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Week 4 and my recharge

This past week was seriously a blur. Of course I know you are all expecting me to be sick once again…and you were right. I was. I got a crazy allergic reaction to something I don’t even know. Seriously the weirdest thing ever. Last week was not really exciting. It felt like I was going through some routine that I didn’t even know I had. 
Luckily I have a roommate that keeps me going. I mean I can survive on my own, which I was, but finally someone to debate with. Someone to challenge me, my views, and values. One thing India has brought to me is a lot of self-discovery. Being around other interns and their lives is an incredible feeling. It makes you feel more connected to them. I’ve gotten to know some of these girls pretty well. One shared some personal stories that made me reflect on my own life. Getting to know people is a remarkable feeling. 

 I also ran across a girl from New Zealand who is interning for a hospital. We already even planned a mini trip to the coast. I’m finding it thrilling that I’m meeting people I would have never done so if I was back home. I wouldn’t be discovering new things about myself and breaking limits I didn’t know I had. 

I need to share with you a new place I was able to visit this past weekend. It was a random trip to Dubai! I know super crazy. A friend invited me to figure some stuff out and to get help for my allergic reaction. I’m telling you I looked puffy and red in the face and some random rashes on my legs. Well anyways I somehow found myself on a 9am flight Friday.  Dubai is extravagant and luxurious. It’s super clean and shiny. Massive hotels and resorts. Every car I saw seemed too expensive to even look at. It was a bit uncomfortable. How can people in this world be starving to death and homeless when there are so many wealthy people in this world that could change it in a blink of an eye. 

Even with that discomfort I was able to find joy of the place. There is no “true” Dubai traditions or cultures that I was able to see. Dubai is still a young country, with new things being added everyday. It’s growing and now more people are vacationing there. There isn’t only food and shopping. There are now water parks, spas, theme parks, camel riding and surfing in the desert. 

I just did the classic thing of eating, sight seeing, swimming, and an amazing spa treatment. 

Finally, I was away from the noise and chaos. It was just me. My time was mine to think about me for a day and to really ask myself what I was even doing in India. I feel like so much has occurred to me in the one month I’ve been in India that in the past year. I was able to sit and just go back and think what was my original purpose of this internship, how did I lose my vision, and i needed to get myself reorganized. Plus the weather and the pampering cleared my allergic reaction in a day. 

I was able to lay in bed and just ponder the existence of life and think about my own journey. What this weekend was, was a privilege that most people will never have. That’s why it was at first uncomfortable for me, knowing that I was there relaxing, so many are out there searching for food. These thoughts never leave me. They always find there way in my head. 

Even though I’m constantly thinking of this I do take time to be grateful and enjoy the moment. From my room I had the perfect view of the sunset. It made me get emotional.

See I told you that the sunset was spectacular. 

The weekend was a luxury that allowed me to rethink everything in my life. I might not needed to go to Dubai for this recharge but I’m grateful I did. Now my project proposal has been written and approved and I start today. I have a month to make this internship count.  To prove to myself that I am capable of anything. I refuse to get sick again or to have anything pull me back, even myself. We never give ourselves enough credit of our capabilities. I’m now all in, no reservations or judgments. 

Week 4 was more about reflection and sharing pictures and even some videos. Next week you will hear about my project! Below a little more pictures, not of Dubai, but of Kolkata. 

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Week 3 and so many new friends

Hello everyone, things are slowly improving here in Kolkata for me. The process of getting comfortable in a new country, that speak a language you seriously don’t know,  and a culture that is much different then anything I’ve ever experienced has started to all grow on me. I’m still not okay with everyone staring at me. I mean people in particular the men, just stare bluntly at you and sometimes they are not staring at your face..

