I’m sitting on the bus to Bangalore right now looking out at the run-down buildings, waving to the all the curious smiling faces and thinking how familiar this country already feels. This last week at Rising Star with the seventeen Indian girls has been one of the most emotional, raw, and empowering weeks of my life. Reflecting now, I have witnessed so many beautiful moments. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this trip and didn’t know how I was going to make a difference in such a short period of time. But now I know I did.
I think one of the greatest take-aways for me this week was watching the girls grow more confident in themselves. One of my penpals, Fasitha, was one of the quieter girls in the group. I was always encouraging her to express her ideas and asking her questions about her family or school, anything to get her talking. Last night after dinner, she was eager to introduce me to her sisters and cousins among all of the other children hugging me and wanting to know who we were. Today during the clinic, Fasitha and Papitha organized a shooting drill for the other girls. Fasitha was at the front of the line instructing them how to properly kick the ball. I was so proud of her for taking the initiative to share what she had learned. She came up to me right before we left, gave me a huge hug, looked me right in the eye and said, “I’m going to miss you so much Sarah. Thank you for coming to India.” After being a part of the clinic today and the scrimmage against the boys team from Pathway yesterday, I know these girls will continue playing soccer, even with the boys. They have improved SO much in their soccer skills and their laughter and high-fives was all I needed to know that I had had a positive impact.
Quick recap of today: It was our last morning at RSO and we attended an all school assembly before scrimmaging NC vs. WA/OR. The RSO girls joined in later too. After a tearful goodbye, we hopped on the bus. So far, we’ve stopped at two Hindu temples and a silk shop in Kanchipuram. It’s hard to think we still have over half the trip left and I’ve experienced so much of the Indian culture already at RSO. I’m going to miss all of those girls but I cannot wait for the experiences in Bangalore and Delhi!