April 2017 Alumni Spotlight
LEAP Academy Class of 2014
My Experience with the TEACH and Discover India Trip!
During the winter break from January 3rd-15th, 13 other girls, our director Professor John Quinesso, and I went to New Delhi, India. India was such a life changing experience. I was there for 12 days and went on excursions to Humayun’s Tomb, the last residence of Mahatma Gandhi, and the Taj Mahal. We travelled the golden triangle: New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. We made stops along the way at small gift shops, fed monkeys and cows, and sometimes just to enjoy the view. During this teach, I was able to teach fourth grade students at the BAAS Educational Trust School in Gurgaon, India and the Diane Raj School in Bharatpur, India. We met with and were given tours by amazing guides who really helped us understand India’s culture and political stance. One of my favorite parts of the trips was when we went to Shiv’s village, Siras Village. Shiv was one of our tour guides. This time in the village was like no other. We got greeted in the traditional Indian way where they place a red dye bindi on your forehead. They even went all out and gave us hand-designed scarves while Shiv’s assistants threw flower petals from the top of his home. Sleeping in the tents was an interesting experience and we had some accommodations that the normal village people would not have, so in a sense it brought me closer to what they actually experienced in a way. Walking through the villages was very insightful. I got to interact and speak with different members of the villages and see the homes of some very humbled and hospital families.
Seeing that they barely had anything and still offered us food was just incredible. The people were so excited to see us because we are the only Americans they really see every year because of the TEACH and Discover India trip. This trip showed me so much, and helped me realize that you have to make the most of what you have. The people we met on this trip did so much just to make their own families happy. Teaching in the schools was also a rewarding experience because I was able to get out of my comfort zone and think of activities on the stop. A lot of the days were unexpected because I am a Secondary English teacher candidate and I taught fourth grade students English and math. I believe this experience changed me as a person and as a future educator. It helped establish the fire I have for teaching others.
LEAP prepared me for this experience through their drive to get me to reach my highest potential. I was always challenged at LEAP in my academics and when I wanted to stop or when I felt like things were unfair, I was always told my one of my teachers, or my college advisor, Khary, that I have to keep going. They believed in me. Do not get me wrong, I was a good student, but I had experienced things at home that were starting to affect me in school. My friends and the staff at LEAP helped me through those problems and guided me through the rough classes and even pushed me through the easy classes when I got uninterested. The faculty and staff at LEAP knew what I could possibly be and they made sure that I never forgot that. I am a Puerto Rican woman from Camden, New Jersey and part of the first generation to go to college in my family. Now I am about to be a senior graduating with two degrees and with experiences just like that one I had in India.