A final reflection

In a blink, in a wink, in one more life-flash-before-my-eyes moment while crossing the street, I will be home. I can feel the cold Michigan wind against the tip of my nose, hear the Christmas music, and see the lights glow against snow covered Holland pines. Yet when I pull away from that excitement and slowly resettle, I feel the dry air stick to my cheeks, hear the flute from the temple down the road, and watch friendly children make a water slide out of the Ganges River.

The end is near, but I still have two weeks left to sit here, to be here and to allow India to soak in through each sense. On Sunday, I will finish my internship and fly back to Jaipur for a week of final presentations, catching-up craziness with my beloved program friends and last minute adventures around the city. The chaos of this time, however different, make me feel not too far from the spirit of Hope College finals week. We are ready to close the books. We are ready for weeks of rest. We are ready for good food, for family and for the celebration of another chapter closed. Yet with all the readiness in the world, we cannot change the turning of the days ahead. I know I will be home before I know it.

Part of me wants to say I have found home here, but I know that title for India can never come from me. As much as I have come to know, to understand and to grow, I will always be a guest, a visitor, a friend inside of India. I cannot call any part of this country my own, but I can call upon gratitude for all it has given me. Thank you to Jaipur, to India, to my host family, to my teachers, to the organization I have spent the last month at, to the culture that has allowed me to participate in its celebrations and traditions. Thank you for giving me comfort in times when all that comforts me was out of reach and pushing me past my own expectations when I needed to see my own strength.

I am ready to go home. I am ready to eat my mom’s food, run on my secret trails and spend time with my loving people. But I cannot change the turning of time, the two weeks, the 14 days ahead. So I will let gratitude ground me. I owe India more than wishing time away. In a blink, in a wink, in one more life-flash-before-my-eyes moment while crossing the street, I will be home, but for now I am here and I need to see where the present can go. Thank you for reading throughout the semester. The opportunity to share part of this adventure has given me the courage to let life more fully soak into my days. With this last column, I send the courage for you to do the same.

Sophia Vander Kooy ('20) is a political science and international studies major with an unofficial passion for taking creative writing classes. She was the Production Manager at the Anchor during the spring semester of 2020, and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief. She is also a member of the Women's Track and Cross Country teams at Hope, the STEP Community Outreach Student Director and the Co-President of Hope Yoga. Sophia loves writing, being outside, cooking, running and connecting with all kinds of people. She has found the space to be herself at The Anchor and knows that she is not alone in that.

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