I arrived in Rishi Valley on June 27, 2018 for 3.5 weeks with a fairly simple goal - to do some filming of the school, make a video about it and hopefully make some friends along the way. But, I got so much more out of my stay. Here are my thoughts and reflections, some of which have been shared with the folks at Rishi Valley.
For those of you who don’t know me my name is Nakul, and I live in the bay area, California, where we have redwood trees, beaches and hippies. If you haven’t already met me most of you have probably wondered at some point “who’s that handsome guy with the camera and tripod and what is he doing here of all places?”
My mother is an old student here, class of 1988, and she has helped set up an internship program through the Rishi Valley Alumni Association (RiVAA). I am the first intern to go through the program and if everything goes according to plan, there will be 1 or 2 interns coming every July. Unless I manage to accidentally burn down the school in the next two days, then we probably won’t be invited back!
My project was to film aspects of the school and its surroundings, as well as interview
people to make a promotional video to update RV alumni on what’s going on at RV and what they can do to help.
At the beginning of the summer I was actually a little bummed out that i would be spending almost my entire summer in India with a bunch of kids I had never met before instead of hanging out with my friends at home.
I want to start off by thanking everyone here for making my stay so enjoyable. Everyone I have met here has been so kind and welcoming towards me. If I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, well I leave in 2 days so it’s probably too late. I mean if you want to skip class and hang out with me I’m sure your teachers will be fine with it.
There are some great experiences that I have had here which I would not have had back home. The World Cup finals for example, that was a pretty awesome experience. Who won again? That’s right Croatia won. In the US no one really cares about football, we only care about the real football, American football, where the ball rarely ever touches your foot and it’s not even a ball in the first place.
I also watched a cricket match for the first time. I now understand how to play the game,
but I am yet to understand why you play the game. But hey I respect all you cricket players, I think it’s amazing how you don’t fall asleep while standing in the outfield all day.
Another thing I have really enjoyed about this place is going to folky every Sunday evening. The closest thing we have to folky in American schools are school dances like prom, and homecoming where a DJ plays bad music and everyone jumps around and bumps into each other. So basically just like folky.
But the best thing I have experienced here by far is the Dining hall. While I have heard some strong opinions about the food, I have been eating my Mom’s cooking for 15 years. The Dining Hall is like a five star restaurant in comparison. (I only had the guts to make that joke because she’s not here right now. No one tell her I said that.)
I have been asked a lot of questions about what my high school is like, and if I think it is better than over her. There are some things
about American high schools that you may be jealous of. For example we have much more freedom. We are allowed to sit wherever we like for lunch. Also, the policy on electronic devices such as cell phones is much more lenient and in many classes we are allowed to have them out or use them, which sounds great until exams come around and you realize you spent the entire semester playing clash of clans instead of paying attention in class.
Aside from those few things, there’s a lot here that I am jealous of. You have a beautiful campus and surroundings, you have so many great people.
There is also an actual hospital here which you are very lucky to have. If you show up to the school’s nurse office in an American public school, the most treatment you are going to get is a band-aid, or maybe some ice.
You may take this life you have here for granted as many of you have been going here for a long time. There’s a saying, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Many think this applies to wealth or materialistic items but I think it applies to experiences as well. I have gone on a few hikes during my stay, and I’m glad I went on each one. How many of you have ever been on a hike here? So all of you will be able to relate to this series of thoughts. During the hike: “Wow this is the worst. Why on earth would I volunteer to walk up a mountain for two hours while I could be sleeping instead.” Then as soon as you get back you tell your friends, “Wow, that was almost as boring as this mornings assembly.” Almost. Then whether it be a day or a week or even a year later, you remember your experience, or the view you saw, or the feeling you had when you reached the top of the mountain and it sticks with you. Last summer I had the opportunity to go on a 12 day, 110 mile or for you metric system people 175 kilometer backpacking trip in the rocky mountains in New Mexico. I think it was easily the most memorable experience for me. However, it took me a while to become fully aware of this fact. As I slept on the cold hard ground there, I dreamt of my warm soft bed back home. When I came home, after a few days of enjoying that comfortable bed and my air conditioned house, I dreamt of being back there sleeping on rocks in my cramped sleeping bag. Why? Because what came with my discomfort was a lifetime of memories and growth. You don’t always know what memories are going to stick with you forever, sometimes it's the most random things you end up remembering and revering down the line. The only way to make those memories, is to step outside of your comfort zone and live your life in the moment, enjoy your experiences while you still can. Go on a hike here. Participate in clubs or sports. Make friends. Whether you like it or not, you are going to be associated with your classmates the rest of your life and you won’t ever forget them. Right now actually my mom is celebrating her 30 year reunion with her classmates, so they aren’t going away anytime soon.
In just three weeks here I have met plenty of people that I am going to remember for the rest of my life. What I want all of you to take away, is you all have a great opportunity here, don’t focus on the things that you dislike here, you aren’t going to remember what you math class or that one test you had to take you’re not. Focus on the things you will remember in 30 years, acting in the play, participating in the RV quiz, the countless crazy things that inevitably happen in your houses. Remember and enjoy those things and your time here at RV will be worth it.