It was almost six months ago or even more that I first heard about Nina. In one of her early emails to us she simply wrote: I am taking a year off because I am planning on going to graduate school next fall (2009) and thought this was the best time to do it, I have always wanted to spend more time in India as my parents and extended family are from there, but I was born in the U.S. and have only ever been there to visit.
To many this may look just like innocuous words , but they struck a deep chord within me. I always feel deeply moved when young people feel the need to find out their roots as it echoes an important part of my life when I sought to do the same. And what touched me even more was the fact that this young woman decided to reconnect with the land of her ancestors not by flitting around cities and places of touristic interest but by spending time with the most deprived and sharing quality time with them. Somehow intuitively she had understood where the real India was.
Nina walked into our hearts and very quickly adapted to our ways. After a few days spent in getting acquainted with the project it was felt that she should teach English to our teachers and also help us work out a curriculum for the primary classes. A pattern set in and Nina became a part and parcel of project why. She also has been busy helping us make presentations and now even handles visitors with great aplomb!
I have always warmed up to young people who take time off from their studies or other commitments to reach out to the less privileged. I am convinced that this makes one a better person as it helps reconnect with one's self and discover who we really are. Sadly young Indians have not understood this.
As I watch Nina go by her activities I realise how important volunteers have been to us. They have each brought into project why something special and unique and made us that little bit better as they more than anyone have perfected the heart of seeing with their hearts.