My name is Taylr Nobis and I am a sophomore nursing student here at the University of Iowa. Traveling to India started out as a mere dream during my first semester of my freshman year. When I first heard about the India Winterim program I thought that it sounded like an amazing experience, but having never been out of the country (and barely out of the Midwest!), I never thought it would be something I would actually do. I put it out of my mind for almost a year, but in what seemed like a blink of the eye I was opening my acceptance letter to the program. It was quite the dream come true- I had always wanted to travel the world and this was such a great start to my worldwide adventure! A mixture of excitement, anxiety, joy, and fear of the unknown filled me as I envisioned living an entire planet away from the life I was used to. Once the day finally arrived, I pushed my nerves down and set foot on the biggest plane I had ever seen in my life, which was a good metaphor for me facing the biggest adventure of my life so far.
Although I am ¼ African American, I am very light skinned, to the point of appearing almost entirely Caucasian. This leads to people constantly verifying that I have my information correct when I tell them my racial background. Due to this fact, I find it hard to connect with and feel like I belong to such a strong, fruitful heritage. I am telling you this because, as unexpected as it was, traveling to India truly helped me connect to my identity as an African American woman, despite not consciously knowing so until after I returned home. For this, I will forever be grateful for getting the chance to experience something so much bigger than myself.
Back in middle school and high school history classes, we learned about the slave trade and outward racism experienced by dark-skinned people for centuries. I thank God every day that so many amazing people devoted their lives to freedom to get America to where we are today. Diversity is seen everywhere in America, but that is not the case in India. The vast majority of Indian citizens are dark-skinned, making any light-skinned tourists stick out like a sore thumb. Walking the streets, you could feel eyes watching you from every direction, not out of hate or dislike, but rather out of curiosity. I was even told that we were the first light-skinned people that this person had ever seen, and then asked for a picture with us to remember the experience by. As nice as the person was and as cute as that experience had been, it really got me thinking about how big this world is, and how unintentionally small our perspectives can be. This world is bigger than I can imagine, so I often find myself thinking the entire world consists of where I am currently. It’s hard to always be aware of every single country in the world, and the seven billion people that occupy this planet, so it’s just easier to think of the world in a smaller perspective. Some people have never seen someone outside of their skin color, and with every new thing, our interests spike. Hopefully, the interest isn’t curved to a direction of negativity and hate, but rather like the ones I experienced in India- warm welcomes and kind gestures. If only everyone in this world were as nice as the people I met in India were, I believe my ancestors may not have had to suffer as much as they did for me to live the life that I am today.
Overall, my trip to India was completely inspiring; I learned so much about my future career as a nurse, as well as the wonderful culture and lovely people. I am very glad to have had this opportunity of a lifetime, and I hope your experiences traveling abroad are just as amazing!