By: Jackson Kiland
Coming to India, I did not know what to expect. I had visited Guatemala twice with my mom and once with my sister. This trip would be the first time I have travelled to a different country without my family. So I was expecting to feel lost or disoriented in this extremely unfamiliar place. I was wrong. I immediately felt comfortable and a sense of belonging. Even though at times my shirt was drenched in sweat, bed was covered in sand, and had to practically sit in the trunk of a car for 12 hours, I felt unusually comfortable in a place so far away from home.
I am thousands of miles away from my family, yet feel their support. When I look into the eyes of people here I see my family. While we were in Pancheshwar I noticed a sister caring for her younger brother. When I looked into her eyes I saw the same kindness and responsibility my sister, Isabel has. During my morning walk through Agora a group of boys were playing with sticks. One of the boys noticed that I was a foreigner, and when he looked at me and I saw the same energetic and playful eyes my brother, Cameron, looks at me with. Women in India seem to do more work than the men. Looking into the eyes of the mothers that carry backs full of crops up steep mountains reminds me of the strength of my mother, and how everyday she works hard to provide for our family. In Pancheshwar after a hot and exhausting steep hike, a father with a beautiful and well taken care of house offered us a place to rest in the cool shade. He brought out fans, snacks, and chai, not sitting down until everyone was content and taken care of. His firm handshake, hospitality, and gentlemen-like care reminded me of my dad.
Family is a big aspect of my life and makes up a good chunk of my identity. From family dinners to playing in the front yard with Cameron and Isabel to late night talks with my mom and dad – they give comfort and keep me grounded. This trip has been the longest time away from my family and I am now entering a time in my life when I won’t have them around all hours of the day. While being in India I have realized that the values I have learned from my family can be found everywhere in the world, like I’ve started to find through my host family in Agora. Throughout my life, I know it will be important to find these values in future places and people I surround myself with. My family keeps me grounded and has given me my identity, strength, and confidence to go out into the world. I am thankful for my family, and the ability to find family in places far from home.