Last Two Days in India

We’ve combined a few posts to make it more convenient for everyone! Enjoy!



Friday morning was all about preparation for the closing ceremony. We rose at the crack of dawn, had breakfast, and drove to the IIC. There, the Roshni girls taught six of us (Katja, Karly, Ellie, Shivani, Mckenna and I) a fun Bollywood dance, and our artistic directors taught all the Roshni girls the Cha Cha Slide. Then we rehearsed our songs and speeches. Paris took on the massive challenge of writing and delivering a speech on the Casti perspective of our Roshni partnership, so big kudos to her. Claire was elected to read her wonderful “20 years later” story on her Roshni partner, Hema, and Fiza read her story on Mckenna.

Our lunch was bittersweet, because although it was, as always, an awesome amount of fun, it was also our last one as a unit.

After we ate, we said our “See you laters” to the Roshni girls and took off for PARLIAMENT!

As some of you may know, India is the world’s largest democracy, and we got to visit the central hub of governmental activity. The buildings in parliament are vast and majestic. The people are serious and a little scary. The guards had really big guns. The historical museum with all the animatronic plaster people was interesting but truly terrifying. By way of these dead-eyed historical figures, we learned the history of the conflict between Britain and India and the transferral of power between the two that happened one midnight in 1947.

Fun fact: Did you know that the main rooms of parliament (the equivalents to the Senate and the House) have designs in the shapes of giant eyes on the ceiling? They are there to remind the officials that God is constantly judging them.

After that educational experience, we went home to have dinner. After dinner, we had a surprise! Avipsha arranged to have a professional choreographer come and teach us a Bollywood medley dance so we could surprise the girls at the closing ceremony!

This was truly an experience. Full disclosure: it took much longer than any of us anticipated. It took roughly 500 years to learn a five minute dance. There were times that I thought I might pass out from exhaustion. But still, we danced, because we imagined the smiles on the Roshni girls’ faces. And also because when you finally nailed a sequence you felt pretty amazing. The length of the session was also in part due to the video player we were using to play the music. Every so often it would freeze in the middle of a song. It was a little like the game Red Light Green Light. The part that was exciting was that it would un-freeze itself, but only after a random amount of time. Sometimes ten seconds, sometimes 30. It added a pleasing air of unpredictability to our movements, but it slowed our process greatly.

BUT! We finished it! And as you will later read, it was well worth the trouble.

Then we all piled into a single room downstairs because despite our tiredness we were determined to BOND!

What followed it strictly out of bounds for this blog post, because what happens in room 301 stays in room 301. But it was emotional. And we can all agree it brought us closer together.

Then we all went to bed. Well, most of us. Personally, I went with a group of friends to the roof. By then, it was past midnight, but the sky was lit up orange from the windows of houses all around us. No moon, but it was still plenty bright. It was a beautiful thing to see on our last full night.


Delhi at Midnight



Claire: Saturday

Our day began early as we headed to the IIC for the closing ceremony. The closing ceremony is a much anticipated performance that combines speeches, dance performances, songs, stories and skits from both Roshni girls and Castilleja girls as well as their teachers, supporters, and other speakers.

The auditorium filled with the supportive parents of the Roshni girls and the excitement in the room was palpable. A few tears were spotted as speech after speech provided motivation and support to everyone in the room. A highlight of the ceremony was the surprise the Roshni girls had in store for us — a choreographed dance to Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” Fortunately, we had a surprise for them as well — a dance to three popular Indian songs. When we finished, the Roshni girls came on stage and we had a small dance party before breaking off to take pictures and say our final, teary goodbyes.

After lunch we split into four groups to visit the homes of some of the Roshni girls. Each home was sparse and the poverty was unlike anything many of us had seen before. However, the home I visited was also filled with adorable children, laughter, and hospitality. Later, many of us agreed that we were glad that we got to know the Roshni girls before visiting their homes, because we were able to understand them as full people and become friends and equals instead of just feeling pity. And learn that they love of Taylor Swift like we do.

This evening, we headed to the Hassans’ house. They gave us beautiful sari’s and served us delicious Indian food, a final meal before we head home. Now we’re off to the airport. See you on the flip side!



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  • Jill Keene

    McKenna, Looks as if you are heading for the USA. I don’t say ‘home’ because you will be taking a bit of your new friends souls. And they yours. What an experience. Remember the dances so we can see them.And if you would like we can practice Yoga together. Is it Hatha?

    We love you ALL..What special women!

    Memaw and Pepaw

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