Dear future intern,
It feels like just yesterday that I was submitting my application, practicing interview questions, and refreshing my email every two seconds to see if there was any news from CAPI. Packing and repacking, hugging my mom goodbye, and finally getting on the plane that would land hours later in New Delhi, India. Stepping out of the airport into 45 degree heat, weaving through traffic so different from anything I had ever seen that I forgot how exhausted I was, and being introduced to 30 + people in the PRIA head office after two days of travel and maybe four hours of sleep. Learning how to bargain with auto drivers, venturing out of the PRIA building for the first time with Mikaela (turning back when we started to feel overwhelmed after 5 minutes), and discovering momos and sacch mucch aam popsicles at the corner. Two months later, leaving what had finally become familiar to me in Delhi, finding a new familiar in the five minute walk to the Ajmer field office every day, taking the city bus through the mountains to Pushkar by myself for the first time. Learning how to make chai, meeting translators and carrying out my first interviews, figuring out India’s train system and booking tickets to go explore ancient forts in Jaipur, sand dunes in Jaisalmer, and palaces in Udaipur. And then waiting on the platform as my friend ran to catch me before my train departed, waving goodbye, and stepping onto another plane that would take me out of what had somehow become home over the last 6 months.
This is a difficult blog to write because it’s the last one, and so I feel like it needs to perfectly articulate the highest highs, the lowest lows, and everything in between of the last 6 months – the challenges, the successes and the failures, what I learned and unlearned and relearned. But, as my time in India taught me, letting go of expectations is important. So, I am letting go of the ‘perfect, succinct-but-in-depth summary, with wise words of advice’ expectation for this blog- and if you are reading this, or if you have read any of my other blogs, know that they are only little snippets of much, much larger experience, which I am only just starting to fully process, reflect on and piece together. I have a lot more to share!
I wrote my first blog about the struggle I had with releasing expectations that I didn’t even realize I had formed prior to arriving in India and starting work with PRIA. ‘Let go of your expectations’ is a piece of advice that you will hear countless times before you leave, while you’re away, and even once you return. I think almost all of the ‘Dear Future Interns’ blogs, from this year and from previous years, include this advice, and for good reason: it is valuable advice, and if you are able to go in to your internship with an open mind, and a willingness to reflect on and deconstruct expectations that come up while you’re there, you will have a more enjoyable and more rewarding time.
That being said, with each piece of advice that is given to you, every goal that you set for yourself, and every person who you look to for guidance and inspiration, remind yourself that if you don’t always carry out that advice, meet your goals, or do what another person in your shoes might or did do, it’s okay! Push yourself, and be open to and excited for challenge, because that’s where so much learning and growth comes from, but be kind to yourself on the days that you don’t end up doing that. Let go of the expectations that you place on yourself as well as those that you place on the internship and everyday life and the people and country around you, and treat yourself the way you would treat a close friend- with honesty and constructive feedback when necessary, but always with kindness, encouragement, support, and understanding.
Good luck! Before you know it you will be writing this same blog yourself – so soak it all up while you’re there, ask questions, engage in critical thinking and conversations, reach out to the people around you, your friends and family at home, and the CAPI community… let go of expectations, and don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all rooting for you!
All the best,