Sunday, December 11, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

India is definitely not a place where life is easy. In fact, spending time there has made me realize just how easy my life has been. It's not easy for the people who live there, that is evident. I have seen more hardship than I thought I could handle. But even just the short time I spent in India, I faced my own trials, and they each taught me something. Here are a few of them:

Squatter toilets- I got really good at holding it, I now have the bladder of a champion.

Language Barrier- I now know that as cheesey as it sounds, love can be accomplished without words

Missing my family- i think I will appreciate them more now, having ha a taste of what my life is like without them. I have been blessed with an incredible family.

The mouse in my room- it ate through my bag 3 different times, ruined my clothes, and when I thought I left my nemesis at the NHPC, it proved me wrong by hitch hiking in my bag. I was personally victimized by this mouse, but it taught me to not pack such irresistible food.

Leaving my kids- this was by far the hardest part of my journey. In the all-to-short time I was with these sweet little kids, I absolutely fell in love with them. And they lovingly tolerated my craziness. They taught me to wear my heart on my sleeve, laugh loud and freely, trust myself, and be grateful for all that I have. They have next to nothing and they are some of the happiest little kids I have ever seen in my whole life.

I could fill up pages and pages with how much I love these kids, and in my journal I have. But that is not the point I want to emphasize right now. The hardest things are almost always the things that are the most worth it. After our lengthy, uphill hike in the beautiful Himalayas, after seeing the sunset on the top of one of the highest mountains, this rings more true to me than other. I couldn't have gotten to that beautiful place without the hard work that got me up that mountain, nobody could have. I also couldn't have gotten to India without some very hard work, the love and generosity of others, and more luck than I could ever deserve. It sure as heck was not an easy trip, but it was so, unbelievably worth it.

Sarah Price

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What a wonderful world

My thanksgiving moment happened yesterday as we spent the evening on the top of a mountain and ours eyes gazed on range after range as far as the eye could see, a magnificent sunset, and a sky so full of stars that it threatened to burst. Being among such desirable company and such humbling scenery was a profound experience for me spiritually. I want to express my overflowing gratitude for the multitude of blessings that I have received. This experience has been more eye opening than anything and nothing could have been more eye opening than spending time with the children from Nihan. The beaming boys and girls that stole my heart haven't left my thoughts since we said reluctant and tearful goodbyes. Last night I dreamed that I was still in Nihan working and playing with Gopal, Rakesh, Raman and the other beautiful kids. As I woke up early and went to take in the still starry view, I felt my heart grow a couple sizes just like the Grinch and I know that I will always have room for all the beauty I have seen and felt here in that new space.

To my family and friends: I can't tell you in words how strong my love is for all of you. You have been there for me through struggles in my life and know that I will be there for you in anything you need. I'm sorry that I missed you this thanksgiving, know that I am thankful for you and all you do to bless my life. I hope you found at least one thing to be humbly thankful for this year and I challenge you to find one everyday of the year. Mom and dad thank you for the letters, they meant more than you will ever know.

-All my love, Gardner

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I don't know that I would say India has made me into a different person. My overall goals and dreams remain similar to what they always have been; my desire to help those in need when ever I am able and to do my best at what ever endeavor I undertake, still lives within me. India has however given me an education, not only by means of my observance but by the everyday interactions I was privileged to have with those whom we worked with, for, and along side. This was with out a doubt a life changing experience. I am physically minutes away from my home yet mentally I am minutes away from the close of what has been my life for the last ten months, the questions in my mind; what to do, who to help, and how best to do it. Peace.



Over the past two weeks I have been in one of the most hectic, and filthy places in the world, with an immense poverty rate and nothing I really wanted to go see or do. At least that was my view before Ymad. But now I've changed, I've changed for the better. This trip has changed my thoughts about my family, my home, my country, and especially my outlook on life. I saw 42 amazing kids over the past two weeks. These are kids that I grew to love. I saw their eyes light up each day from me just being present in their lives. They played in the dirt with tattered sweaters and shoes that don't fit, but there was always that same grin and light in their eyes. This light changed me and inspired me to be a better person. Jyoti means light and light changes one day to the next. Light represents a new day, a clean slate, and for some a new life. A new life was created for the kids through many amazing service hours from the YMAD organization, but the kids have created a new life for me and it is one I will live to the fullest.A new life full of service and love, but most of all of toughness and strength. Every time I'm going through a trial, I will think back to those kids and whatever hard thing is in my path I can and will overcome. And I'll do it because of the light in the eyes of the children of the Kalsuin school in northern India. My heart is full and I'm forever great full to everyone who made this expedition possible, but most of all I am thankful for those kids who show all of us that we can be the light and change we want to see in the world.


