Magazine Feature

Monica Kumar: Lessons from India

Photo courtesy of Monica Kumar

Photo courtesy of Monica Kumar

My undergraduate time at the University of Denver challenged me and forced me to learn and grow in unique ways. It was four years of pure joy, whether it was making lifelong friends on campus or around the globe. I was fortunate enough to study abroad twice while at DU, first in Dharamsala, India, in 2006 and again in Madrid, Spain, in 2008. One of my greatest memories was my trip to Dharamsala as part of a DU service-learning program.

Having visited India numerous times to see family, I felt comfortable with the culture shift and looked forward to being challenged by larger issues — including the economy and the situation facing Tibetans in exile. Over the course of six weeks, I tutored an exiled Tibetan monk named Yeshi. As we studied English, Yeshi recounted memories of his family in Tibet, whom he will most likely never see again. While sharing stories, I began to see through Yeshi’s eyes. This man, who has practically been to his grave and survived, learned to persevere and connect with all people throughout his journey. I took this lesson from Yeshi and continue to apply it.

For me, Dharamsala was not only a learning experience, but also an internal transformation. This trip allowed me to realize who I was — an American with an Indian heart. It has been eight years since Dharamsala, and I am still reminded of that internal growth.

While the opportunities the University brings to students on campus are incredible, it was those that both literally and figuratively took me to new places that challenged me, changed me and made me who I am today.


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