While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be creative during the course of their studies and travels. When the students document these thoughts, we are often delighted with the results. In “Cycling, coconut boats and smiles” 10th grade student Sydney M. reflects upon the differences in her own American culture compared to that of the residents of Hampi, India, and although affluence is in short supply amongst Hampi’s inhabitants, smiles are not.
Besides the bumpy bus ride, I found this past weXplore trip to be an enjoyable learning experience. I loved being able to cycle in the morning to the ruins of Hampi, float down a river in a boat that slightly resembled a coconut and, well honestly, just being able to escape campus life for a couple of days. Along with the fun times there were many moments I found myself thinking. Thinking about where I am and what that really meant. Thinking about how perception really is reality, and thinking about where I come from and where I have been. All of these came together when we had a group discussion at the end of our trip. Led by Jarret and Cailey, we did a few exercises to get us thinking further about what we had experienced as travelers rather than tourists. They wanted us to think like locals, but still be able to question whether or not we will ever really be able to fully immerse ourselves in India and other destinations.
Then I began thinking about life in India, and how the people here spend their daily lives. We had the chance to walk around the area outside of our hotel, and what I felt right there was a perfect example of culture shock. I had never seen anything similar to the neighborhood/town/village that we walked through. The shops were small and in large abundance, all of them selling the same brands of sweets, soda pop, chips, etc. I wondered, “why so many?” but I was too distracted by a cow that ran into me to ask aloud. Quickly walking away from the moody cows, I encountered a river occupied by people washing clothes and taking a swim. This was also new to me, but so were the small, open houses along the muddy road and the families riding by, somehow all fitting on one motorbike. Yes, there are many differences in comparison to my culture and theirs, but when it comes down to it the people I met walking down the road all seemed to be happy. In fact, I probably saw more smiling faces walking down a small road in Hampi than I ever did walking down the streets of St. Louis, NYC, Chicago, Buenos Aires, or anywhere else I have been.