Zachary Johnson

Laughed and played, twirled and danced

I knew it would be so hard to say goodbye. Even though we had only spent five days with the kids at Sahoo I had built such strong relationships with many of the kids. I started to cry Monday morning as I knew it would be my last time with the kids. We were told that we should try not to cry as to not confuse the kids. The day was just as amazing as all the others. We laughed and played, twirled and danced as to keep the smiles alive. My best friend and didi (sister) Riya twirled around my finger for the last time. Unlike all the other schools our translator did not explain to the kids that not only would we not be returning tomorrow but we probably would never see each other again. That was really hard for me. When I said goodbye the kids in Hindi would say "see you tomorrow" and in my mind Im thinking no, no you won't. So many of the kids have such great potential and are smarter than I ever was at their age. In one of our workshops the kids wrote what they wanted to be when they grow up; it amazed me that so many want to become teachers because they value what they learn so much. I would do anything for them. They have been such an inspiration to me in my life. I think of what little they have yet they are happier than I have ever been. I hope that I have impacted their lives as much as they have mine. I am so lucky to have been able to have the experiences I have had along with spending the past year and especially the past two weeks with such amazing leaders and my 24 best friends.

Emily Lloyd

Leaving With Love

After the first day at my school when I went back to our sleeping quarters and thought about how the last day at my school was going to go. I wondered if when we left the kids would fully understand that we weren't coming back the next day. On Monday I had that question answered. When it was time to leave we had our translator tell the kids that we weren't going to be coming back. At first there wasn't a reaction. The kids didn't seem to fully understand that we weren't coming back. When school was over the kids started to walk out of the classroom. We hugged each of them good bye. The last two kids to walk out were crying. I couldn't hold it in any longer and started to cry with them. One of these two kids was Raju. He was the one the smartest kids at the school and I knew that he fully understood that we weren't coming back. I hugged him and the other one and I stood there holding them tightly for five or so minutes. We then went up to the ashram to play with the kids up there for a couple of hours. We had to leave the ashram and then that would be the last day that we were going to see the kids from the village of Kalsui. When we started to leave nearly everyone in the ashram was crying. This proved to me that we really had impacted their lives. They really loved us and we loved them as well. In my other blog I talked about Abu. This little kid who I would do anything for. When we left he didn't cry like all the other kids were crying. At first I was really bothered by this. I felt like he didn't really care about me as much as I did about him. I then thought about it and realized that he didn't have to cry to show that he loved. He had already shown that when he let me hold him, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and said that he loved me. I really was taught a lot in India. I am so glad that I was able to go. Greg, Megan, Derrick, Tanner, Abby, Jenny, Susan, Erika, and Raj you were all great leaders and I thank you for the countless hours that you put into this expidetion.

Caleb Johnson

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Flight Update

The flight from Chicago is currently back on schedule and will arrive at 8:44pm. See you there. It could still change. Also, keep in mind that even after they land, all of the teens have to go to the bathroom and look all cute and handsome. To get 34 people to do that takes awhile. It is usually about 30 minutes after they land before we see their smiles.

“Just a Little Honk and Your Golden”

Another favorite quote from my group that describes the technique used by local drivers for maneuvering blind hairpin turns on narrow mountain roads…

We spent our last night in Chamba and are headed for the station to catch a night train to Delhi. So many images, smells, tastes to try to commit to memory. Above all of the foreign, exotic and new sights, there are two memories that I want to keep crystal clear: One is of the children at Kalsui. Seeing their happy faces with big brown eyes full of love. Feeling little hands braid hair and tuck themselves into mine. Hearing my name “Zenny!!” shouted in excited voices, Malka, Buhmica, Sangira, Shalu…These kids are so open and joyful. The simple things bring a genuine smile to their faces. I want to remember to be more like this when I am home.

