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April 29, 2014

Global Citizen embarks to India

by globallyminded.wordpress.com

Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said,  “a journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step.”

Today, my own journey of a thousand miles begins as I step outside my house here in the San Francisco Bay Area; in a matter of hours and days, I will be transported by Boeing 777 across continents with a single hop — from SFO, to Dubai, then to New Delhi, then on Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh state nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India.

This journey is both personal and professional.  One might think of it as the Peace Corps for busy professionals.  I am traveling not merely to sight-see, though I will be doing plenty.  It is not just for my personal benefit but to serve others as a volunteer as well.

I will be working in a women’s empowerment center in lower Dharamsala, teaching English and basic computer and communication skills to women who might not otherwise have access to resources.  In so doing, I will help to empower a circle around that woman, the extended family that depends (directly and indirectly) on that woman for support.

I will be living among other volunteers — Brits, American, Aussies.  They are health professionals, and teachers, and students and assistants for people with HIV, and advocates for the disabled.

I also embark on this journey as a global citizen.  I seek to discover relevance and practical skills within globalization — for myself and for others.  These are the new life skills for living in a globalized world, to help us understand how to live, work, learn and thrive in an increasingly inter-connected world, an emerging global life that exists ever closer to the threshold of our own doorstep — closer than we think.

I will be coming into intimate contact with day-to-day life in another country — food, public transit, work, study, family life, a wedding, a funeral.

In so doing, i will witness what life is like in a hot, crowded, smoggy mega-city like New Delhi, as well as a small rural village in the Himalayan foothills.

I expect to learn something from India as the world’s largest democracy — on May 16, the elections in India, 6 weeks in the making with over 1 billion people casting votes, will come to a dramatic conclusion and the results will be announce, and I will be there in India as this happens.

I expect to experience how cross-cultural understanding is a two-way street:  today, I travel to a place like India and engage as a volunteer and serve and give of myself, sharing my own culture with others; at the same time, I end up transforming my own cultural perspectives of the world, shaping and inspiring my own understanding in new ways, developing an emerging sense of what it means to be a citizen of the world — or of any one place anywhere — one among many on this increasingly interdependent planet.

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