By Kathryn James 


As I sit here with Rosie one hour before everyone is awake, I look into the Himalayas, reminding myself that every time my mind wanders I should be in the moment. Forgetting that time, missing certain foods, and thinking about what friends are doing at home all contribute to me not being in the moment. 
This trip has challenged me mentally—both mental and physical exhaustion, an excess of travel and jet lag. Jet lag hit me like a train this year. It was a hard tdecision to make: should I sleep on the bus or stay awake, look out the windows to the towns, colors, people working—and all the puppies. I looked out the window. I paid attention to how the mountains are all angled, wanting to touch them all myself. It made me think about my family and how much I wish they were all here to experience all these opportunities with me. This puts me up to the task of living for all of them—living for my parents, grandparents, and brother, living for the ones you love so they can experience what you do. 

back to basics—

Suman’s house is made out of cinder blocks and wood: a simple structure with normal features we would see in a western built house; slots of wood make up the windows and stacked pieces of cement secure the structure—a simple and logical build. Why do we avoid the natural, simple things in life? We are always removed, covered in plastics, preserving a fake lifestyle. We rush to put braces on kids’ teeth, train kids in six different sports so they can be the best and most well-rounded. We have a society that believes if a child has too much energy or too much curiosity it is best to dull their spirit with controlling medications so that child is able to maintain the (100 MPH, fake) lifestyle and meet our version of perfection. But where is this taking us? It seems most high school students are tired and depressed, not curious or interested in their studies. If that is the case, wouldn’t it do us some good to go back to basics, promote some curiosity and love of life? What is the point of “perfect” if no one really enjoys it?

It takes a village—

A simple touch is a sign of love. Humans crave the feelings to love and to be loved by others. Talking to the locals who spend 365 days a year in Agora, it seems that they all have a sense of love for one another, nature, animals—even the soil that grows their food. The phrase “it takes a village” explains Agora in the simplest way. All love and care for one another, whether through sharing land, food, or taking care of each other’s children. All of these actions are love. This past week was spent with our host families showing their love. Every night we would gather at our respective families homes, having conversations and trying to help cook. The people of Agora have been so welcoming. That’s love too. 

New Delhi—

Driving through the busy streets of New Delhi I saw many chickens stuffed into cages on the back of a cart. Feathers flying everywhere, I realized this particular scene was a great metaphor for Delhi: crowded. I was on the bus for the majority of the day, looking out the window, observing the bright colors, loud sounds, and bitter smells. 
At home I get so busy that I often forget about all the moving parts around me. I miss opportunities by not paying attention. On a normal day I run to school, complete my four 75 minute classes, and sprint to lacrosse practice. Then I drive home at 6:00PM. I realize this is a frantic way to live life. I love participating in global education trips because they allow me to catch my breath. The constant run of home drains me physically and emotionally. Traveling to India allows me to notice how special life is and how important it is to love to live. While I’m often busy, it’s important to sometimes take the time to realize all the special moving parts and to realize all the opportunities amongst us. 

11 responses to “From Kathryn’s Journal”

  1. jrhomer Avatar

    Thanks for giving us a lot to think about and reflect upon. I love that you are experiencing it all not only for yourself, but for your parents, your brother and your grandparents. I have a feeling that you are well ahead of many of us in appreciating “all the special, moving parts” and opportunities.

  2. Jeanne Avatar

    Thank you, Kathryn. A lovely mix describing the poetry of this trip and creating the images so that we may travel by osmosis. Enjoy the rest of your trip and thank you, again.

  3. jbyersccs Avatar

    Kathryn, you have captured the power of these trips in your wonderful post.

  4. David Berry Avatar
    David Berry

    OK Chica, I believe you have it down!! I did not get to that place in my head until sometime in my 40s!!!! Happy Trails.

  5. Jan Showalter Avatar
    Jan Showalter

    This is an excellent essay. Thank you to each one for sharing in heartfelt and unique ways!! I love them all.
    Jan Showalter (Angela’s mom)

  6. Dave's Mom Avatar
    Dave’s Mom

    Kathryn – So well done! Thank you for sharing so many of your experiences and reflections. You are learning so many of life’s important lessons earlier in your life than most. These will serve you well. You are so right to slow down, observe, discover, question but most importantly, appreciate and love.

  7. Ginger James Avatar
    Ginger James

    Awesome Kathryn! We, too, all wish we were there to experience. Thanks for sharing and passing the thoughts along. We love you and can’t wait to see all of your photos, videos and hear your stories. Peace be with you all!

  8. pkempe Avatar

    Sweet thoughts. Maybe your job upon your return is to figure out how to integrate as much of this “living in the moment” mentality into our everyday lives in the US…? I think you should tell Mr. Byers you are taking it upon yourself to address the busyness of the school day in hopes of finding some of this Indian simplicity…

  9. pkempe Avatar

    Also, the colors in this picture. Nailed it.

  10. Lori Lee-Clarke Avatar
    Lori Lee-Clarke

    Beautifully said my dear.

  11. aunt sissy Avatar
    aunt sissy

    Such sound perspective, such great advice. Such a beautiful thing that you can recognize what really makes the works go round at such a young age. Carry this wisdom wherever you go and you will be successful in any journey you take.

    We love you and miss you! I am so proud of you! safe travels!!

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