Impressions of India
SPU students share memories of India — and why the children made a big impact
After seven weeks in a muddy monsoon season, eating rice and curry every day, and struggling with a language barrier, students on a Seattle Pacific University summer SPRINT team say the hardest part of going to India was leaving.
SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout International)
is a short-term, student-led service organization. The seven women on the SPRINT team partnered with the Dalit Freedom Network
and taught various subjects six hours per day in schools primarily located in the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. They also learned how to play cricket, form relationships with few words, and meet Jesus among those of the Dalit, or “untouchable” caste.
SPU junior Liz Andes says the children she met will motivate her in future service endeavors. “I’m not doing things just for ‘the children in India,’” Andes says. “I’m working for Pavan and his smile. I’m working for Rakesh, who loves WWF and card tricks. I’m changing the world so that my new friends have a chance at a better life.”
Coming Back With New Lenses — Ellen Pew
My entire idea of life was challenged when I saw a family living in a pile of garbage and a man with no legs trying to crawl across the street in traffic. There is no way to understand the incredible joy in the children’s eyes, or the screams of delight as the rickshaws drive up in the morning to take them to school. But after spending most of my summer in India, my desire is to take people there in any way I can, whether by pictures or stories, or a one-way plane ticket. It is incredible to see what is happening in that country. It gives me hope and guides my prayers as I pray for the Indian children I’ve fallen in love with.
Education: Giving Children a Dream — Micaella Verro
I didn’t expect to learn the rarity of education. Many of the Indian children, especially the Dalit kids, don’t attend school. They are taught that they are worth less than animals, and have no hope for the future, just because they were born into the Dalit caste. Thanks to the work of humanitarian organizations such as the Dalit Freedom Network, schools for these children are opening throughout India. The schools focus on teaching the children that they are loved, special, worthy of every right, and can succeed. Ask Dalits with no education what they want to be when they grow up, and they typically won’t answer, not believing they can achieve anything. But the kids in our schools want to be doctors, engineers, teachers, or policemen. These kids have a dream. That’s a victory!
So This Is Why I Came to India — Liz Andes
Members of my SPRINT team and I were hanging out with the boys at one of the schools, throwing the Frisbee and watching cricket, when an amazing monsoon rainstorm started. Within 10 seconds, the rain was pounding. The boys ran under the overhangs as I decided this weather called for dancing. I twirled and twirled as the water beat on and around me. The boys stared, and I continued to dance. I could see their eyes beg to join me. A few seconds later, Pavan, a tall, slightly goofy but absolutely beautiful ninth-grader, ran toward me, jumped into the rain, and screamed with joy. Soon, every single one of the boys was out, shrieking and splashing in the torrential downpour. The playground turned into a lake, and we rolled around in the water and went mud-sliding. There is nothing better than mud-sliding in a warm monsoon with Indian kids! I really thought my heart was going to burst, it was so full.
To learn more about the Dalit people of India and this education- and advocacy-based freedom movement from the caste system, visit www.dalitnetwork.org