The other memory is of last Sunday afternoon with my group. While all of the other YMAD groups painted a mural at the NHPC, ours had some unfinished business to tend to. The interior walls of the one room school where we had been working with the Kalsui students during the week were in serious need of paint. The blue walls were flaking and faded. They absorbed the light from two bare bulbs creating a dark and dingy atmosphere. Matt T came up with the idea to paint the walls a cheerful yellow to brighten it up and make it look cared for. Greg was skeptical and wondered if it could be finished in time. Greg asked us to create a plan that would show him how such a large undertaking could be completed within this limited timeframe. Matt’s passion and enthusiasm were contagious. Our entire group became committed to this. They convinced Greg that it could be done if we all worked during our day off. With Erika’s help, Matt, Caleb, Andrea, Zippy, Chloe, Zach and I were able to finish the walls with two coats of fresh paint, sweep the floor, and organize the shelves. It looked great!

The next day, we were greeted by happy kids and appreciative teachers who were enjoying their clean bright cheerful classroom. The finishing touch was applied when we hung educational posters that Matt had bought in Chamba Town. What a great team! I’m glad that I had the opportunity to work with such a positive group of kids! They did a great job and were always a pleasure to be with.

Caleb with his easy, casual personality offered help often without ever being asked; Zach with his easy smile and eagerness to jump in and do the heavy lifting as well as offering comic relief; Andrea with her desire to work hard and tirelessly without complaints; Chloe who gives 100% effort to any undertaking; Zippy who offers ideas and solutions and happily supports others when they choose to go in another direction; Matt who remembered EVERY DAY to load the bags on the car, unload them, and carry anything weighing over 100 lbs for anyone without ever being asked… I’m happy to report that these kids respected one another and got along wonderfully despite being together for hours each day! I love the kids on my team! Big shout out to Megan and Greg for being the unbelievable dynamic duo who tirelessly made this expedition an extraordinary life memory for so many people!

Himalayan Heights

On Tuesday morning our group bid farewell to the NHPC to start on a trekking adventure in the beautiful Himalayan Mountains. Mr. Dami’s son, Nitin, an experienced and ever so patient guide led us on a five hour, uphill climb. I consider myself to be relatively fit individual, but I quickly learned that the Gold’s Gym stair stepper did not come close in comparison to the trails we forged that day. It was incredible to walk through wooded trails and come across Sheppard homes along the way. According to Nitin, there are often several families who live in the Sheppard homes, which also house cows, sheep, and other animals. These families are self-sustaining for the most part, as Chamba town is a good two or three hour trek down the mountain.

When we arrived at our destination the view was absolutely breathtaking. Nitin and his crew had set up two and three man tents overlooking range after range of Himalayan mountains. We spent the night eating a warm dinner of PASTA with tomato sauce among the usual Indian feast, it was quite a treat. After dinner we drank hot chocolate and sat talking around a bonfire. Though I absolutely loved being able to spend time with the amazing kids in the schools and ashrams, the night we spent in the Himalayans was one I will never forget.

Abbie Jensen

Love, a prize worth working for

I have seen and experienced many things this trip that has left an imprint on me that I believe will influence me for the rest of my life. The lessons I have learned are many, however I will only speak of one with in this blog. The lesson that seems to stand out to me the most at this time is that of progression and love. These two seemingly unrelated topics became stringed together and almost one idea through the experiences I gained in India.

