I remember visiting my best friend, Jen, during her first year of teaching 1st grade.
I got there around noon so the kids were just finishing lunch and lining up at the door. They were wiggly and animated and not ready to settle down and start working.
Jen was obviously accustomed to this so she asked all her students to gather at the carpet to do a quick check-in before she sent them off to their seats.
One of her students, a six-year old Indian girl, lingered around near the door. Close to where I was standing. Probably curious why a girl who looked like her – but, perhaps, sixty times larger than her – was visiting their classroom.
Jen called her name from the carpet and she quickly scurried over to join her classmates.
The check-in required each student to go around the circle and say, “I feel ________ because __________. ”
The first kid said, “I feel excited because we had extra time at the playground today.”
The next kid said, “I feel tired because it is hot outside.”
After a few students shared their feelings, the little Indian girl was up. She quietly whispered, “I feel excited.” Jen prompted her to continue by saying, “You feel excited? Why do you feel excited?”
“I feel excited because I am going to India tomorrow,” she responded.
Her eyes met mine and there was a sparkle in them.
We stared at each other for a few seconds and then the next student began his turn.
At the end of the check-ins, Jen walked up to me and whispered, “She’s not actually going to India tomorrow. That was her way of connecting with you and letting you know she was Indian too.”
It warmed my heart.
It made me a little teary-eyed, to be quite honest.
This little Indian kid had probably not seen many other Indian people. Aside from her family. So she jumped at the opportunity to connect with me. Another Indian. Because we had something in common. And she recognized it and wanted me to recognize it too.
It seemed so cute. Childish. But cute.
Something that is expected of a six-year old.
But I’m brought back to that moment today, as a woman in her 30s, because I experienced my own, “I’m going to India” moment yesterday.
We have two Indian faculty members at the vet school. Both from India.
Last night, our Associate Dean had a Halloween party at his house. And both of them showed up. One of them brought his wife and his two kids.
And I was over-the-moon-ecstatic.
I felt like I was with my family again. Speaking to them about Indian food, where our families were from in India, all things brown-and-proud.
I felt a sense of pride when they asked me if I spoke Hindi.
And I felt a kind of connection that I haven’t experienced in a long time.
I am, obviously, well adapted to living somewhere where there aren’t a ton of Indian people. But when you stumble upon people who have the same culture and background and upbringing you did, it just fills your heart in a really special way.
It’s funny looking back at that moment in Jen’s classroom.
At the time, it felt so silly. And childish.
But, the truth is, no matter how old we get, we are all seeking connection with the people we come across.
Whether it be in the form of race or ethnicity, a career or a common celebrity crush.
We all want to feel connected.
We all have our, “I’m going to India” moments.
Connection is why we are here. We are hardwired to connect with others.
Question of the Day:
- Tell me about one of your, “I’m going to India” moments.