I’m starting to see a pattern. It’s so normal to repress people of sexual sentiments here and maybe all of India. Which this has and is causing people to behave here a bit more “crazy”. Like talk to you as they stare at your breast or try to slide their hand over your behind in a metro by “accident”. I’m not trying to criticize, but just state an observation from my personal experience here. I’m just noticing that bollywood dancing is super sexual,  but men and women are not allowed in some places to talk to each other. Or women are looked down at wearing shorts even though the mall sells many shorts. Women here seem to be paranoid of attracting sexual attention of any kind because it might be taken as advances towards men. India has many wonderful traits and yes the people here are super kind and nice,  but my observation I stated above is an issue I have found. My friend from Kolkata has told me things are slowly improving. He did tell me young people are starting to understand the concept of dating. He further discussed with me that as a society the concept of consent really needs to be discussed and practiced. India isn’t the only country facing crucial problems with concent or rape culture in general. It’s sad to be reminded that 1 in 3 women are raped. So far, I’ve met plenty of women and young girls that have. There is obviously more to this, not just sexual repression but the idea of manhood and womanhood. Again this is something the world is facing. 

Ok enough of this sad but so true talk, let’s now start getting into my week three! My project for my internship is starting to be fully developed, which is super exciting. Today (Sunday my time), I’ll be getting my first of my project on paper with another intern. We will be combining our project for the young teens. We will mix body image and health together by doing activities with the young girls. 

So us interns were able to visit the final homes and one of the main projects New Light has. I’ll start with the project. So this is is one of the women empowerment projects. 

Mukti Project

To empower women sometimes can be hard but New Light has found creative avenues for women in Kolkata to have alternative means of having an income. These are women who have decided to leave the sex trafficking industry or are trying to protect themselves from being persuaded to join. The women here don’t make anywhere near what they could in the sex industry, which just makes this even more powerful. I want to seriously get to know this group of women. I want to know their stories and their ambitions. 

Now you are probably wondering what in the world do these women do. These women make biodegradable sanitary napkins (pads). It’s a fascinating process to watch. The project is fairly new, maybe a year old if that. The new women work/train for 2 hours a day while the women with more experience work 4 hour shifts. Every 2 hours the women can make from 80 to 100 sanitary napkins (pads). The women training were on the floor tearing what felt and looked like poster board materiel into small pieces. These pieces would eventually be used to make the pads. The pictures below just give a small glimpse of the process. 

Now you have an overview of what these women do on a daily basis. It’s incredible that there are organizations such as New Light that are trying to find alternative methods of helping women become financially independent. They don’t just rescue the girls and give them money and bam let them free, but they treat each girl and women like a seed. They nourish each seed with the right amount of water and sunlight so when they are ready to become beautiful flowers, New Light let’s them go. Of course not just a “bye I’ll never see you again” but a “see you later” kind of way. 

Two other homes and more new faces

To finish out the week us interns were taken to the final two homes that New Light has. One was a hostel like home that was offered for young adults who were now out of the child system but still needing guidance. This home has girls from the ages 18 to 23. They are all in college with a goal in mind.  Each girl accomplishing their goals and aiming for high ambitions. One girl spoke and out her dream,  of being a fashion designer/stylist. As she shared her dream she kept smiling. This is what organizations need to be aiming for. To help the vulnerable achieve a dream that seemed so far away. An intern and now friend told me that it’s not the institution that makes the change, but the people who have the power to make the change. She further told me that people see the potential in others that allow both people to grow and progress. At first I argues with her on this. I thought there needs to be institutions for change to occur, but she is right an institution or an organization is nothing for not the people in them.  

The other homes where for girls finishing up what I would consider middle school and high school. In this home we really weren’t there long enough to actually speak with the girls. We were there for maybe 15 minutes. I can understand that these girls need to be more protected then the rest.so I wasn’t really expecting much at this shelter. 

This week hasn’t only been about intense situations that normal people don’t see in a daily basis, but about personal growth and getting to know others. And just as an inside scope on my health I did get sick again, which was quick and not so painful haha. Anyways, this past week I told myself, even though I’m low on money and my account is frozen I need figure out ways of being more independent and not relying on everyone for help. I started to ride the busses, regardless if there is AC or not. I know I need to put on my big girl pants and try. So I’ve learned the bus system from my apartment to the main shelter. It’s great! I get to see Kolkata in a different way. The ticket men are helpful and the bus is so cheap! Less than a dollar. I’ve taken pictures of the traffic from the bus, riding the bus is a completely different experience. Also the buses don’t stop for anyone but a red light, so watch out and they will squeeze into any small space to move around the cars or tuk tuks. 

