Updated: Jan 25, 2020
This summer I got the opportunity of a lifetime. Through the organization I have been actively volunteering with - VTSEVA, I got the privilege to travel to India to give back to the community. I got to volunteer my time in 3 different schools, in Allampally and Hyderabad, Telangana, Vizag, Andhra Pradesh, and Hyderabad. There, I got to work with so many amazing kids, 2 of the schools were Schools for Visually challenged, and the other was School for Tribals. I have made so many memories and this will be an experience I will never forget.
We got to play games with the kids, interact with them, teach their classes and do homework with them. The first leg of our trip was to the Nethra Vidyalaya, School for Visually challenged, Hyderabad where most of the students were from the ages of 18 to 22 years old. At first I wasn't sure how to interact with the students because they were visually challenged. But the students were so excited to talk and they had so many questions about America, what is school like, the Government system and the Presidential election. Their English was so good that I felt like I was talking to one of my friends back home in America. They were so excited to talk and I had such a normal conversation with them that I forgot that I was talking to someone blind. I left the classroom with a smile on my face and my heart filled. I don't know what about it, but talking to those students and answering their questions made me feel so good inside.
From there we took a 6 hour bus ride to Allamally where the School for Tribals is. When I first met the kids in Allampally I knew right away that I was going to have a lot of fun. As soon as we got out of the bus, they came over running saying “sister, sister, brother, come play with us” These kids were so sweet and kind, they wanted to buy us stuff from the market even though they had so little themselves. Even though their pockets were empty, their hearts were full. The time I spent in Allampally, I will never in my entire life forget. Even though at times it was difficult to understand them, and they couldn't understand me at times, I had so much fun that words can’t even describe how I felt. I've never felt so happy in my entire life. From the moment I first met them, they treated me like I was their sister, held my hand, watched out to make sure I didn't step in puddles or cow dung and invited me in their houses for chai. Saying goodbye to those kids was so hard. I had to fight back tears because I didn't want to cry in front of them. I grew so attached, that I didn't miss the internet, or my phone, or even a decent bathroom. I didn't even mind sleeping on the floor with bugs everywhere. At home I complain about the smallest things, I find enjoyment by being on my phone, scrolling through instagram or listening to music. But none of those things have ever gave be more enjoyment and happiness than spending time with these kids and seeing them so excited to participate in the activities we planned for them.
- Nikita Chepuri