When my group first went to the school we were assigned, a little girl with a pink sweater and the most beautiful eyes caught my own eyes. When I went to say hello, with the intent to also find out her name, she stayed stoic and unmoved as if she were a marble statue. When I was met with this lack of participation and interest , I soon lost my own and went on to meet other kids. On the second day I again tried to crack that shell that was Pishu. That day I was able to find out her name, through her sister, and extract a few "high fives" and the occasional "bones" but once again, she seemed completely uninterested with me and, what I had recently thought was irresistible, my charm. The next day come and I had grown closer to the boys of the school. It seems a that tickle fight can break down any amount of shyness within children. After realizing this, I went to try this philosophy on the impenitrable Pishu. By the end of that day, I had her fallowing me around trying to sneak up on me in order to tickle me. That was the first time I had gotten her to smile and actually make eye contact. On the fourth day Pishu came to me during one of the lessons and sat on my lap. When this happened it warmed my heart and I was so happy I didn't know what to do with myself. I just sat there with a huge smile on my face. When the fifth and final day came, Pishu hung by my side for most of the day, which was a battle due to the boys and there new found love of piggy back rides. As we were packing up and saying our goodbyes all of the kids began mauling us with hugs. As the boys were saying there goodbyes to me and squeezing me to death, little Pishu sat back waiting for a turn to give me a huge. Seeing this just about broke my heart and made saying goodbye 10 times harder. Within the five short days that we visited our schools, I fell in love with Pishu.

Through this experience with Pishu I learned the lesson of progression and love. Through the progress made by a constant will, we attain love. Last night I was asked whether or not I felt like a different person after YMAD. As I pondered about the answer I would give, I realized that I probably didn't change personality wise, however, my perspective on life and love had. With time and a constant will, we can learn to love anyone and everyone and I plan on bringing this thought process home with me as a sort of a keep-sake.

S. Cooper Harris

You've Got a Friend in Me

As I sit here in the air, on the long nine hour flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, I would say that my initial response to finding out my iPod died before the flight was irritation. You may be asking yourself why on earth I'm opening my blog this way, but hang with me. Because as I sit here with nothing to do on this long, quiet journey but think to myself, I realize that that is exactly what I need to do. I need to stop, take a few minutes, or in this case hours, and reflect on the experiences I've had over the last seventeen days. And that's exactly what I've done. Because in India, beautiful, amazing, eye-opening India, for seventeen days we were pulled into such a torrent of new sights, smells, sounds, and feelings that I've only just let it all soak in, so here is a composition of my thoughts and feelings of the last memorable two and a half weeks that has been Operation Jyoti.

Two and half weeks ago, 32 leaders and teens alike boarded a plane and set off for India with the hopes and expectations of playing a small part in making the world a better place. And now, that much time later, as I sit here and reflect, I am confident that we have done more than that, in more ways than at least any of us teenagers expected. In all honesty, it was far different from what I expected it would be, and for that reason it was even more memorable. The country itself is indescribable. Like so many expedition alumni before have said, I now truly know the meaning of the oft used expression, "if you haven't been to haven't been to India." Cliche as it may sound, it's true, because after the long year spent preparing for this expedition, I know that nothing could near prepare me enough for what was to, and has now, come. Nothing prepared me to see the man at a temple in Delhi, dragging himself through the crowd, both feet broken at 90 degree angles inward as he tried in vain to move himself through the relentless tide of people. Nothing prepared me to smell the odor of filth and garbage, mixed with human excrement literally bathing the impoverished areas of the country. And nothing prepared me to hear the rasping sound of the little boy's voice, scarred and burned, as he tugged on my shirt sleeve for 15 minutes in a flea market in a desperate plea for a spare scrap of food or money that I could not even give to him, because he would never actually get it. And yet, with the bad comes the good, with the ugly, the beautiful. Because nothing could have also prepared me for the joy, hope, and unconditional love shown by the orphaned and impoverished children we spent a week working and growing with. Seeing their faces light up every day my team and I made the winding hike down to their school at the prospect of another day spent with friends, hearing the excited calls to us as we drew nearer, and feeling the warm touch of their hands and hearts as we were day after day, bombarded, both literally and emotionally, with such love and gratitude towards foreigners they had only just met, melted my heart, and opened my eyes. It opened my eyes to a world where so much is wrong, and unfair, and hopeless, and yet love, joy, and hope can be found in the simplest of places, such as the waiting arms or open heart of a friend. Because as I found myself futilely grasping at the fact that these children have so little, almost literally only the clothing on their small frames, I realized that that isn't really true at all. In fact, they have so much, more than I've ever had, because they have hope, and they have love, and no amount of money can buy that. Over the last two and half weeks I know I've taught these children valuable knowledge, but more so tenfold I know they've taught me. Because through the example of the 55 small children I spent the last little portion of my life working with, not only have I learned, I've grown, and I will carry their influence with me for the rest of my life. And for how much they have given me, I know I have given them something as well, aside from the love and hope they already carry. Regardless of time or distance apart, in me they have a friend, and always, always will.

