This summer I’m interning in New Delhi, India with The Mrida Group, a social enterprise dedicated to development work throughout rural India. I am working with their Earthspired brand, which seeks to develop market linkages for rural farmers in order to create and sustain livelihood practices. This experience has been incredible, challenging me in many ways. From learning to navigate a new workplace culture to understanding how to travel throughout India, each experience has truly taught me new knowledge about this country and about myself.
Many times throughout the summer, I have been placed in what would typically be considered “uncomfortable" situations.” 118 degrees Fahrenheit weather, absolutely hectic traveling situations, and many different social norms have often created times where I was, let’s just say, less than thrilled. Yet, I have really tried to take each of these experiences in stride, not because I want connect more deeply to my own thoughts and feelings, but because I have an opportunity to connect with those of others. Indeed, being in this new environment has given me a unique opportunity to grapple with the all-important word— perspective.
And oddly enough, I think the place that has taught me the most about this word at UVA is Hillel. It would seem that Hillel might not be the place most conducive to showing me different perspectives on a variety of topics…everyone does happen to be Jewish! Yet, I often feel, with the grounding of our Judaism allowing us to connect, the people I’ve met at Hillel have showed me diverse perspectives far beyond what I expected. From different conceptions about Israel, religiosity, and traditions to broader thoughts on UVA and general life advice, the friends I have made through Hillel have truly exposed me to new ideas much different than my own. Having a basis that we can connect with on a deep level allows us to delve into intense conversations that I have found to be incredibly impactful. This exposure has helped me navigate the tough situations I have faced here, and is something that I will forever be grateful for.
Thinking ahead to this school year, I am so excited to come back to Hillel. I plan to continue my involvement in many different aspects of Hillel, and hope to try something new as well. As always, it will be exciting to meet the new Jewish students, and hopefully I can help them navigate their first year experience, both with Hillel and with UVA at large. It’s incredibly comforting to know that I have Hillel to come back to when I return to Charlottesville, and I’m looking forward to another fantastic year.
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,800 Jewish students on Grounds.