The walk from the Shodhgram central square to the gate is my favorite, because it is the coolest part of the campus. The trees that line the walkway create the illusion of a tunnel to the fields outside. The rice paddies to my left and the murmer of the hospital to my right enhance the already pleasant atmosphere. So pleasant in fact, that I do not want that road to end. In my head, I imagine the pathway extending in front of me, and it just goes on and on. But of course, this is impossible, so I just walk back and forth, thinking of those last few months, and the ones yet to come.
Perhaps I should describe my experiences here “adjusting” or how I am creating a “routine,” but in my month at SEARCH, I have learned that this concept is non-existent. True, I wake up and go to work every day, but there is always something happening on campus: a lecture, a holiday celebration, or an impromptu table tennis game. Before I left Washington, I expected long periods of boredom in such a rural place, but thankfully, this has not yet been the case.
A big part of this is that Shilpa and I are a good team, I think. With her stories and detailed observations, she keeps us in the laughs. It is hard to be in a place where people hesitate to speak English, but she handles it well, always positive, and energetic, and consequently, her good nature rubs off on those around her.
My favorite part so far, has been getting to see the day to day work in the different SEARCH departments. Whether this means that they are filing and sorting papers or entering data into excel, it interests me just to watch them, to ask questions in Marathi and to see their response. I have noticed too that as soon as language changes, mannerisms change. This makes a different work experience than I have encountered before. I still struggle to translate my ideas quickly into Marathi, but I am sure that eventually I will improve.
As we gear up for the next few months, I am sure they will be the most challenging, but perhaps the most rewarding. At least we have a good foundation to start with.