Jacob Ely

You'll Be in My Heart

Saying goodbye to my kids at Kalsuin was in the top 3 hardest things I've ever done. How do you tell kids, you have come to love so much, that your leaving and not coming back tomorrow?

We started out our last day with teaching the English section of the lessons and handing out school supplies, hats, gloves, blankets, and new school sweaters. It was like Christmas morning for them. I didn't think children could be so happy to receive items I take for granted everyday.

After passing out all the gifts, we played one last game with the parachute, then it was time to say goodbye. Luckily Raj was there and we asked him to tell the kids that we love them so much and that they'll always be in our hearts. After saying this, I looked into the eyes of one little girl who had tears streaming down her face. I promised myself I wasn't going to cry, but found that impossible. After school we walked up to the ashram one last time. We had just a little time to say our final goodbyes. I held my little girls in my arms for the last time and told them I loved them.

I will never forget my kids. They'll be in my heart, always. I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had in India. I'm so grateful for the things I've learned from the kids, my leaders, and my fellow youth.

Chole Workman


I know I was supposed to go on this trip. So many things have happened that it would be impossible to say that destiny doesn't exist. I am amazed at a series of "coincidences" that have happened to me in India.

After I got accepted to YMAD and the Chamba expedition I had a conflict with some of the meetings. I was given the option to switch to the southern group so that the conflicts would work out. For whatever reason I could not bring myself to go to the south group. I just really felt like I needed to go with the north. I can't even say there was a specific reason of why I felt I should go north, I just knew I should. I sacrificed a big thing but I decided I was going to stay in the north.

YMAD has not been to Chamba in 3 years. Chamba is where both of my parents and my brother went. I didn't really think about how by chance I went to the same destination until I got there. My dad fell in love with a little girl named Bindu and wanted to adopt her. I remember when he got back he showed me pictures of her and told me she was the spitting image of me. For a long time I fanticised about having an Indian sister named Bindu. By the time I left to India I didn't really think about her or where I should go looking for her. But I didn't have to go looking for her. The first day we went to Temple orphanage I recognized her. I thought maybe it was her but it was so hard to tell. She was a lot older. I pushed it off to the side and thought it couldnt be. In the next few days I decided to ask her because it was bugging me so badly. She said she remembered Craig and Jenny. Another girl said that she remembered a man coming and wanting to take her back to the U.S. Once she said that I knew it was her. I was so excited I couldn't contain myself. After that we bonded immediately. She told me I was her best friend and I told her the same. I really meant it. She is my sister even though we didn't get the chance to adopt her. I am so grateful for the little time I got to spend with her.

This is the biggest example of my fate but there are so many other things. Having my dads journal entries there with me to guide me and help me has been amazing. I treasured my mom's advice and cried when I listened to My brother's experience through music. My leaders and all of my group members have changed me forever. They all have been such great examples to me. My smaller group at my school was the group I was meant to be in. Each person taught me so much. I was meant to go to Sahoo. The kids there taught me how to love. The thing is they love you from the moment you walk down that hill and they see you. They are examples to me. Each and everyone of them. I can't imagine what life is going to be like with out them in it anymore, but that small time I had with the them was the best time of my life.

I am extremely grateful for this journey. It's the best thing I have ever done. To my family and friends: thank you for all the love and support! I love you all so much and I miss you. I'm excited to see all of your beautiful faces.

