Grade 11 student Nicole Boyd submitted the following report:
Twenty students, four teachers, fourteen days and not one dull moment. In the midst of the beautiful Aravalli Mountains in Rajasthan, India is where our family of twenty-four spent their days. I say family because the trip truly brought all of us together as one. We did it all, from making over 500 bricks to help build a school to riding camels into the sunset. As a group we embarked on a journey together traveling 11,462 km from home and made memories that will last a life time. We got the amazing opportunity to go to India through ME to WE and help build a school in a small village that goes by the name Bagar. Looking back on the trip now and explaining our group’s experiences is something I have great difficultly with because a trip like this is one that one cannot fully put into words but can only be truly understood when experienced. Despite this fact, I will try my best to share the moments when we laughed until we cried, when we danced until we dropped, when we pushed past our limits, and when we felt the most grateful.
A typical day of our March break in India started with morning yoga. This is where some of us got to watch the Indian sun arise from the mountains as we started our days. Now I say some of us because not everyone traded in their precious beauty sleep for a yoga mat. As the day continued we load onto the buses for a forty-five-minute drive to Bagar where we worked on building part of a school. Specifically we worked on three tasks to construct another classroom: making bricks to build a wall, making masala (a mixture of rocks, sand, cement and water) to make the floor, and pike axing to fill the floor. Together we worked in teams to get the jobs done and in the end we completed the floor of the classroom and made over five-hundred bricks for the school. Although most of the time spent at the school we were hard at work, we did have time to connect with the community and play with the kids. Regardless of the language barrier we managed to make many friends. Speaking on behalf of the group I’m sure I could say that the time we spent with the children were some of the best moments of the trip. Seeing their genuine smiles reminded me that what we were doing was truly making an impact, and the amount of love and kindness around us was something I will never forget.
When we were not present at the worksite we spent out time exploring and embracing India. This included getting our hands covered in henna, learning how to Bollywood dance, exploring the Udaipur markets, playing competitive games of musical chairs or cards, visiting forts and temples, making samosas alongside the wonderful Chef KK, experiencing Holi, India’s celebration of colours, journaling and discussing our thoughts, riding camels and laughing with one another. Additionally, one of the major highlights of the trip was being able to meet Craig Kielburger the founder of ME to WE. Craig Kielburger travels three-hundred days a year and the chances he was present in India the same time as we were was a true gift. The opportunity to hear his story and how he started a now global charity and enterprise was incredibly inspiring. Having the possibility to acquire knowledge from Craig himself about the world we live in and how we can all play a part in making it better was something for which we are all thankful. As young students, we have yet to fully explore the world we inhabit, but the determination to make a change that Craig heightened in us is something we have had no trouble bringing back home.
All the students on this trip attend Mentor daily where we learn a vast amount of subjects but what we learnt on this trip is something that can’t be taught by any textbooks. You can only read so much about improper water sanitation, children who cannot get an education, or families that lack basic necessities. To see it first hand and imagine living in their shoes, developed a new sense of gratitude for the lives we have the opportunity to live. Despite the fact, that we all do not have control over what we are born into, we do have control over how we use and help with what resources we were given.
The India Trip of 2017 is a journey we all hold very close to our hearts because of the relationships formed, the knowledge we gained, the laughs we shared and the impact we made as a family. I strongly encourage you to get involved in your community, whether that is volunteering at your local food bank or raising money and awareness for villages in poverty through Me to We. I would like to leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa Craig shared with us that stuck with me “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love”.