Applying for a trip to India is surreal enough – getting an email notifying you that you’ve been selected to attend is a whole other level. Boarding a plane to go to India with a group of people you barely know is one thing – ending the trip with 18 people you just shared the experience of a lifetime with is another.
When we landed in Mumbai, every single one of us had to continually remind the other, “We’re in India!” It’s hard to wrap your mind around something so incredible. And yet, there we were – jetlagged, sleep-deprived, and ready to go. We immediately headed off to meet the JYP – Jewish Youth Pioneers – at the Mumbai Jewish Community Center and had our first Indian meal. Though the initial adrenaline keeping us all awake was beginning to wear off, the bonding between and within the two groups – the American group and the JYP – started strong.
We toured through Mumbai, endured an…interesting drive down south to Chiplun to spend a camp retreat with the JYP, and connected throughout Shabbat. It was amazing to watch how quickly we all became so close to one another. Whether it was taking walks, having debates about any and every topic possible, or just generally learning about each other, we grew to know each other well. This trip was all about the connections – to learn about another group of people that fundamentally were the same as our us (being Jewish), but still so culturally different. And on top of that, learning about the diversity of Judaism just within the American Jewish community.
The last night in Mumbai was one filled with bittersweet moments. Some of us were flying back home, some of us were extending our trips to see more of the incredible country we had the opportunity to get a taste of. It’s safe to say that all of us were in shock at how quickly our time in India had passed and how easily we all became comfortable with one another. We’re continuing to keep in touch with each other – including the wonderful JYP students that we met in India. This was an experience that will be hard to ever forget, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to be a part of it.
N. Sahar Somekhian
Junior, Studio Art major