In 2015 I was teaching Spanish at Scottish High International School, I had been teaching there for almost 10 months; I had reached a saturation point and I needed a change. As I have faith in prayers, I prayed for growth and change.
I landed up with an AIESEC project in Colombia for English training of the students in villages, I thought this would be life changing and I went for it. I used to be quite impulsive, an Indian girl travelling all by herself to Colombia without weighing her opportunities. What was I thinking? (I must clarify here “nothing”).
I went to Bogotá first where my cousin stayed, he came to pick me up at the airport, so I had safely landed in the Capital without any mishaps and warmly welcomed. I spent the first four days with his wife’s extended family and lived the culture with them at Villa de Levya, at his farm-house. I had fun time playing with the dogs, gently petting the horses, admiring the nature, interacting with the natives in Spanish and walking around the village. But the real movie was waiting to happen.
Four days later I landed in Barranquilla, the city where my project was about to get started, I came from the cold of Bogotá to the scorching heat of Baranquilla, I had high hopes about the project and dreams about my travels. Soon a month passed and due to some conflicts with the government the project was delayed by a month and I had nothing to do. The days seemed never-ending as I used to get up at 5:00 in the morning, meditate, do Reiki and after that Zumba. Generally, I used to be alone but I couldn’t travel around the city. I was told that you can’t use your phone on the streets as someone will snatch away, you can’t sit in the balcony and work on a laptop as someone will take it away on the gunpoint. Slowly, all my hopes had died as I felt caged into a 6*4 room and never allowed to explore alone.
On the other hand, though Delhi was highlighted all over the world for all the wrong reasons at that time, I had felt quite safe in Delhi. I had never worried about my phone or laptop or anything, no one had ever mugged me, also as I lived in Delhi I knew the places not to be.
I became a person who started feeling caged and my liberation used to be my host family who treated me like a daughter, loved me and nurtured me. When the project finally started I used to commute two hours back and forth to teach the students. The fact that I knew Spanish was a known fact to students, it crippled me and my job became tougher. I was never satisfied with my work, days and weeks passed and I only visited couple of places and my hopes slowly extinguished.
One day I decided to return home as I felt I had reached the black hole, I couldn’t see my growth and I couldn’t serve from the empty cup I had become. All I could think was why did I give up on a luxurious life of Delhi. So, I booked my flights back home and on the way I had a stay over in Paris, where I went to Notre-Dame Church and I met a father. I had the most interesting conversation with him, which went like:
Father: What is your confession?
Me: Nothing, I always saw people going to church and confess so I came.
Father: Still there must be something… tell me where are you coming from?
Me: From Colombia, it was hell of a journey, I still don’t know why I decided to give up, in my whole life I have never given up. But I felt like opening like an onion and then one day I reached bottom and there was nothing, so I knew the journey has ended, so it was time to go back,
Father: Wow, you are so young and you talk with so much wisdom and conviction. What you have learnt in last three months people don’t learn till their seventies. Then what is bothering you?
Me: I don’t know, I have never given up in my life, so what if I left something behind?
Father: Close your eyes, and tell me what have you left behind?
Father: You have your answer and you are on an amazing journey. Good Luck!
This confirmation which I had received from the father was symbol I was treading the right path.
Colombia taught me numerous things that teaching is not a profession for earning money but a profession where you drive satisfaction from the transformation of your students, which I didn’t know at that time but I am totally living it now.
Secondly, even though it’s the scariest place you will always find good and helpful people everywhere in the world. The more you overcome your fear the more you expand your comfort zone and your growth becomes humongous.
Thirdly, the travel stories are worth sharing, If I hadn’t hit the rock bottom at that time I wouldn’t have become who I am today.
Lastly, I was the first Indian girl on the Baranquilla’s AIESEC project. So I did make a mark. To summarize, the misadventure changed into a mind-boggling adventure.
No one knows the future, but you know your present so live for this day and do what gives you growth. Life is too small for mediocrity!