By Angela Showalter
A quick story about the CCS students on our trip to India. In short, they were terrific. Not only did they jump “all in” to the experience and put themselves outside of their comfort zones daily to connect deeply with the place and the people, but they demonstrated CCS core values at every turn. I saw plenty of evidence of curiosity, integrity, self-confidence, acceptance and respect throughout the two weeks.
And I personally experienced their kindness in action.
On our last full morning in Agora, our small group that had chosen to stay in the village for the week hiked down to the river at the bottom of the valley for a swim. The morning was sunny and warm, and hiking through the terraced mustard fields was a rare sort of pleasure.
At the river, we scared a gang of langurs away from the bank and prepared to jump in. I love swimming in all sorts of natural bodies of water, but I can honestly say that this was by far the coldest water I have ever been in. So, so cold. Several days without a shower made it a prime opportunity for sudsing up on the bank with biodegradable soap and rinsing off in the clear pool. Some brave souls climbed a large boulder and flung themselves into the air, yelping into the freezing water below. Some of us rode a short, fast flume of water around the edge of the boulder. Others of us (Natalie) calmly bathed without shrieks or cries. Roy and Parveen roped up, and Roy climbed up and down the adjacent cliff face while the retreating langurs snuck back for a curious look. Afterwards we dried on the rocks in the warm sunshine.
We continued up the river, hopping from rock to rock. I noticed the joy I was getting from choosing good rocks to hop on. I felt confident and strong. Then I tried to cross a short stretch of the river, launching out across the water with my right foot. But the rock was unexpectedly wet. I slipped, and my right leg met the rock with sufficient force to create “a gusher” on my leg, as Mr. Goodrich called it. Blood pooled on my boot before I could even pull up my pant leg to check the damage. Two bad cuts.
Fortunately, I traveled with experts. Mrs. Smiley swabbed iodine on the cuts and patched me up. Mrs. Byers gave me a smooth rock to squeeze to counter the pain. I recalled my pain management strategies from childbirth. Mr. Goodrich documented the puddle of blood at my feet.
This was a painful episode, but I’m grateful for it.
Over the next few days I was touched by the students on this trip. At the river, Sally found a beautiful green feather and gave it to me as a token of the event. Ellie sat and squeezed my hand while Mr. Cola worked his magic back at the lodge, pulling back flaps of skin and washing suspicious bits out of the cuts. Avery, Caleb, Shaohan, Kelsey and many others checked in with me often to ask how my leg was feeling. They encouraged me and supported me. Amanda hung back to hike with me in the slower group.
Parents, be proud.
Avery said at one point during the trip, “I think we are doing it right.”
I couldn’t agree more.