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Koret Fellowship Program

Jonathan Herrera
Jonathan Herrera

Political Science & Philosophy major, Class of 2020

Honking horns, humidity and pollution was bombarded with as I first stepped outside the Mumbai International Airport. As we were driving on the freeway, I began to look outside the window of the van and was really confused as I did not feel safe or comfortable. Everywhere I looked, women and children walking barefoot, the houses were not the houses I recognized. But when we finally arrived to Bandra, where we stayed at a Jesuit Residence, I remembered that this was an immersion trip and realized how exciting it was to be in India. I have been to immersions in high school, but they are different. Immersions in high school do not emphasize the living with the people literally or living in conditions similar to them. College immersions really focus on immersing yourself and being one with people.

I really enjoyed the trip, but it was just difficult to go to a third world country on your first international trip. We would venture around the city, visiting Hajiali, Seekest, Buddhist temples, and the house of mother Teresa. In addition, we spend most of our time at Xavier Institute of Engineering School. I got to learn about many different students there who want to pursue a career in engineering and are doing so much to make their dreams come true. We got a tour of their school, they even had an assembly just for us, and had many different guest speakers from that institution.

Every day of the trip we had an end of the day discussion where we were able to give our thoughts about that day and it was just so hard every day to talk about the things we saw our went through. Once, we went to go visit a school, of very young students. We all interacted with them and I remember a student telling me, “I can go back with you to America.” My face remained at a pause because I did not know how to respond or what to say. This was one of the hardest parts for me on the immersion trip!

The friends I met in India was very fruitful because I know they will be long-term friends. For instance, we meet up with a Youth Group of a Church in India. We all took a boat and went to the Elephanta Caves. This place, is where I found peace and tranquility. The caves were old homes of monks. The statutes were very large, brown stone rock, and beautiful. I was able to meet a good friend names Jonathan, as well, and other students. The officers would stand around the wild monkeys to make sure they do not attack other people.

We started in Mumbai, but traveled to Versi and Talaseri, where it was more rural. This was the India that I picyured, no more honking, pollution, but still had poverty. One thing I noticed here and all of India is that the people are happy with very little that they have. No matter how they are dressed, or how they live, they remain happy. In the experience of this trip, I learned what real happiness can look like; I can be a better person and live life to the fullest! I can say that I would definitely go back to India, but at a slower pace next time.