By Varun Ram

To say that I am looking forward to this trip in July would be an understatement. It’s been over 4 years since my last visit to India and I am eager to return. This visit will be unique, however, because it will be the first one without my family. My parents made it a point to take my sister and I back to India every few years throughout our childhood to immerse us in our native culture. We would typically spend 2 to 3 weeks in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state, predominantly spending time visiting friends and extended family.

I imagine that I will return from this upcoming trip with a completely different experience under my belt. One major difference between this trip and my previous trips will be dealing with the language barrier. Previously, I had the luxury of having my parents intervene in any conversation with a native speaker in which I struggled to get a point across with my broken Tamil, the native language of Tamil Nadu. Although there will be a translator on the trip, I feel like communication may still be an issue if I don’t brush up on my Tamil prior to the trip.

The second major difference between this trip and any other is the opportunity to use basketball, the game I love, as a vehicle for teaching children the importance of discipline, teamwork, and perseverance among other life lessons. Having been around basketball virtually my entire life, I am aware of the enormous positive impact it has made on my upbringing. It has undoubtedly shaped the person I am today. I am anxious to share the lessons I have learned with children who will benefit both physically and mentally from my experiences and learning the game of basketball. More than that, however, I am excited for the opportunity to learn from the children, my fellow staff members, and other people I meet throughout the course of this trip.

The countdown has started— 23 days!

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