Sunday, June 1, 2014

Contrasting Circumstances

After spending nearly two weeks in various parts of India, I have gained a sense of value and appreciation for numerous things that I know I take for granted in America. At the top of this list is education. I have been fortunate enough to attend school since the age of 5. By excelling in high school, I was then blessed with the opportunity to earn a college education at East Carolina University. For many of the children in India, the educational situation is bleak. In areas that we have visited during this trip, I have witnessed more children working or begging to support their families compared to those who dress up to attend school on a daily basis. Many families here simply cannot afford to send all of their children to school, which serves as a serious problem that stems from financial issues. I regularly notice individuals here cherishing rupee coins that they may find on the ground or receive from venturing tourists. Conversely, the majority of middle class Americans these days don't even carry around coins anymore.

Additionally, I have noticed the inaccessibility of clean water all around India, especially in Varanasi. This is clearly a major problem for all of India's inhabitants. The night before we set off on a dawn Ganges River boat ride, I was advised by an experienced traveler who also stayed in our hotel to cover a cut on my leg with a waterproof bandage. When I asked him why, he told me that if water from the Ganges River touched my cut, I could be vulnerable to developing a number of bacterial or viral infections, including polio, from the water. This shocked me. Thousands of Indian natives bathe in the Ganges River every single day, but if I even touched the water, I could potentially develop a fatal disease. This terrible situation almost seems unbelievable and I wish I could help bring about some sort of positive change...

Experiencing these stark differences between India and America have allowed me to develop a sense of gratitude for being able to sustain a pleasant life in America. The things I have seen during this trip to India have forever changed my perception of life.

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