Katie Osterhage: Pre-departure Reflections

When I mention my plans to move to India for a year, I typically get one of a number of predictable responses: “Oh, that is really exciting!” or ”What a great experience that will be,” or a blank stare followed by “Why would you want to move to India?” and perhaps followed up with a call center joke.

I’m excited to return to: vibrant colors, incessant noise and busyness, head bobbles, the range of intense scents encountered on a daily basis, and even the curious stares from strangers. I’m excited to do meaningful work with SAATHII, an organization working to increase HIV prevention and care in India. I’m also excited to live in Chennai, which I imagine will be quite different than other areas I’ve visited. When I was in India a year ago to collect data for my master’s thesis, I felt like many of my experiences were on a surface level. This time around, I’m hoping to experience India beyond the surface level.

Obviously I hope that my project with SAATHII will be productive and that in some small way, it will be helpful to marginalized groups of people. On a more personal note, my primary goals for the upcoming year are: to learn something new each day, to be sure to look for a positive in all situations, and to consistently maintain a blog. I would like to blog not only so that I can better reflect upon and remember my experiences, but also so that I can share my experiences with friends, family and anyone else who stumbles across it. Perhaps in doing so, I can contribute to people knowing more about India than just call centers.

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