Exchange experience of a new season

It’s been five month and 20 days since I am back in home. I still remember the time when I left Namibia carrying lots of thoughts in mind. How will I adjust back with the environment? Will it be easy for me to accept my past? Will I be able to accept the change within me that took place within last two years? How will I balance myself?

But I was quite surprised. As soon as my flight landed at Mumbai, all thoughts that were troubling my mind just disappeared. At first I received the feeling of security, feeling of coming back home safely! The most important thing that I realised about myself in living these past two years in Namibia. I have turned into a new personality. As I have mentioned earlier I have learnt to be flexible and adaptable and these two qualities have helped me to complete my two-year contract and these two qualities are helping me to settle back into my home country.

In my two-year volunteer experience with VSO I understood that sometime it is not easy for everyone to accept a new culture, but once we start living in it we learn to accept and adapt; we get used to the new system. The process of change was quite similar for me on my return home.

Accepting change

When we begin our volunteering assignment, I think the difficulty that we all face is very natural. It’s like when a new season sets in… at first it’s always little difficult to accept the change. Once we get used to it and then it’s easier. First of all one must understand oneself and what culture one belongs to? And then try to understand the perspectives of the other culture. According to my experience, I would say that as soon as you enter into new culture you must remove the Indian cultural perspective glass from your eyes and be open to learn other side. For example at first I have been critic to the Namibia culture, unknowingly I was criticising the life style of people, started comparing India to the Namibia, but soon I realise that I  should not put the other culture into measurement of judgment. Soon I realised its limits my growth, it becomes a block to know the side of other society well. 

Now I am at home and when I think about my work, I feel good about it. I have learnt a lot from the people and shared what I have. It leaves me with a very warm feeling in my heart.

A dream come true

I had a dream to cross the Indian and Atlantic Ocean, dream to touch the sky and to know the world across the river. One day my dream came true, with the VSO, I had an opportunity to work in Africa. It was a wonderful work experience and personal learning opportunity .Both because of all this and in spite of all this; I learned the power of the human connection. It is possible to understand one another and to share something of our variegated experiences despite differences in culture, in nationality, in religion, or in age. It is often easy to forget that there are Indians or Namibians when we are swept up in the rush and excess of modern India. Indeed, in many ways, living in two developing countries on two continents in two years was the best balance to my college education and also professional experience.

This is a small “Mantra” I carried with me while leaving India that one of my friend gave to me. He said:

Go to the people
Live with them
Learn from them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have
Teach by showing
Learn by doing
No showpiece but pattern
No odds and ends but system
Recognise potential
Reward responsibilities
So that when the work is done
And its time for you to leave
People will say
“We have done it ourselves”.

Rashmi Kedari
VSO volunteer

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