Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 Opening Ceremony (Matthew, ILR'16)

Entering India, I had no idea what to expect. I was especially nervous about how the locals and the people associated with the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) were going to view us. Although our preparation course informed the group about what we were going to experience, there is no way to sufficiently prepare us for what we were about to see. Simply put, I was shocked by the generosity and acceptance that the people at SVYM showed us upon our arrival.

After two long flights from New York City, my group, which included half the members of the trip, arrived in Mysore at around 8AM in the morning. Despite being exhausted, we were quickly shown our rooms and a few short hours later we were ready for the Opening Ceremony. Hazily, the group walked the short trip from the hostel to the school and we were greeted by a number of the employees at the Vivekananda Institute for Indian Studies (VIIS). They put jasmine flowers around our neck (one of the best items I have ever smelled), placed bindis on our foreheads, and gave us maroon and blue SVYM hats. Additionally, we were given small chunks of sugar as part of the beginning of the ceremony. After feeling dazed and tired, the smells, tastes, and smiles certainly woke me up. The group took a few pictures and then entered inside the VIIS building. Dr. Balu, Donna, and others warmly welcomed the group with short speeches about how much fun we were going to have and how much we were going to learn in the six weeks we would be in Mysore. Finally, five candles were lit by different members of the group to close the ceremony.

Although I was the most tired I have been in my entire life, the arrival to Mysore was exciting and inspiring and it was the perfect way to start an incredible journey in India.

Darmesh (right) giving Mallory, Steven and I our SVYM hats.  I wear mine most days here.
Phoebe (left) and Kenyatta (right) holding the small amounts of orange sugar we were given to eat.  It tasted like rock candy!
Members of SVYM welcoming Andy (far left), Jeffrey (middle) and Katie (right) with bindis and jasmine flowers.
Katie (left), Gabriela (middle) and Ashley (right) with bright smiles and beautiful jasmine flowers! 

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