Denali Hale


It has been a couple days since we said goodbye to the children in the schools, but I can't stop thinking about it. My group had finished our lessons early so we would be able to play with our kids longer after lunch. The time flew by and as soon as Naveen ,our translator, told us school was over my heart dropped. I tried so hard to hold back tears but staring at their little faces crammed together in that single classroom was too much. We told them all that we loved them and that we would miss them so much. We walked out of the class and waited for the kids to walk out. I started hugging the ones that didn't live in the ashram because I wasn't sure if I would see them again. When I gave the teachers hugs they were crying. That was the moment I knew we had really made a difference in this school. However small it might have been it didn't matter because I know I made an impact. From the school we began the 3 minute walk up to the ashram. I was still crying, but I knew this was the very last time with the kids so I needed to make the most of it. We played and ran around just like normal, but I couldn't help but think that this was all over soon. Shortly after our group arrived at the ashram, most of the school kids that didn't live in the ashram came to play. We took final pictures, played our final games and it was so much fun. Again time blurred by too fast and we had to say goodbye. I didn't know where to begin, I wanted to let these kids know how much I cared and I would never forget them. I gave the women who run the ashram hugs and they all said "thank you we will miss you." Looking around and seeing giant, continuous tears streaming down all the kids faces broke my heart. They didn't want us to go and I would have done anything to stay longer. This little girl Anjali came up and hugged me and told me to smile. It was such a simple thing to say but I realized I need to put on a brave face for the kids. The last person I hugged was little Rafi. He was so shy but as soon as I put my arms around him he said in the quietest voice "I love you zippy." Thinking about it now makes me so sad. I wish with all my heart I could have spent more time with them. The kids I had the opportunity of getting to know we're amazing. There is no way I will ever forget them. They have really changed my life.

Zippy Ford

PS I can't wait to see my family and Max!! Moo can we get American food the second I land haha? I've never been more hungry!!


This journey has gone by so fast, days have blurred together. I am so grateful and blessed, incredibly so by getting to see and know these amazing Kids. I have grown so much and been changed by my Kids. I miss them tremendously, I must always remember this life changing experience and the great examples of these wonderful Children. They are the best examples of having so much happiness, humiliy, and so much pure love. It was extremely hard leaving them on Monday.. Here is a very special part of my journal for the end of that day ; "How can I possibly describe today? I tell you now I cannot fully. Our purpose of helping These kids and teaching them has come to a close, tears have filled my eyes, the Kids, look at me with confusion yet not, a puzzled look of is this real. It's hard, so hard to think that was it. I gave it my all, had much fun, and at the closing Danu told the Children this was our last time here. It made my heart choke and like drop, the precious girls, these little special girls got tears coming in their eyes.. I love all of them.. These Kids are one of a kind. My heart hurts and misses them. I miss them so bad, I want to come back here more than anything.. There's this indescribable feeling of love and this connection of such great worth and is so incredibly special... These incredible Children have changed me.."

I am a living testament that we can make a Difference, even in just a week, Ymad makes a difference, and I am forever grateful to be a part of this and to have these amazing connections and priceless experiences. I love you all and thank my Heavenly Father for all I have, for my loving Family, and for all the time I had to spend with these, truly amazing Kids.

Jordan Biesinger

Life Changing

Since the beginning of this YMAD journey, we have worked hard to change the lives of children in India. We heard how much our efforts would affect them and how we would be such an impact in their lives. Even in the few weeks we spent with them, we would alter their life forever. I couldn't fully understand all of this until I experienced it. I saw the children improve day by day, whether it was mentally or socially. Just a high five or a sticker for answering a question correctly completely boosted their confidence and increased their desire even more to learn. They were given hope of succeeding in life. I gave it my all and couldn't have been happier with the outcome.

All of this change with the children wasn't even the biggest transformation I've seen on this trip. The biggest change I saw, was in myself. From day one with my kids, I have been humbled. I saw how little they had and saw how happy they were. What they do have is the key to life. They know true happiness. They don't need iPods, movies, and closets full of clothes to be happy. All they need are the simple things in life. Seeing this made me more aware of myself and material things. It has made me so grateful for everything I have. I have been so blessed in my life to be born in the USA into the circumstances I am in. I would be selfish not to give back everything I can. From now on, I will look at life through another lens and do my best to live life to the fullest. The children left a lasting impact on me that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Thomas Dale

