India | Cultural comparisons between Mexico ECS and India ECS
Ali G. '18, Senior
March 12, 2018
Our ECS revolves around service and besides building toilets, we visited a special needs center. We spent a morning learning and playing with people with Down syndrome. The lady that was in charge/owner of the center talked to us and told us the background of her establishment. This center was established in 1998 and started out very small. She started with about seven students and started it from the ground up with no help from the Indian government. Now she has 50 students! She told us that started this center to prove to others that people with special needs aren’t completely worthless, but that they have a lot to offer. I found what she said to be awe-inspiring because she sees good in everyone. This center is completely financed by donations, and we were given the opportunity to buy something from their little store. Their store consisted of jewelry, clothing, paintings, and many of the products were handmade by the students. Then it was time to interact with students. I was shocked at how welcoming they were. Many came up to me and shook my hand, and many pulled us onto their benches to sit with them. I have worked with people with down syndrome before on a past ECS in Mexico. So I was able to compare and contrast these interactions. In Mexico, the students were younger, they were way more affectionate and didn’t speak much English. At this center, the age range varied, the students were affectionate but not like Mexico, and some spoke English and understood it quite well. However, at both places, I found it interesting at how everyone is involved in activities and how it’s so easy to make connections. The students at the Indian special needs center loved to play with balloons so we blew up balloons for them and hit them around. Then we had a dance party and many of them had dance moves to show off. All in all, everyone’s eyes and hearts were open to these people. It was a mentally draining day, but everyone was able to learn and experience something that they haven’t experienced before.