In the summer of 2008 I had a serendipitous encounter with Chad Robertson, AIF Clinton Fellow Class of 07-08, in Delhi. He had just completed his fellowship at the APV School and I was on my way to participate in a 9-month teaching program in Jaipur. I remember him speaking passionately about a documentary film he was working on about the APV School. This past Sunday I hosted a screening of his finished film for a gathering of family and friends. They were impressed and inspired, as was I. In a couple weeks I will make the journey to Uttarakhand to begin my fellowship experience at the APV School, following in the footsteps of Chad and three other past AIF fellows.
The next 10 months hold a wealth of opportunity for personal growth. When I reflect on how I want to develop, and who I want to be, at the end of this fellowship experience, I find myself returning to a favorite line by the Sufi poet, Hafiz: “You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, mix them!” I strongly feel that the school and ashram at APV will provide me with many of these joy-inducing ingredients: holistic education, meditation, communal living, music and dance, the Himalayas. I’m also aware that I may encounter ingredients of true struggle and hardship. I hope to welcome all of the various challenges I will face, and learn from them. I imagine that the end product of all this mixing will be a deeper commitment to alternative education, a clearer awareness of my capabilities, strong bonds of friendship and solidarity, and ultimately, a more joyous existence.
It is truly an honor, both humbling and exhilarating, to have the opportunity of these next 10 months of service, personal growth, and immense learning. I think often of my Grandpa Day’s counsel: “Learn to use your time and talent for the service of others. Indeed that has given me the greatest joy.” It is with these words close at heart that I embark on the journey ahead. Let the mixing begin!