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Connecting beyond barriers

Anika Sharma

Newport High School

Washington State

Grade 10

VTSeva Internship Blog

From the moment I reached Allampally it felt as if all five of my senses were brought to

life. The cool night air spilled through the windows of the bus, as it came to a halt. My body stiff from the journey found its way by walking down the steep steps of the bus. I was immediately welcomed by the fresh scent of rain and the earthy fragrance of the damp dirt. Savoring the refreshing scent, I walked around the bus toward the Jeeyar Gurukulam school. In front of me stood two neat lines of smiling children dressed in red and white checkered uniforms. As my fellow interns and I walked through, their welcoming claps filled up the usually silent forest, and their soft, frail hands reached out to gently collide with ours. Standing in front of the Jeeyar Gurukulam steps my shoes submerged into the soft soil beneath me, paralyzed with the feeling of pure joy.

The VT Seva summer internship was a lifechanging experience that offered everlasting

learnings and memories. I am originally from Dehradun, located in the northern part of India, which is both culturally and linguistically quite contrasting to Hyderabad. Going into this internship I always had a feeling that my North Indian background would prevent me from connecting with the students at a deeper level. However, I was proven wrong. During my first day at the Jeeyar Gurukulam school, my fellow interns and I joined the students for yoga. As I began to sit down on the hard concrete floor, a young girl beside me clasped my arm and motioned for me to wait. Her ribbon tied pigtails gently swung back and forth as she got up. She quickly stepped off the white straw mat she was sitting on and slid it towards me. As I sat down on the mat and took part in the yoga session I was perplexed; someone who I had just met had made my heart feel the most content it had felt in a while. Taken aback from this experience, I was so excited and curious about what else Allampally had to offer. One evening, my fellow

interns and I were taken to the surrounding villages where many of the students’ families resided.

The sun was near setting as we made our way through their village. Students still in their school uniforms began spilling out of their houses and made their way to our lonely hands. One by one our hands were taken and later our arms were too. The students gripped tightly around me and began pulling me from one place to another, showing me their homes with excitement and pride.

A young girl, around the age of 10, firmly held my hand and began speaking in Telegu, pointing out in the distance. Her chestnut brown eyes sparkled as she looked at me expecting a response. Confused and slightly disappointed for not being able to understand, I let her know that I speak Hindi and do not understand Telegu. Her thin frail hand smoothly slid out of mine, and she disappeared into the thick crowd of people. My heart dropped as I intuitively continued walking forward. Less than thirty-seconds later my abandoned hand settled into the palms of a familiar

hand. One pair of chestnut-colored eyes looked straight at me. She moved her gaze to her friend she had brought with her and said something to her in Telegu. Her friend looked at me and began speaking in Hindi, translating what her friend had said. I forced out a reply, while internally I was in disbelief. The students at Allampalli are truly special, the love that they give cannot be described in enough words.

There are countless similar experiences that I could share, however it would take me

years to record them all down. There is a common saying that “love has no language” and I am blessed to have experienced this. The students at Allampally proved that language is just an excuse to function as a barrier in connecting individuals. In reality love has a language of its own so great that words are not required. Allampally and this internship made me experience true love, and I want to hold on to that feeling forever. Walking down the Jeeyar Gurukulam steps to board the bus back to the ashram, the air no longer smelled like rain or dirt, instead it smelt like home. Familiar smiling faces accompanied me towards the bus; their hands wrapped tightly around me to stop me from leaving. From the moment I left Allampalli it felt as if all five of my senses had left my body, but the love of the children remained.

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