By: Cameron DeVries

Why does the sun rise every morning, or the moon every night? Why do rivers keep flowing or plants keep growing? Imagine a dog in Agora, quietly wandering its way into camp, only to loudly knock over the trash can and search through the miniature landfill in hopes of snagging any possible morsel of food. The dog is quickly shooed away by the watchful human opposition, and the trashcan is set upright again. Barely anything was achieved on the part of the dog, yet in a few seconds it returns, mind set on accomplishing that one thing, even if the same obstacles are faced every time. These are examples of resilience, something found in many aspects of life here.

It all started when we were woken up to go on a hike in order to meet the Muslim water buffalo herders, and to learn more about their unique way of life. “It’s an easy hike!“ they said. “It’s not too far!” they said. For starters, from the moment we set out on our journey, the sky had opened up to unleash a torrent of rain. At first, we stumbled our way down the manageable downhill portion, struggling to avoid slipping on mud or rocks and end up tumbling our way down the mountain side. Over time, it slowly got worse. Downhill turned to constant uphill, leaving our legs burning, despite the ever present frigid rain drenching us. After a while, we reached a small wooden house where we stopped for lunch. Our contentment with a fire and warm Maggi noodles to eat slowly slipped away as we were enveloped in a continuing nightmare. We had heard the stories of leeches in the area, but many of us had not encountered them until now. The first leech appeared on Erin’s shoulder, slowly inching its way upward as if climbing a mountain. As we all turned on our lights to look around, one leech turned to multitudes of the creatures, seemingly emerging from the floor and increasing in size. We quickly decided to abandon the house, going back out into the cold, legs and socks now covered in blood from the horrific attack. After that, it was smooth sailing – just a bunch of bloody and muddy travelers climbing endless rocks, trying to avoid slipping or sinking in the mud. No matter how much we complained, the experience was definitely a memorable one, and we all made it in the end.

Thinking about the people of Agora, especially the women, they seemingly endure worse hikes than this one all the time and at a much faster pace than us. This is while they have pounds of sticks, manure, or other luggage strapped to their backs. To me, this shows that one of the main themes to be found in Agora and similar places is resilience. The very nature itself shows resilience in its cycles and ways of existence, how the world continues to spin despite all its changes. On that Earth, we see examples of resilience everywhere. From the dogs who attempt to snag some food over and over again, to us as visitors who must find resilience to adapt and survive in this new environment, to the locals who have extreme strength to live and work there every day, I see resilience in life. As we leave Agora, I think that we should consider what values or ideas we can glean from this place and take back home with us. Even back home we must adapt and overcome difficulties, so if we are able to take even a little piece of our experience in Agora back with us, I believe that being able to dig deep and find that resilience we have seen in India will serve us well no matter where we find ourselves in life.

8 thoughts on “Resilience

  1. I love this really thoughtful post, Cameron. I like all the big questions you open with, and I love your exploration of the idea of resilience. Your description of the leeches made me both chuckle and gag. Come on home, and bring some of that resilience with you. As you have already figured out, it will serve you well.


  2. Cameron – EEEWWWWE. Leeches😱. How horrifying!!!!!! Would have been the end of me, for sure. 😫 You and your merry band of adventurers certainly did and do have resilence, which is a super power that will serve you well on this journey called life. Bravo!!!


  3. Thanks, Cameron.
    Agora strong! It is a mindset, a culture, a necessity, a pride, a bond, a skillset. Remember, they often do it all while singing and smiling. Bring some of it west with you. Good luck at Dickinson!


  4. Cameron, a great theme and an important one. Also brings back memories of the leeches we encountered on the trip in 2015, which separated the resilient from the faint of heart! Ask Mr. Alter to tell you the story of the “salt sisters” if he hasn’t already done that. The leeches drove them to Rikishesh of all places. PS…the picture of you and Nicole with the elephant is priceless.


  5. You can remember the memories on this hike and bring them into personal situations in the future. I love the fact you are storing these memories to potentially endure future situations.

    Love the description of the leeches!!


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