dancing, I am hoping that this time in India will give me plenty of opportunity to examine such privilege and hopefully grow through mending some of the issues I have with global imbalance. I do not know what will come of it all in the next ten months, but I know it will at least be a new possibility for trying to do something useful for other people as a means for larger scaled change.

Personal growth is something that I cannot anticipate, but always strive for. Without even trying, I am sure that ten months of this experience will ignite some sort of change from within me. What I am also striving for is to use this time to expand my mind more towards a greater understanding of my life and what I want for the next few phases of it. I am hoping to achieve a little more peace and a lot more patience. Mostly, I just want to walk away from this experience knowing that I took full advantage of all that was given to me and made the absolute best of it all. There is no guarantee that any of this will happen, but one thing I have learned in India is that one’s accomplishments are exponentially greater than one’s failures. So even if I am unable to make any great things happen, if I come back from India knowing that I at least accomplished hard work, that will give me the most satisfaction. So I guess, chalo! Let’s see what happens.

Ryan is back for a second year with the Fellowship to build on work done during the previous year as a Fellow. Having long been dedicated to service and advocacy for the marginalized, Ryan has found himself working on various social projects spread across four continents. Being abroad has given him the opportunity to balance theory with practical understanding of the complex realities of working in development. Themes of human rights, empowerment, racial subordination, gender discrimination, sustainable community development, poverty reduction, health as a right and ethical representation of the poor have created a passion for this line of work. South Asia has become a new frontier in his life. In 2009, he found himself in India for the first time observing and learning from a student-led coalition for water and sanitation in slum neighborhoods of Mumbai. In 2010, he was awarded as a Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme Fellow and lived in Jharkhand, India researching strategies to improve maternal/infant health and sexual health in rural communities. While at Berkeley, he devoted himself to a part-time job as a College Advisor and Program Coordinator for under-served students from Oakland, CA with the non-profit College Track. In Spring 2011 he completed a youth photography project in Accra, Ghana with street children. When he's not working he loves dancing, art and just enjoying the good things in life.

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One thought on “Introducing Ryan Ballard

  1. Ryan.
    Hope all is well. I love that you have the opportunity to live in India for 10 months. I work for 2 wonderful Indian physicians. One is from hyperabad (spelling). I love their culture. Actually one fo them will be traveling to India the month of November for a wedding.. I hope you will have a wonderful experience.
    Take Care

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