So it has been 6 days in India.
it is still incredible. there are some things that are still so strange to me.
AIESEC in India is one of them. There is such a different mentality here than in the States.
Background to how I found this out: I went to a conference in Delhi this past weekend, kind of last minute in fact. (And by last minute I mean they called at 11pm on Friday for us to leave at 6am on Saturday.) It was LCCON for AIESEC Delhi University (@DU), their local conference/congress that takes place twice a year. (Similar to ROKs except only with one LC). It was in a Public School Complex in an outskirts village in Delhi, and by village I mean thatch and mud huts, cows and buffalo everywhere, women in full veils, naked children playing in a stream village. The conference was neither organized nor motivated, no one wanted to be there and none of the issues they discussed in their Learning Networks discussions were irrelevant, and even worse, not up to date. Then there was, like at any @ conference, dancing. And if you know me – I love the dancing. But they were different – even NumaNuma and Cotton Eye Joe. I wasn’t granted the chance to teach them Bebot.
The one saving grace of this conference was the presence of DU’s trainees – few of which were @ers, but all had more @ spirit than most of the @ers from Delhi. There was a tangible divide – @ers would not talk to the trainees, no matter how hard we tried. Complaints were not answered, and any attempt to learn about Indian culture was, for lack of a better word, thwarted. Many of the trainees were meeting the others for the first time, and did not know that there were other trainees in the area for them to either hang out with or travel with. The point of the conference was to allow more interaction between the LC and their trainees, but failed miserably in the attempt.
The closing dinner was what really killed it – we sat through nearly 2 hours of @ers toasting themselves on their great achievements while most of the weekend had only brought out their faults. Imagine, being a trainee in a completely unique and foreign land, and feeling that the people who brought you there were not interested in your safety or well being but solely that you had increased their exchange numbers, and then listening to them gloat about the advances and superiority of their LC and its members. All of the trainees left the dinner because of their frustration, and then proceeded to attend a fantastic trainee party, complete with Spongebob mascot. I had a lot of amazing conversations with people from around the world- the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Bulgaria, Sweden, UK, Canada (one of whom knew the @GT kids that went to CNLDC!!), Poland, and the Netherlands. I was listening to them talk about their experiences, advice on where to travel, and their plans for the rest of their respective traineeships (most of which were at least 5 months, some as long as 18 months!). That made me feel so much better – at that point I was still unsure if I could last 10 weeks – I was homesick and freaked out and absolutely exhausted, but now. I think I can face it.
All in all, an eye-opening weekend. I hope that I will not face the same challenges in Chandigarh, although I am sure I won’t to the extent that the DU trainees have. I start my CEED on Tuesday – and I have so many ideas on how to get involved with the LC to improve them and myself. Being with another LC makes me miss my LC even more – they are like a second family, and it’s the longest I have been in quite some time not seeing them. I know that I can become a better @er through this, I just have to figure out how.
Travel News: Going to Amritsar and Attari this weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited! It is going to be beautiful. We are going to the Golden Temple and to see the Closing of the Border Ceremony. There will be pictures soon, and more stories. If you ever travel – get a Lonely Planet Guidebook (even the locals use them here), it will be the best money you ever spent on a trip.