An excellent question: “What do you plan to do?”

My friend John just read my last post and asked me a prudent and provocative question:

What do you plan to do, or envision yourself doing down the road, may I ask?

That’s exactly the question: What can I do?

India’s getting richer. Its middle class is enjoying a level of prosperity that wasn’t available to them years ago. But this newfound wealth doesn’t solve India’s problems. How do you get that wealth to trickle down to the people who need help the most? All year I lived a lifestyle that 2/3 of India’s population isn’t lucky enough to enjoy. In America, I’m enjoying a life that almost every Indian loves to think about loving (whether or not they would really love it). Just the fact you’re reading this means you probably have the prosperity that many Indians strive for.

I don’t have a great answer to your question, John. But the solution to India’s problems – as they are in any developing country – are multi-faceted. There is no one magic wand that can be waved – solving these problems will require a group effort, a collaboration. I will be returning to India sometime, and when I do, hopefully it will be with the ability to educate people more effectively. This last trip was for me to learn about India. I was a student. Now I’m also a teacher. When I return I want to better help people help themselves (and in Hindi this time).

And again I want to emphasize something: India is on the right track. There are countless projects around the country helping people, and they will continue – the cleft lip project, water sanitation projects, Polio eradication projects. Wherever you are in the world, you can help with these. And there are many ways to help. I’ve read books from ten years ago that paint pictures of India far bleaker than the ones I have this year. Nor will India in ten years be the same country that it is today. Change has come quickly, and it will continue to come, thanks in large part to such service projects.

For now, all I can do is make people aware of Indian life. I’m going to keep writing on India, keep studying Hindi, keep in touch with the wonderful people I’ve met, and keep learning more about how to help the country I’ve grown to love. My exchange will continue from America – the connections I’ve made this year will never be broken. In time, my memories will fade; the life I lived will less resemble the lives to be lived.

But I don’t ever want to forget this year. I never will. And someday I’ll go back. I don’t know what I’ll do then, but hopefully it will be with a more complete vision for how to make India stronger and suffer less.

I want to ask you all what John asked me: What are your ideas? What more can be done? What do you plan to do?

🙂

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4 Responses to “An excellent question: “What do you plan to do?””

  1. Ben Zehr Says:

    I have answer to your question if you’re interested. Email address?

  2. John Says:

    Hehe, thank you for your response. You as a teacher sporting the requisite tweed jacket would be an imposing but believable picture of the future. Well, scratch the tweed jacket and it might still work, if you’re fortuitous and arduous in your studies at Berkley.

    As to answer my/your question… I don’t know. To help the world in some small way is an admirable, but knowing how and when and where one can most prudently and effectively help is the challenge. One must always remember that the definitions of help, morality, and “doing good”, can never be universals, not between one person and the next, and certainly not between different cultures. One person’s blessing is another’s curse in disguise… and predicting long-term ramifications of any action is always a challenge (if not paralytic of the potential actions to be undertaken). I presently do not know. I am daunted by our lack of time on this Earth. I hope and think that you would be a wonderful teacher. Is that the best course for me? Should I do what Sutton does, and help out in Mississippi, where the poverty and way of life is diametric to the Uni one I’ve lead? Whatever career I end up choosing, I wish for it to be one I can enjoy and not feel, to quote Holden, “phony” about. And yet– if the way I feel is doing nothing more than skirting the pressing societal problems for personal happiness…

    I don’t know yet! I’ll keep in mind all the luck that you’ve talked about, try to learn about other places and perspectives at college, continue to search for something to latch onto. Like reading this wonderful blog, please keep it up.

    • cyoder Says:

      Sorry, John, but I wasn’t referring myself to becoming a “tweed jacket” kind of teacher, nor was I necessarily referring to choosing teaching as a profession (though I haven’t ruled that out). Rather, I plan to make teaching a habit, helping people learn about the things I’m familiar with, and spreading worldwide knowledge and understanding. Knowledge is the best way to combat the cultural differences you were talking of, and learning about them is a prerequisite for effectively helping them out.

      I wholeheartedly agree that one should have passion for their career, working not just for money or timepass, but as a way of making the world better. Too many people fail to see this, whether they’ll admit it or not.

      And as for our lack of time on Earth? That’s why it’s so important to make the most of it! Carpe Diem!

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