January 16 - Travel home and reflections on the trip

Before leaving for this trip, I watch the movie Outsource which is about a man that travels to India to train a call center that has been outsourced to India.  During one of the early scenes the main character is sitting at a "MacDonalds" ( he was searching for a McDonald's ) and has a conversation with a non-Indian man.  This man said " India stands for I'll Never Do It Again" to the main character while giving a sort of pep talk.  When I heard this in the movie, I thought it was funny but also I wondered if that was how I'd feel coming home from this trip.  After reflecting on this trip, I can honestly say I would DEFINITELY do India again.  After visiting a microscopic piece of the country, I could see how a saying like the one in the movie would be the thought of many after visiting, especially if the individual was not extremely flexible (everything is pretty much organized chaos). It would be misleading if I did not point out the major health and society issues that I witnessed.  Public health and human rights issues such as unclean water, public defection, overcrowded cities, extreme poverty, rapid spread of communicable diseases, unclean air, a poor sanitation system (we saw a handful of trash cans during all 3 weeks),  HIV, leprosy, and hunger are very real problems we observed on this trip that need to be fixed in India.  I never understood how much I take how clean our air in the US is until I sat in a rickshaw in the middle of rush hour in an overpopulated city and drove through a fish market in the hottest part of the afternoon that stretched for a solid 7 minutes where I truly struggled to take a breath.  There really are some smells that cannot be forgotten.

With such a large population of people, fixing these issues is a daunting challenge for health workers.  From an outsiders perspective, I think the changes will start when the cultural mindset and attitudes shift to healthy lifestyle practices.  However to really understand effective ways to carry this idea out, one would have to study the culture of the communities for longer than a few days to really be effective. 

While it is impossible to not mention the extreme negatives (aka the struggling health conditions) of the trip, it is equally as impossible for me to not mention how many incredible people we met and experiences we had. The wonderful hospitality we were shown by nearly everyone we met (Guest is God), the amazing food we ate (I didn't think I could ever crave curry/spices but I was wrong) , the students we connected with at Government College, and the relationships we formed as a group all made this trip an unforgettable experience.  I recommend this trip to any nursing student or person interested in learning about other cultures and getting an extremely authentic perspective. I know the goodness and kindness I experienced on this trip will change my life forever. 

 

 I thought it was fitting to start the end of our trip with a couple episodes of Always Sunny in Philadelphia to begin the 13 hour flight home because while I will miss the India experiences; I cannot wait to get back home.