By Lucia Rodriguez
As I sit on the sand, I think about how a week ago I knew none of the people I’ve been lucky to meet on this trip so far. I listen to the sound of the river and feel thankful to have made so many amazing connections. None of these are the same, and yet they have a common quality – they have all made me feel incredibly happy.
Some of the connections I’ve made have been extremely short-lived, and others have lasted for days (and will keep going), like the one with the girls from the small village of Khan Kot Tall. I felt the kindness of these girls when we held hands for hours while they showed me the place they call home. I felt their generosity when they blessed me with special gifts such as flowers, fruit and their version of ice cream. Finally, I felt their bravery when they decided to go into the river for the second time in their life, trusting me to teach them how to swim and keep them safe.
Even though the girls only knew a little bit of English, we managed to play games and have conversations about school, family, and favorite foods. We built a friendship for many hours and even called each other “bahein,” the Hindi word for sister. These girls made me think about how deep a connection can get in just a short time.
Other connections I’ve made were created in and lasted for less time though. After hiking for several hours on my day as leader, the group arrived in a small village perched on top of a ridge. We interacted with a few locals there. These interactions lasted no more than a few minutes but they demonstrated the kindness of the locals. It filled my heart with joy when a group of women invited us to sit and talk in their house, when a man offered us water and when an elderly woman led us towards the right path back down to camp. They all cared about a group of people who they had never seen before and they managed to offer help and kindness despite the fact that we didn’t speak the same language.
All of these connections, no matter how long or short, have had a great impact on me. They have changed my perspective on people and made me realize how valuable relationships are in life. As I sit on the sand and listen to the sound of the river, I feel grateful to know I will make many more like these.