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by Gabrielle Young
Everything about this trip is new for me. This is my first time on a plane, leaving the country, and experiencing a culture fairly different from mine. I come from a family where travelling is a luxury that rarely occurs. The farthest we’ve travelled as a family has been to our cabin in northern Michigan or to Ohio. I had never anticipated going on a trip like this one day, but here I am. To have the opportunity to go across the world, to India, and experience something so different, I am so grateful but yet so nervous. Navigating through the airport alone is a struggle, and I feel a big weight on my shoulders to not mess up and to make it to India safely. When I get on the plane, however, I feel a rush of excitement for what’s ahead.
When I land in India, it’s real. I’m here, in a new place far from home. I’m greeted by other students on the trip, and I’m comforted to know that others are having the same concerns as me. Walking through the airport, I hear people speaking a multitude of languages, Hindi and others I cannot recognize. Being in an english-speaking country my whole life, I am reminded that I have to be concious of how I communicate with others who may not speak english as fluently. We meet our tour manager for the rest of the trip, Alok, who kindly welcomes us with flower garlands, a common gesture in India. The staff welcome us and offer to help in any way, and I feel comfortable and less nervous.
As I settle into my room for the night, I reflect on what has brought me here and all that I have to look forward to. I feel noticeably different, and people look at us since our apperances are so different. However, I also feel so welcomed by the people we have met so far. I think about all the new places and people I’ll meet in these next few weeks, and a lot of my worries wash away. I’m in India, and I can’t wait to explore and learn more about this country and myself.
It is the midpoint of the trip, and I’m already learning so much and experiencing more than I had expected. When I landed and had my first day in India, I didn’t have as much culture shock as I thought I would. I owe that to the constant support from the staff and students on this trip. They have done a lot to make us feel welcome, while explaining everything around us. While the food, the sights, and sounds are all new, I feel comfortable where I am being surrounded by kind and inviting people.
The first week was a great introduction into the culture of India, so that we can gain some context for when we begin our touring of the healthcare facilities. We’ve visited Agra, Jaipur, and now we’re in Delhi. In Agra, I was surprised by the presence of major monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, but still some rather underdeveloped areas just outside. In Jaipur, I felt like I was in a major urban city. I’ve been able to observe the variety of communities in India, as a result of the large population that exists here. Seeing the monuments has been a fun, yet informational taste of India.
As we began our first day at Salokaya College of Nursing, I was again reminded of the kindness of the people here. We were greeted with flower garlands, food, tea, and introductions from all of the teachers and administrators at Salokaya. They showered us with thanks for coming, which I felt was unwarranted since we will gain so much more from them. The next day, we visited Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Delhi, and it was quite different from any of the hospitals I’ve experienced in America. I have challenged myself to walk in with an open mind to what policies and methods exist in Indian healthcare. We still have so much to see and witness in the various healthcare facilities, and I’m excited to continue our journey!
Yesterday, we had our last day of the trip and we have finished our time in India. I’m sad to be leaving such a great group of people and a wonderful country. This trip was not only important for my growth as a student, but also as a person.
When you are entering the medical field, it is important that you learn about the patients that you are serving and the communities that they come from. Experiencing new cultures and learning about the populations and the issues they face is so important to being a compassionate and understanding healthcare provider. That’s why I am thankful for this trip, for proving me the opportunity to visit hospitals and learn from nursing students about the communities in India and how our healthcare system compares. I can use this knowledge to better myself as a student, and prepare for a future healthcare career.
I have noticed the growth I have experienced as a person while on this trip. I entered afraid to even navigate through an airport, to being confident in my abilities to connect with someone of a different language, culture, and background. I learned to accept the differences we may have as nations, but there is always more that we share. At the end of the day, both of our countries love and care for their patients, and both have friendly, welcoming, generous people. Doing things a different way, or different from the standards that you are used to, is not necessarily wrong. In Indian hospitals, some of the methods and health standards were different from ours. However, they still serve and care for hundreds and thousands of people daily. I learned to be more open to change and difference, and even more eager to explore new communities and cultures around this world.