Different Faiths, United Week

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

This blog post was written by Anu Kalpathi, a Hindu student from India in the graduate physical therapy program at UIndy.

I was asked to write about my one week experience as a volunteer for the Appalachia Service Project at Jonesville, VA, quite some time back. I might have sat to pen it down only today, but I have been thinking about it for days together, every spare moment – trying to recapture that golden week, that was lush with beautiful memories, laughter, the beginning of many friendships and so much more.

I remember the day we left –

Half past six on a dark Sunday morning found me standing on my porch sipping hot coffee, my  numb fingers, wrapped around the warm mug, trying to steal some warmth and willing myself to be calm my qualms. “It won’t be that bad”, I consoled myself. I was excited about the trip, about its purpose, and that I finally felt like I was doing something meaningful. But somehow, that was not sufficient to allay my fears and anxiety about the unknown.

However, as soon as I met the other students and we began our journey, I started enjoying myself. The week that ensued was truly blissful. Our team got the opportunity of working on the construction of a wheelchair ramp for a lovely couple. George and Debra had a nice home, situated on a small hill. Do not mistake them for a lonely couple, though. They had plenty of company, in the form of 5 puppies, a spider, a horse, hens, even a flying squirrel! But what really touched me was that, almost all these animals had been left stranded without a home and would have been orphaned if not for these two amazing people. George and Debra may not be rich enough to afford a big home and the luxuries that surround it, but they definitely had big and warm hearts to make a home for all that wandered in, literally. There is much to learn from this couple, who were so hospitable and welcoming, that we felt right at home.

Something that I still reflect upon with wonder is the camaraderie that we all developed and shared with one another. We were but strangers who had met a week before, but by the end of the week, there was a very strong bond which united all of us.

There was something else that had an impact on me on this trip – the devotion service and prayers every morning and night. I am a Hindu, and I found myself drawing several parallels between Christianity and Hinduism. I was driven to think in depth after this. Does it matter what faith we are from? What race or culture we belong to? If we are white, black or brown? What brought such a diverse group together during that one week in the Appalachians was not that we were from the University, or that we were students. It was the fact that, we all had faith – albeit different. We had faith and the belief that we could make a difference; the want to do something good and to try and make someone’s life better.  I am sure all of us there had different reasons for being there, different motivations driving us – ultimately, it is the work we do that counts and makes a difference.

Anu Kalpathi



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nic Cable, Mark Wolfe. Mark Wolfe said: http://bit.ly/hEXdKb @IFYC Check out Indian student Anu Kalpathi share her experience at ASP from a Hindu perspective #BetterTogether […]

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