After more than 19 hours in the air and a seven-hour layover in London where we met up, the 2018-2019 Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellows arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India.
After taking long-awaited showers, brushing our teeth and getting acclimated to being in a much different time zone (twelve-and-a-half hours ahead of my own), we gathered for an enormous, delicious Indian buffet meal with my favorite – naan!
What we didn’t expect was a beautiful welcoming ceremony from our amazing hosts, Rajesh, Pooman, Mamta and Sonia!
They welcomed us by using red turmeric paste to dot our foreheads and then gently tossing small flower petals onto our heads as a blessing. They gave us gifts of brightly colored bags and promised to guide us well as we make this incredible educational journey in India. We learned that pressing the palms together when you meet someone and saying, “Namaste,” not only shows respect, but is also joining your hands at very specific pressure points: those for the eyes, ears and mind. When pressed together, those point activate parts of our brain that help us remember the person we are greeting for a long time.
And “Namaste” is from the Sanskrit meaning “I bow to you.” Namaste recognizes the importance and value of each soul, and it strikes me as a wonderful start to this journey.
We need to value each and every person we meet – whether inside our classrooms or beyond our borders. We need to show appreciation and gratitude for each and every experience – for those who have worked hard to make this possible. We need to recognize that, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.” By showing consideration and respect to others, we help make our world a much better place for everyone.
Namaste! Let the adventures begin!