Anganwadi's of India - My Family Travels

The older I became I found myself reclassifying things I do and participate in. A trip to a neighboring city is no longer considered traveling, but an errand. And when the Army sends me across the country it’s not an adventure, but training. I regularly find myself wanting to go abroad where I become the outsider. Pico Iyer once described his travels as a place where,“[they] stay up late, follow impulse and find [themselves] as wide open” as falling in love. Yet, for my life…my life just seems to get in the way. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if the checkpoints in life (like college) are the necessary exposure needed to a twenty something year old. Finally, nearing a “quarter life” crisis I began my own travels.  I traveled to the foot hills of the Himalayans Mountains of India. While in country, I worked with different Anganwadi’s (day care centers) and conducted medical check-ups of the children. Over the past summer I participated in a program with a non-governmental organization group titled Cross Cultural solutions which offered volunteer work in the country of India. Myself along with another volunteer conducted medical evaluations for children ages one to thirteen. After receiving medical training from local doctor about prevalent issues that children faced in the area, I travelled with an interpreter to neighboring villages and conducted over 80 free health screenings during a period of three weeks. Although we did not prescribe medication or treatment during the evaluations, we did refer any ailing children to the appropriate physician to save costs and time for the families. One of our focal points was on dental hygiene and to create awareness of health issues with the children, teachers, and parents where possible. Lastly, I feel that my ability to understand foreign cultures had grown tremendously. We traveled to the Pakistan-Indian border and the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and visited Buddhist monks in Dharamsala. Culturally, I feel more versed and developed as a person and leader. It was a phenomenal experience sharing my life with others and having them share theirs with me. I look forward to traveling to other countries in the future. Next stop for me is Cuba this summer and soon after my graduation from West Point in May of 2011, I will find myself at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro ready to tell my next tale.

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