Friday night, I went out with two interns (jessica and Zoë) who I’ve come to respect and enjoy their company and I went out with my friend from Kolkata, Nil. (The one who helped out last weekend at the police station…check last week’s post to understand) He took us to a bar/restaurant. We were there for several hours discussing politics to movies and even discussing books. The conversation never got dull. To be honest the best part of this was the hot brownie and ice cream I ate. Wow it was amazing. I’m not really a drinker nor was one of the interns so we devoured our ice creams. 

Probably the best thing about this week was the new intern that now lives with me. She (Sol) isn’t in the photo. It’s only been two days but I feel like she has already helped broaden my thinking. Sol’s from Australia so of course she has an awesome accent. But the coolest part is she has a little of so many ethnicities and cultures in her. She has challenged my thinking and giving me many issues to think about. No wonder she is about to be a human rights lawyer. She was the intern/now friend who gave me the wise words I shared about change and institutions earlier in my blog. It’s amazing the people God continues to put in my life. I’m a already feeling emotional and physical shifts/change about myself and the way I see the world. (Dr. Miller would really like this intern, seriously they think so much alike)
Oh and one last thing. I am taking Zumba classes that have been kicking my butt. 

Well I think this week there was a lot to say. I hope you enjoyed reading, till next time. 

Week One completed and still going strong

The few days leading to the day I departed from Nashville were full of butterflies. I began to be a nervous wreck. Who allowed me to do this trip? I kept going back to this thought. Then on the day I left and had my 9 hour layover in Newark International Airport, I became fast friends with a young girl and her sister. My 9 hour went by so quickly, I didn’t have time to contemplate the reasoning of my trip.

That’s Magadhi and her little brother.

So that photo was taken in New Delhi near the baggage lane. I was seriously sleep deprived and lacked a good shower haha. I really connected with this family. Maybe because I missed my own, but it also had a lot to do with little Magadhi. Even though we don’t look it now, but when I was her age we resembled in looks and personality. 

At the New Delhi airport I met more women my age. I even got the number of a girl who lives in Kuala  Lumpur. I have a layover there for like 14 hours, when my India trip ends. She kindly offered to show me around for that time. As the night went on I met this really cool girl who is from Kolkata! She was going to school in Illinois  (2 hours from Principia). We bonded quickly, took down our info and will be meet up soon!

The flight to Kolkata felt super long even though it wasn’t compared to the other two flights. Once I landed, got my bags, and found my driver things moved rather quickly.  Maybe too quick for me. Kolkata is amazing, chaotic, colorful, loud, busy…the list can go on and on. 

I thought my time riding a taxi in Yopal, Colombia or NYC would kill me, I was wrong. Kolkata has nothing on those other cities. Drivers here are crazy. Everyone cutting everyone.  I was tired one day from all my walking that I was slowly falling asleep, until my driver jerked the car and did some fast and furious shizzz. I couldn’t tell if I should have thought that was sick or if  I should hold on for dear life because my short 23 years was about to come to an end. Hahaha people, me being dramatic isn’t just to give some humor to this piece but because it’s reality haha. 

I didn’t technically start my internship till the 26, which was on a Friday.  My advisor just gave me a quick intro of New Light and how things run, then she gave me directions of the shopping mall and a coffee shop. She saw that I was falling asleep. She understood that I was lacking sleep. I mean I was still wearing the same clothes I left my house…which of course was 3 days ago. Which much gratitude I ran out went to the grocery store, and had to convince people I was not Indian.  I mean till this day people keep thinking I’m Indian. This will come in my favor later on in my blog post. 

