After wrapping up our week of touring various sites, it was finally time to switch gears and get back into school mode to learn about health care in India. On Monday morning, we headed to the Salokaya College of Nursing to begin our immersion with the Indian nursing students. Upon entering the school, we were welcomed with colorful Indian flower garlands and decorative bindis on our foreheads. It was exciting, and it truly warmed our hearts to see how much the school had anticipated our arrival. After meeting the founders and the professors (who wear beautiful sarees!), we were escorted to the lobby where tables full of traditional homemade Indian sweets and snacks awaited us.
With happy and full stomachs, we headed towards one of the main lecture rooms for orientation and for more introductions. The Salokaya students representing the different grades sat and waited for us. After joining the group in the heat and humidity, each of us went up one by one to introduce and say a few things about ourselves. Half-way through the introductions, there was a surprise Indian dance performance put on by three of the Salokaya students. They sang and danced with great energy and passion while wearing beautiful orange, white, and green sarees (the colors of India’s flag). Following the dance, all of the students–both Salokaya and U of M–divided into small groups for a chance to get to know each other better. They taught us some basic Hinidi words and giggled whenever we attempted to pronounce it. We discussed everything from Justin Bieber and Bollywood movies to more serious subjects like marriage. Some girls asked us if we could marry the person whom we loved, as most of them have arranged marriages.
After spending some time talking with the Salokaya students, it was interesting to notice the many parallels that we share as twenty-something-year-olds even though we come from opposite ends of the world. Can’t wait to continue this learning experience. This is just the beginning!
–Jenny (Gabo) and Veronica