India Leadership Institute – Homestay Letters

(Home)stay. It’s unreal that I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of the mountains, and the grace of the people that reside in the Himalayan village of Satoli—the culture, the food, the traditions. Though pairs were split up with different families, the expansive cohesion between each and every one of the villagers and their children is admirable and made every moment feel like I was truly at home. 

Though the love from the locals was always present, I did long to hear from my family back home. My homestay mother’s attempts to speak English reminded me of my mom’s iconic Spanish accent that would 100% give Sofia Vergara a run for her money. And the delicious daal we all ate at Archna Ji’s reminded me of los quandules my abuelita would make me. 

In all, homestay will be an experience I will cherish in my heart forever because the people I have come to personally know and the too cute puppies I was lucky to pet will forever live there. This experience has enabled me to learn of the lives and the dignities of the people of a country that I did not know much about other than the false depictions that media portrays. There is incredible work being done in Satoli and the larger Himalayan community and I am so lucky to have been apart of that. Thank you Satoli, I’ll love you forever.

Written by Alexander Rodriguez, Experimenter

This is a heartfelt letter that I wrote to my host family on the melancholic last morning of my homestay. For nine days they took care of me, supported me, laughed with me, and talked with me (together we communicated in a mix of Kumouni, English, Hindi, and Charades). Yes, charades. Through their love, they reassured my belief that human connection isn’t dependent on language, color, creed, or religion, but simply a care for each other. 

Written by Justin Smith, Experimenter