India 2012-2013
Hello! I will be traveling to Udaipur, India, located in the northeastern state of Rajasthan to work with a local NGO, Jargran Jan Vikas Samiti. I'll be assisting them with their structure, fundraising, and any other role they need me to play. Watch this space for upcoming experiences and adventures! Read More About Brent →

Walking Far From Home

India has a lesson for you, whether you want to accept it or not is your decision”-Sarah Davitt, ProWorld coordinator


This quote was prominently in my mind while I was preparing for India. It stuck out to me while I was talking with Sarah about basic preparation for coming to Udaipur. Now, after being in India for about a week and a half, I’m beginning to realize how difficult this will be. It’s not a quiet, safe learning environment where your participation is optional, and the teacher doesn’t care if you show up or not. You are pushed beyond your comfort zone constantly, and the only way to learn from the experience is to accept and adjust. Also, avoiding this type of education isn’t an option because the car horns start going around 6:30 or 7:00 AM.

Living in a new country isn’t easy. You have all of the normal issues of moving to a new city. Physical orientation, social norms, food, acceptable traffic behavior etc.. All of these will change whether you are moving from the Midwest to the South or if you are going from Fulton, Missouri, USA to Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. However, when you add centuries-old issues, the role religion plays in Indian society, the lasting impact of the caste system, and a new language that is far from Latin-based, it starts to feel a bit overwhelming.

Western-mentality and dress may still be working to continue colonization in India, but Udaipur at least, remains a rich environment of Eastern beliefs, traditions, and practices. I’m currently in the process of learning, understanding, and remaining flexible to it all. Luckily, I’ve got a great support system here that is always giving providing advice about Udaipur’s food, Indian Standard Time, how to get better when you get sick (shout out to Sarah for rushing me meds!), and always giving chai with a smile, a tradition I’m hoping the West starts to incorporate.

Taken next to Shri Manshapurna Karni Mata (aka the Rat Temple). Approximately where the Old City and New City meet

In only a week and half, I’ve managed to see and do some incredible things already. I’ve taken a boat on Fateh Sagar (one of Udaipur’s lakes), saw traditional folk dancing in the village of Vali, visited Shri Manshapurna Karni Mata (a temple that overlooks all of Udaipur), learned some basic Hindi, and saw a Hindi movie. I’ve been chasing after any type of culture I am able to experience. This has happened while simultaneously going to my internship 6 days a week at Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti (you can call it JJVS or Jagran as you like).

JJVS has been functioning as an organization since 1985, and they are involved with a variety of projects including: traditional medicine, education, microfinance, watershed preservation, and various other empowerment programs for villagers. Everyone in the organization is truly dedicated to their work and has been very supportive of me as I try to solidify a project. Also, the massive knowledge base they have is incredible and is one of the reasons they have been able to help nearly 1.5 million people throughout the life of the organization. Currently, I have been researching potential funding resources for Jagran, but I am hoping to also include some involvement with project implementation. Fingers crossed that I’ll have more direction next post.

Ultimately, I believe one of the greatest challenges while living abroad is being able to look past the superficial differences in a country and learning to understand the culture as a whole, not allowing yourself to stare wide-eyed while thinking to yourself “How weird is that?” Through this process of adaption and assimilation, you are able to grow personally, mentally, and professionally. This is one of my optimistic outcomes I hope to achieve by the end of my 3.5 months here. For now, I’m going to continue being a sponge and absorbing as much as possible and discovering what I can along the way.


Lake Pichola

11 thoughts on “Walking Far From Home”

  1. I’m impressed and proud that you chose to enrich yourself culturally, socially, and globally at such a young age. Godspeed globe-trekker! Tell Prabhu Deva I said hello.

    1. This is my first time using WordPress, so I’m going to say it’s temporarily not available haha. I’ll look into activating it for you.

  2. Wow, Brent, this is fascinating and I am so proud of you for what you are trying to accomplish. Keep up the great work. Love You! Aunt Rita

  3. Make sure you find the hottest dubstep spots. And use plenty of sunscreen! You’re making the Dream Team proud. -E

  4. Hey Brent! Glad to hear you are doing well and experiencing a lot! Hope your bout of disease was not too bad! Looking forward to your future posts.

  5. Great post! You’ve got a good perspective on getting the most out of your experience. Love, Peace and Good Health!!!

  6. So proud of you Brent! Miss you here at home but it sounds like you are doing great things so far abroad. Don’t forget to bring me back some chai. I love chai.

  7. Hey Brent,
    I’m one of the other Lumos volunteers. I have family in the Southern part of India if you decide that you want to travel down closer to Trivandrum. Let me know if you want to visit! Good luck on your endeavors!


  8. Glad to see you finally had a chance to post! I hope you’re feeling better. I need you in good health if you’re going to track down some quality rocks. Any chance we can get your address so we can send you a thing or two?

  9. Thanks for sharing, cuz! Sounds awesome, and I’m glad you’re having such a great, mind-expanding experience! Have fun!

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