It is cold here and eerily quiet. Somehow, the chaotic city I left behind in January feels mild and appears infinitely more organized. Self-consciously I wonder if this means that the city now regards me as the tumultuous one – it would only make sense. I talk patronizingly slower now, use shorter sentences, and exaggerate all of my hand gestures. Habitually, I even elongate the pronunciation of my words and overemphasize the letters “l” and “m”. I continue to procrastinate unpacking the single carry-on-seize luggage that I lived out of the entire semester. Not because it is a difficult or time-consuming task, but because when I unzipped my suitcase I found that it smelled like India. And, I am just not ready for that to change.
Admittedly, I expected life to stand still while I was away. A slightly selfish and greatly impossible expectation, I am now left with the task of adjusting to a new normal. In order to navigate this “new normal” I must re-evaluate what I want my role/place to be. I mean . . . I too failed to remain the same. I arrived back to New York blessed by experiences that shaped my understanding of friendship, hospitality, courage, and the value of education. My teachers: Akash & Suraj, the women of Vijayagopal, the Tiger Group, the Avanti Fellows, and the Sustainable Social Change Family. Half of a world now separates me from almost all of these remarkable and inspiring people. It is difficult not to fear what comes next.
A poem by Mira Malathy, a fierce twelfth standard Tamil student, reminded me to push past my anxiety –
“My aim is to become a I.A.S officer.
I know that my dream is big,
but I should have to achieve that.
Many kind hearts are there to help me.
I have to utilize their help to grow.
Many struggles will come in between,
it is okay. I have my strong mind.
If I may fail at my first step,
I will not give up my ambition.
I have my own slogan in my life
that is “heart-ly faith never
falls or fails” I hope that
I will achieve my ambition one day!”
These last four months in Qatar and India were only the beginning – a first step. The second is carrying forward the legacy of sustainable social change in the United States.
Along the way, I am certain “many kind hearts are there to help.”
– Alexandria Hernandez