Funded by the U.S. Department of State 

By Alice McGuiness, NSLI-Y year program student, Hosted at Indore

“At first, I was nervous about spending a year in India, a country located 8,000 miles away from my home in Wisconsin. But the experience has turned out to be “बाएँ हाथ का खेल”; a Hindi phrase that means “left hand’s game” or the equivalent of “a piece of cake”.

The reason why? My wonderful host family.  Within the first few days, my fear of living far from home melted as fast as a kulfi. Over my seven months here in India, my host family’s love and support have permitted me to both become a part of the family and explore Indian culture. I came to Indore to learn Hindi with the support of a NSLI-Y scholarship. My host family’s encouragement in our daily conversations has helped me become a more fluent speaker. By including me in daily actions, my family has helped me to truly feel immersed here. I love chatting with my host mom around our city, stopping for ‘Pani-puri’ and chai. I ask my family for advice about daily challenges, such as how to approach a teacher or how to dress for a special event. For instance, my host mom helped me to choose a saree for our school’s farewell. At Christmas, I was fortunate enough to travel with my family to Rajasthan. My host parents shared their insights into each place we saw, enabling me to gain deeper knowledge about a new state.

Outing with host sister, Desert Safari

Part of my desire to live in India stems from my ninth standard World History class, where I was fascinated by Indian religions. I was eager to learn more upon my arrival here. At a Ganeshji temple that we visited in Indore, my family guided me through the throngs of worshippers, bright lights and sea of orange ‘Ladoo’. At each idol we visited, I joined with them in their worship- from getting ‘kalava’ tied around our wrists to whispering into the ear of the Nandi bull. As we approached the main idol of Ganeshji, we were invited inside the inner sanctum. As I prayed next to my host mom, I reflected on our time spent together, and I felt right at home. “सच में, उन्होंने मुझे परिवार का हिस्सा बनाया।” They have truly made me a part of the family. I couldn’t be more excited to spend my remaining three months with them.”