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Flight Info December 3rd

Lufthansa Flight 761 from Delhi to Frankfort 03:05AM to 07:05AM

Lufthansa Flight 430W from Frankfort to Chicago 10:35AM to 12:45PM

***United Airlines Flight 6533W Chicago to SLC 6:15PM to 8:44 PM ***

We will keep you updated if there is any change in the schedule. You never know.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Panoramic View

The entire team hiked to a trekking hut high up in the Himalayas. It was a tough hike, but everyone made it! The view was spectacular above the smog and smoke of the villages. There were tents set up for them in advance. Today they hiked down to our friend Mr. Dahmi's Place. It is called the Orchard Hut. He and his family help run YMAD in Chamba. He works with our Orphanages, his children are our interpreters, they are an amazing family and they own the Orchard Hut. It is a great place to relax after working as hard as the team does. I added a link for you to be able to see where they are. The chances are good that there will not be anymore posts from the team because there is not access the internet. We will try to post updates for you. The leaders are so inspired at how amazing your teens are. Thanks for your efforts in raising teens who want to make a difference.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Yesterday we were given the opportunity to go and visit everyone’s schools. Of course mine was the biggest hit because we know how to party. First we sang and danced for all the kids and then they took us into the their 10 x 10 classroom and starting busting out their Indian dance moves and music. I was so impressed by their intricate hand motions and the way they could move their hips. After they presented their dance they invited everyone else up and taught us some moves. I caught on a very fast and every time I hear a song I start practicing. So lets just say I can wait to get back to the USA and show EVERYONE how I can shake my “money maker” – Indian Style.

Aside from the fun we’ve been having there is also some serious business. At one of the schools, Nihan, I didn’t know any of the kids but immediately connected with a little 2 year old that would cry if I set her down. It made me feel so special and just looking in her eyes brought an instant smile. During this trip I have discovered that you can learn so much just though eye contact. While doing the medical exams at my school ERA, I was in charge of taking the kids blood pressure and pulse. In order to make the kids focus I had them wear the blood pressure cuff and then look me in the eye so I could take their pulse. By having them look at me it wether brought on a staring contest or just loud laughs because of the silly face contest we would have. It brought me so much happiness hearing their sweet giggles and knowing that the simplest of the things can bring eternal happiness. These kids know what happiness is and although we are teaching them English basics, they are teaching us so much more. They’ve taught me that a smile can be passed on, a laugh can be contagious, a compliment can brighten a day. When I get home I’m going to make sure I pass on what I’ve learned and make sure everyone know its not the money that can buy happiness it’s the people you surround your self with.

I want my mom and dad to know I love them very much and I am grateful that they have given me an incredible life to live. I want Annie to know I miss her so much and love the fact that she is always there for me, even if she is a continent away. I want Sammy to know that although we fight I’ve realized I miss his crude humor and bright smile and I love him. Lily, I look at these older girls I’m working with and immediately thing of you and how you would love it here just and much as I do. Last but not least, Granty, I love you so much and the little Boys here are just like you. I hold them and just imagine I am holding you. You have so much light and spread it to the family; I don’t know what we would do with out you. I want to thank all the other family and friends I have in my life and I want them to know that I feel so lucky that I have so much support from them. You all give me things to hold on to and things to reflect. You are all incredible and I can’t wait to see everyone’s beautiful faces!

Much Love!



The Ecstatic ERA Children

Working at ERA this week has been spectacular. I absolutely love the kids at my school. Every kid is completely unique and wonderful. There are some that are extremely outgoing, while others are reserved and quiet but outrageously smart. Most of the time I feel like they are teaching me more than I could ever teach them just through their attitudes and smiles. A lot of them speak English really well and I have been able to connect with them in ways I never thought I could before I came to India.

One kid that I have really been able to connect with is Artix. He is one of the smaller kids at the school and he is picked on a little bit by the older, bigger kids. It was a little hard for me to get him to open up in the workshops, but after working with him I have discovered that he is extremely smart and curious. Now, he answers all my questions and is very confident about it. I have noticed that he is kind and giving to all of his classmates. He will give up his spot in the circle to make room for others. His little smile lights up everything around him and the other kids just feed off of his positive attitude.