That night I realized that I couldn’t just buy things that looked like American food, like milk. The milk I had with my cereal that night was a bit creamy, crunchy… let’s just say it wasn’t the milk I was used to. I found out the next day it was supposed to be boiled because I actually I forgot why but I learned my lesson. I needed to ask my advisor to go with me on my next shopping  adventure. 

My advisor is pretty amazing, her name is Avantika. That name for some reason gives her some spice to her, a back story. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because it’s the only Indian name I can actually pronounce and remember. Anyways, while we were looking for some salsa dancing we came across a night tour. Of course she seems to know my interest and 5 seconds later I signed up.

My night tour buddies (please excuse my outer appearance, I’m drenched in my own sweat) 
 Let Us Go was the tour company I went with. The night tour began at 10:40pm and went till 5am. There was A LOT of walking involved and some very short van rides. Even though temperatures were high 90s with lots of humidity, I enjoyed every bit of the tour. The guides were amazing, friendly, and funny. We even  had the pleasure of having a famous blogger name Rangan Datta (www.rangandatta.wordpress.com). The group I had were all so kind and took me in under the wing. The couple standing next to  invited me for tea at their place, which happened to be like a few blocks from my place. So about the photo above, it was taken around 3am at a local famous tea place see pic below:

To the right with the white shirt is Rangan and to the left with a white shirt is Alinda (Tour Guides)

Finally, my internship is already making me feel so happy I took a flight to this hot weather. The children really make you smile. Sometimes the heat tries to wear me down and make me feel odd, but when I’m with the children I realize it’s all worth it. Yesterday, 5/30 we went to a science museum (note their was no air conditioning). When we got there I was told by the team leaders to not speak as we were going inside. This was because I look Indian and we were able to get local prices rather then they pay for the foreign price. My looks finally came to play. I was grateful they didn’t have to pay double for me. As the tour went on I was starting to get light headed and frustrated with myself. The heat makes me think negative. It’s like this error that tries to suckered your life away. But staring at the kids and watching them laugh and play, all my problems would melt away. We all have all other  be grateful for and at that moment things came to perspective. Not many people have the opportunity to help others that are in need, especially in a foreign country. I realized I’m not their to change or make the lives of all this kids better. I’m there to learn, observe, listen, and help make them smile. 

They are why I choose this type of internship. 

Ok thanks for taking time to read over my first week of adventures! Till next time ❤

My Summer Awaits

Image result for traveling

So after you finished reading my last post, you are probably anxious/curious to know where and what I am doing this summer!

My summer will pretty much consist of me trying new food, lots of walking, meeting new people, laughing, crying, more laughing, jumping off a cliff (to the ocean of course), research, filming, photo taking, more research, learning about new cultures, adapting to the environment, learning, growing, becoming an even more INDEPENDT WOMAN and yes finally more research.

Here is my itinerary (a simplified version):

May 23-July 19 (Kolkata, India)

On May 23, I will be flying off to Kolkata, India! This internship will take place till July 19. While interning for New Light, I will be focusing on development, learn more about their empowerment programs, and be a part of their gender-based violence advocacy team. This is going to be such an AMAZING experience. I know that it’s going to be really HOT and HUMID, plus it’s their monsoon season…so I am expecting lots and lots of rain. BUT this will not kill my joy and gratitude!

Check out New Light

http://www.newlightindia.org/index.php

July 20-July23 (Kolkata, India)

Hopefully staying with a family till I head out.

July 23-July 29 (Bali, Indonesia)

Yes, you read it correctly, I will be in Bali. The land of the beaches and summer fun! This is the first country I will be conducting my research on manhood. It’s going to be interesting, because this is my first time doing anything like this. I have a nice professional to film and take pics and I also have a set questions. This is pretty much what I’ll be doing in the next countries below.

July 29-August 7 (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Besides my research, I will be hopefully hanging out with some friends from school who live in or around Jakarta! I will also be traveling with someone to the rainforest that holds the Orangutans. Sleeping on a boat meant for 2-3, under the stars will definitely be a moment to cherish!

