Last night, when walking back to my home from campus after office hours, I noticed something a little extra on the air. I'm still not entirely sure where the smell was coming from, but there was something in the combination of dry Texas dust, the finally above freezing air, and the exhaust of cars going by that, for a split second, took me back to that moment I first stepped off the plane in India.
I was in the country for such a short period of time, but it has made an impact on me that I can't even begin to see where I'll end up. My coworker asked me in the office yesterday, "So what's changed?"
I drew a blank. I didn't know what to tell her.
That I feel guilty and convicted now for spending an evening watching television?
That now when I only have Starbuck's hot chocolate as my option for a hot drink in the office, I picture the small kids in Mypadu running barefoot through puddles of dirty water, and struggle with handing over my money?
That I am having trouble motivating myself to work on my thesis not because of laziness, but because I now know for sure that academic writing is not where I am called?
That I am, in so many inexplicable ways, longing for the beauty, the grace, and the love of community that I found in India?
Any one of these is a blog entry in of itself, and I will cover many of them over the coming months. My friend Chase and I turned to each other at several points in the trip and said, "There's a blog entry in that." There is something to interpreting one's experiences for another person, in writing down what you see and drawing a lesson out for others to learn. This is why I was drawn to the study of literature and writing in the first place, and this is why I will never fully get away from it - and don't want to.
So I want to thank you, my dear readers, for willingly taking this journey with me, for supporting me as I raised money, and for challenging me by asking me "What's changed?" Hopefully, you will see in the coming months what has changed as I push myself ot make a difference for the brothers and sisters I found in India.
This is a far more personal entry than I normally do on this blog, but I felt it right to kind of spit out all the things I have been thinking about in this week since I've been back. There will be more entries about events that happened, the people I met, and what changes it is causing me to make in my life. Please stay tuned.
For now, it may be good to reveal in short some resolutions that I have made in my life (I was there over New Year's, after all):
-No drinks will be purchased from any major companies. This pertains mainly to my addiction to the Coca Cola Company products, but also (and I need more pressure on myself in holding to this one) coffee companies (even if it is fair trade), and bottled water. I've already broken this one several times since being back, but now that I've settled in to home again, intend to hold to it. If you see me with a Starbuck's, Snapple, or anything non-water bottle (meaning the one that I fill at home), feel free to bring it up to me. (See here as to why not Coke).
-No television except for: House, Project Runway, and the Daily Show/Colbert Report. I do believe that occasional mindless entertainment is a good thing, especially when I need a break from my thesis. An hour of "news" in the evening, and an hour of extra programming two nights a week should limit my TV consumption to a much more reasonable level. Part of me also wishes that I didn't need to be on the computer so much to do work for school, but, alas, that is the case.
-No more justifying buying questionable brands simply for expedience's sake. This means no Nestle, no Kraft, no Tyson, no GE (lightbulbs), no Tyson chicken, and as little of the Target off brand as I can, and more of the regional/local brands. This means, the next time I go shopping for clothes, I'm checking thrift stores first, and avoiding the Gap company/the mall as much as I can. This means paying attention to how the food I'm eating got to my plate even more than I was before. This means being militant about not only what I put in my body, but what I spend my dollars on. This is an extremely hard change to make here in Waco, but I am convinced it is possible, and with your support, I can do this.
I have been saying it over and over again, but what we do in America has a direct correlation to how things are run in the developing world. If we continue to create a demand for slave labor goods because the prices are cheap, we will never make progress in eradicating slavery. And that breaks my heart, knowing that I am implicit in the problem, and that it is so hard to be a part of the solution.
Do your research.
Challenge companies to transparency.
And know that the dollars you spend do make a difference.