A Homecoming Story
Six years ago, I left home. Little did I know, I embarked on a journey that led me to live in seven different places, spanning five countries.
I arrived onto the campus of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. It was a nice campus, the oldest university in the west, and had a stream running through the center of it. My parents and sister had come to drop me off. It was here I would spend the next three years of my life.
The first job I ever held in my life was in the South. Here in the Bayou, I saw alligators, had southern fried chicken, and learned how to cook with my roommates. We called ourselves Bro My God. I still remember fondly, my first introduction to science: melting powders to form crystals, using electron microscopes, and hearing the constant hum of the vacuum.
The world became large. When I got the opportunity to research in Japan, it was my first time living abroad as an adult in a foreign country. Japan showed me that there can be different ways of governance, doing, and of being.
When I was in Austria, I bought a 1981 green PUCH and rode in the Alps, along the Danube River, and through the city of Vienna. In this world full of castles, ruins, and cathedrals, I found myself lost in a suspended historicity.
For two years I stayed in New York. My 18th floor high rise was graced by our Sun’s daily departure over the Hudson River. Sometimes I would peek my head out the window to see downtown Manhattan’s sky towers fitting perfectly into its uniform grid. I had never worked harder than I had during my time at Columbia. New York afforded me the opportunity to grow beyond my imagined years.
In India, I performed mouth aerobatics to learn Hindi. My golden compass led me to a vast culture to which I would never fully understand.
In the desert hills of Morocco, I sided with the Berber people and with them, channeled water to their community. Daily, I ate meals made from clay pots, mutton brains over couscous, and drank five cups of piping hot mint tea doused with blocks of sugar.
It’s month seven out of ten here in Karnataka, India. Farmers have taught me the importance of our connection to the clay soils to which we come from. After trying wild foraged honey, groundnut chutney, and a magical red fig, I’ve come to know a world of richness and our original identities as stewards of land.
“We are the Kings, we are also the labourers. This is true freedom.” - Viswanath Hegde
It’s now time to head back to America. In September, I begin graduate school at Stanford University under the Design Impact program. A homecoming, six years in the making. A dream sometimes too big to speak of. A possibility only made possible by the those that lent me belief. A lifetime of gratitude to my friends, mentors, and family.
Three months remain until my flight back home. The chaotic times are soon to come, and with a light heart, so too shall they pass.