By: Kendall Cochran

Strength and Welcome

At Dodital, there was a peaceful cold – even though I was ill, I knew I was meant to be there. On this trip, I often experienced feelings of belonging; but at Dodital those feelings were at there strongest. Dodital is one of the most holy places in India. Hindu pilgrims from across the country come to experience the place where Lord Ganesh got his elephant head. When we arrived at sunset I could hear bells ringing. Further in, I came upon the temple where saw my fellow travelers, Hindu worshippers, and could hear the priest chanting for the pooja the prayer.

On the way back down the next day we stopped in Manji, one of Agora’s summer villages. We were welcomed by Praveen’s relatives with a cup of chai. Praveen said the summer villages the most beautiful place he’s ever been and the he’d like to die there. I’d have to agree minus the dying part. At the summer village I felt accepted. They had wooden long houses with thatch roofs, cows and water buffalos lived inside too. No electricity just fire and isolation. No roads just the land. People go there for the cooler climate and abundant natural resources.

I woke up in Agora after the hike and the watched the fog climbed up the valley. The day was dedicated to the giving back to the community that so kindly welcomed us. I spent half the day with Nicole and Ms. MK at Suman’s house making chapati. I learned that Suman’s mother and wife tag team to help each other with the kids and the house work while Suman is out working they are such strong people. The second half of the day I spent with my host family. We ate lunch and played dress up. After that I helped a woman carry bag a vegetables up to her house and helper clean the vegetables. Again I thought that this was such a strong woman. She had to carry that load from the lodge to the end of the village. Doing these things, I felt I was a part of the community.

Strength and welcome is what I have been feeling through out this entire trip. Staying in Agora and seeing these people take us in and welcome us with open arms felt amazing. The woman in Agora carry hundreds of pounds on there backs across the village, and if they have to, up to the summer village. In America some people are not as accepting and would not welcome you if you just showed up on there door randomly. It takes lots of physical strength to carry hundreds of pounds on your back but it a also takes a lot of mental strength to push yourself to keep going. I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to meet these people.

5 responses to “Strength and Welcome”

  1. Mr Cola Avatar
    Mr Cola

    Remember all of what you wrote and have felt when you help create an environment for your hall and the overall community this school year. Intentionally using the spirit of Agora, and Maj’s mentorship, as guides will help you take CCS to a more healthy and truly accepting place.
    No pressure, just inspiration and mindset. Think about it as you return to the Bay. Make a plan.

  2. Kristin Kiland Avatar
    Kristin Kiland

    Kendall, I’m sorry you were ill, but I’m impressed with your persistence through discomfort and it sounds like you are using your mental strength, too!

  3. Mollie Brumfield Avatar

    Kendall, it makes me happy that “my host family” had the opportunity to know you! Those small acts of love- playing dress up, carrying a heavy load for someone, helping make chapatis, and even doing dishes are everything and nothing. I love that you have been part of everything, nothing and all of the layers in between.

  4. jbyersccs Avatar

    Kendall, this is a great piece. You make is so clear how the people of Agora are role models for living in their “simplicity”, which is really just another way of living as complicated as ours, but probably more focused and authentic. We DO have much to learn from Agora, as Mr. Alter’s piece also pointed out. And the summer village–a place like no other a place to just be. Peace.

  5. Rosa Cochran Avatar
    Rosa Cochran

    So proud of your openness to learn and to be completely involved in a new opportunity.

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