Dear Celanese,

Thank you so much for the privilege of going to India for the Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) in June. The things I got to see and experience have left me a different person.

I had never been to India before, and I found the country to be everything I had imagined and more. The sights and sounds and smells (both good and bad) were overwhelming at first. During the course of the two weeks there we learned not to be frustrated because the hot water wasn’t working, among other cultural differences.

While in India I found the people to be warm and friendly and loving. The children that we worked with in the early childhood education center were precious, and while the language barrier was difficult, we found other ways to communicate the necessities. It turns out that smiles are a universal language! By the time we left, it was so neat to hear them counting in English while playing hopscotch, reciting the ABCs and singing the songs that we taught them. I think I’ve sung “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” enough to last me a lifetime! They even taught us a little Hindi, even if it might have had a little bit of my southern accent!

Seeing the conditions that people lived in brought pity at first, but then I realized that they are happy without so much that we consider essential for living. It made me wonder if maybe they weren’t the ones who are better off since they weren’t always chasing more and more “stuff!” I think maybe I learned more from the children than they learned from me.

Again, thank you for allowing me to go. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The chance to go to another country and experience another culture was such a rich experience, but being able to get to know some of the people, especially the children, made it exceptional.

Christy Thompson

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of 9 blog posts by Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP) team members who served for two weeks in Dharamsala, India.