I fel that in many ways kids in India are the same as kids you would see anywhere else. I thought that the kids would be organized and focused on their studies, and they are most of the time. But they do like to have fun.They love paling games and sports just like American kids. In fact, a lot of my day is spent playing basketbal and "Ride that Pony" with kids at the school. I 've been told that the kids in India are amazing and loving and I'm happy that I have been able to experience that and learn to love them.

Matt Hogan


I am lucky enough to be one of the people that has had this amazing experience 2 times. I am just soaking up every moment here. This time we IDarner, Shuki, Jordan, Anika, Hannah, Sarah and I) were able to open a school that YMAD hasn't ever been to before called Nihan. There are so many things that I absolutely love about Nihan but I want to share my top 5.

1. The drive up into the middle of the Himalayan mountains is impossible to describe unless you have been there. They are so immense and grand that words can't describe them.

2. Lunch on the edge. By edge I mean we all sit out on the edge of the road and have a 360 panoramic view of the mountains.

3. The drive home listening to the YMAD kids talk about all of the children at the school and how much they love them.

4. Priyanka. This little girl that I want to put in my suitcase and bring her home. And yes, my wife has already approved of this:)

5. Teaching English to the kids. They all want to learn so badly and they try so hard. I have already been able to see a lot of progress in the short period of time that we have been here.

One last thing that I want to mention that really made me realize how much we are able to influence the lives of these people is an experience that I had yesterday. We were able to go and visit all of the schools that we are teaching in this year. In 2008 I was assigned the Sahoo School. When we went to visit the teacher saw me and yelled my name and he was so excited to see me. Just a good reminder to always be positive and try and give it your all.

We can make a difference.


One Day

One day (soon,soon,soon) I will be back in India. Before I ever heard about YMAD, I remember making a list of places in the world I wanted to travel. On this list was basically every country even Antarctica, but I specifically remember saying I never wanted to go to India. The idea made me cringe!. Then a few months later I found out about YMAD, and I was sold with everything about this group of amazing leaders :) well, everything but the fact that we were going to India. I went ahead and applied anyway, when I was accepted I was really excited! As the year progressed and I got more involved with the leaders, our group and our mission, India didn't make me cringe anymore, but I never felt excited about going. My excitement was more about why we were coming. I'm not going to lie even on the plane ride coming over, India didn't appeal to me. . . Then we landed. I've never fallen in love with a country, it's culture, or it's people this fast in my life! The way these kids (YMAD and the kids in our schools) have touched my life and changed it forever is (here is comes the word we've been forbidden to use) indescribable!!! One day (in the very near future) I WILL come back to India!
Mom, Dad, Marco, Nan: I know you will all understand when I say I am absolutely NOT home sick! Your the best family anyone could ask for! I can't wait to try and attempt to tell you guys all about this.


Early Christmas

It is weird saying goodbye to someone who you may never see again. Today was our last day at the school and orphanage and saying goodbye to those kids has been the most difficult thing for me so far this trip. It started off like every other day at the school with the prayers, exercises and then lessons. The lessons were fun to teach but my favorite part of the school day was giving away all of the gifts.

We brought large duffle bags full of gifts for the children and teachers. We gave out blankets, hats, gloves, bags, school supplies, and new uniform sweaters for all of the students. The look of their faces when they received these gifts made all the hard work to get to India worth it. Nothing could make me happier than the smiles and thank you's from each of the kids. It was like an early Christmas for me. I'm excited for them to put these gifts to use during the upcoming cold weather and during the school year.

Saying goodbye to the kids was heart wrenching. I can usually say "I will see you later" but this time was different. I may not ever see these kids again and knowing this made saying goodbye so much harder. Seeing the tears in their eyes while saying "I love you" was difficult to say goodbye to. I will miss these kids more than they'll ever know and I hope someday I will get the opportunity to come back and visit them again.

My time in India has been fulfilled and I believe I really have made a difference. This has been such a humbling experience and I will never forget the friendships I have made here. I am really going to miss India.

Mom thank you for answering your phone! I loved talking to you. I miss you soooooooo much. Tell everyone at home hello and that I miss all of them too. I love you so much and I will see you Saturday!