The Life You Change Just Might Be Your Own: Reflections from the DeSales Summer Service Trip to India

by DeSales Undergraduate Students | Aug 28, 2015

Selected reflections on the 2015 DeSales summer service trip to volunteer with the Missions of Charity in Kolkata, India.

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"I don’t remember what I wanted from this experience, but I can tell you what I've gained: perspective, confidence, love, friendship, and humility. I thought I knew what poverty looked like; but, once I truly walked through the city streets that doubled as beds for 17 million people, I realized that I had a CNN view of the world from my couch in my air conditioned house." - Becky

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"While working with the Shanti Dan women, I was forced to listen and really feel what the women were feeling when they were talking to me because of the language barrier.  I tried to read their body language and their facial expressions, rather than just hearing their words; I was truly seeing them." - Michelle

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"One of the things that hit me hardest was seeing young men my age ... It made me wonder why I was born into an American family and have more than enough food and clothes and can attend school, while some of my Indian peers will likely never get that opportunity and struggle through life day-to-day without running water. It makes me hungry to empower. It has given me a fresh perspective on the truths of the world and what needs to be done to improve them. " - William

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"I look back on what I accomplished in a week of service. It was all very… ordinary. I didn’t bring a woman back from the brink of death or teach children to be fluent in English. I made a lot of beds. I gave a lot of massages. I served as a jungle gym for enthusiastic toddlers. I painted older women’s nails. I washed unfathomable amounts of laundry. All of these could have been done by anyone. It is in these simple tasks that the true peace and purpose of service comes through." - Theresa

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"This trip will stay with me forever. In my future, I hope to always remember and pray for every single person who touched my heart while I was in India. In my future career as a nurse, I will look to each and every patient as having a part of Jesus within them and I will care for them after the model that Blessed Mother Teresa has left for us."  - Christina

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"Some of the women and children lead hard lives that I thought not even the strongest person could take, but they still held their head high and gave you plenty of love and respect if you were open to receive it. Even walking the streets I was surprised how friendly and welcoming people were to our group. I will always use this experience as a way to humble myself during different struggles I will encounter." - Sianta

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"Keeping these memories with me are key to becoming a more humble, thankful, grounded, and understanding individual. And I know they will help me more easily care for and not be afraid of the poor, homeless and disabled, especially when I begin to work in healthcare. " - Beth

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"I might only be one volunteer that comes in for a week to help, but what is inspiring is that I am one of many volunteers, and new volunteers will continue to keep coming every day. The Sisters have no idea who is going to show up every morning in the volunteer area before everyone disperses to their different sites, yet they have faith that it will all work out in the end…and what is amazing is that it does." -  Ashley


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Tom McNamara
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DeSales University
2255 Station Avenue
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Tom.McNamara@desales.edu