Overall, my experience in India was great. But, of course, who wouldn't have enjoyed an opportunity to travel abroad and experience a totally different culture. Moreover, as a foreigner exploring India made things seem fascinating. I loved the fact that we got to spend time outdoors and really engaged ourselves within the local village (Kereri Village). However, I would have liked to have had a better knowledge on the Indian culture, so as to better understand the people and their experiences. I also would have liked to have established a personal relationship with the families that we were doing service work for; I think it would have made the work feel more meaningful.
The food was great, the staff even better because they were willing to answer any questions I would have, and provide further explantions. They were also very inviting. For example, I got to spend time with our cook for the camping part of my experience. He taught me how to make certain Indian cuisines, and through my time with him, I was able to better assess the cultural values of Indians, and that they are certainly no difference between an average person (only that there may be a language barrier).
The most inspirational and somewhat saddening part was really experiencing the poverty of the country. Since you are not really living there as a normal citizen would, it is hard to really grasp the intensity of the poverty level there, but to see children run up to your van, begging and asking, and even trying to sell you cheap balloons and toys would made anyone one sympathetic. These children often have no parents and must fend for themselves...it's really sad.
We saw the Taj Mahal, got to spend time with children at a local day care center (though because of the color of my skin, I was looked upon differently, compared to the other students), toured an ancient ruin, got to shop at really good high fashioned stores, visited the Dalai Lama temple, were informed about the Tibetan/Indian crisis (in Dharamshala). There was so much to see and love, especially waking up to the sight of the Himalayan mountains pretty much next to your window. I even got a haircut for 80 rupees, equivalent to $1.51 USD, plus they gave me a head massage.
I felt that we sort of spent more time relaxing than actually immersing ourselves in the culture, as I would have liked. Yes, relaxing was very....relaxing, but I wanted to become apart of India, not just be there. With that said, I had a great time in India and it certainly felt like a home away from home. I truly felt connected to the country and was saddened to have to leave.
Oh, make sure to book the group flight on your way home, you would definitely want to be with the people you have made personal connections with; lets just say that it won't be easy saying goodbye.