August 7-August 13 (Bangkok, Thailand)

I will then fly on over and continue the research.

 August 13-August 20 (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Getting to Siem Reap will definitely be a journey. Instead of flying I will be on a 11-hour bus ride. Once I get to the border of Cambodia, I will have to walk through a 2-hour security check and receive my tourist visa. Yes, I know what you are thinking “why on earth would she do this to herself…” Besides the fact the bus ticket was only 29 dollars, I decided to do this for the experience. I’ll let you know after this long journey if it was worth it.

August 20- 25 (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

And this is where my summer ends.

 

Here is some important info to know about:

I will not be taking my phone with me or my laptop. I will just have a camera and a tablet. The tablet will only have my blog app, and FB messenger (NOT FB). To reach me, please feel free to comment on my blog, send me a quick message via messenger, or email me at nohemy.johnson@gmail.com. I repeat I WILL NOT HAVE MY PHONE. So that means no snapchat, no Facebook, no insta, no twitter, no tumblr, no skype, literally nothing.

Yes, I will bring sunscreen and mosquito spray. I will also have a mini first-aid kit.

Ok guys, now you all know. Please keep good thoughts/prayers for me while I’m abroad.

So much love to you all ❤

I want to give a quick  shout out to a few people:

THANK YOU SO MUCH: Dr. Billy Miller, Dr. Karen Haire, Dr. Sally Steindorf, my Dad, my mom, anyone who donated to the cause, Principia College, to my all my close friends (you know who you are), to myself (haha), and MOST importantly to God.

Upcoming Summer!

I don’t even know how to start this. So here it goes. This summer, I am going to be embarking on an incredible life changing journey. About three months ago, I began to apply to one specific internship in D.C. I believed so hard that this was the right thing for me. That I NEEDED that internship so my resume could look more prestigious. I was dead set on this. Although I had no intentions of applying anywhere else, I kept searching the web.

Of course I found nothing. When I submitted my application something didn’t feel right, but at that moment I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly that was off putting. As weeks were passing by, I kept getting nervous and putting myself down. This is something I was not accustom to. Normally, when I want something I just go for it, without thinking about my qualifications or anything. I also never put myself down when it’s something that is meant for me. So after not hearing anything back for about a month, a friend told me something about myself that I hadn’t even noticed. She wasn’t understanding why I kept focusing on that ONE PARTICULAR internship, when it was obvious I didn’t want it. I of was baffled by this realization, because at that moment I realized I didn’t want it and that prestige has never been something I aimed for. She also said when I wanted something, I would put all my energy into getting it, and then would focus on the good of everything. I wouldn’t even question if it was my right place or not. WOOOOW this was big. How did she realize this and not me? It’s funny how we can overlook our own intuition. She was right.

A few days later, I was scrolling through my Instagram and came across a photo of children laughing from the New Light organization in Kolkata, India. New Light is a non-profit that rehabilitates children and women back into society. I was introduced to this amazing organization my freshmen year at Principia College. After looking at that picture for several minutes, I realized that is what I wanted to do this summer. Be around strong women who were helping others in need. So before I knew it I was inquiring about internship possibilities.

I’m not even kidding you, literally everything started to fall into place. One door closed and another one became wide open for me. I even was able to get different forms of funding for this trip. My college is seriously super generous to its students. Without the funding they provided for me, this dream of mine would not be happening. God always has a path in store for us, we just have to be willing to listen and be guided.

On May 23, I will be flying to Kolkata, India. I will be working alongside some amazing people, and I really look forward to working with Urmi Basu, the founder. Now this incredible summer doesn’t stop there. I will then be flying to 4 other different countries! Once I am done with my internship, I will then embark on a journey to further my research on “Manhood” and my ultimate dream to combating sexual assault/rape. Ok well sorry I’m not about to explain all of that. Trust me, this post is already too long. If you want to know more about my research or my internship, please feel free to message me.

 I will be posting a separate post about my itinerary and more cool things about my summer! Thank you ❤