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I have been home from Talasari, India for over a week now. The experience was long and difficult. I feel that I got a very real sense of life in a developing area, as I lived it myself and observed the people in the community live. The main thing I felt and observed was a sense of exhaustion. I felt it myself everyday after working in the schools. I saw it in the words and actions of the people there, as they seemed tired of having to work as hard as they do every single day. Compared to how people live here in the US, these people have essentially non-stop work days whether it be at a business or on their farms. Still, through their exhaustion, they showed and gave joy to each other in every interaction I saw. Despite the injustice they often face, they still find happiness and joy in God, their families, and their community. This experience helped me understand and appreciate how fortunate I am and how I have a responsibility to use my privilege for good every day of my life. This experience also helped me to see how vital education is when combatting injustice. Education is the quickest way to uplift a community. This is something St. Ignatius obviously understood very well, which was his reason for basing the Jesuits as educators. It feels very strange being back, thinking about how nothing stopped here while I was gone, and how, now that I am back, nothing is changed or stopping there. I have talked to some of the Jesuits through WhatsApp since I have been back, and I am able to see how tireless and selfless they really are, as they have options to travel elsewhere through the Jesuits, yet they make the choice to stay in that community and finish their work. Something I learned about myself is how weak I am compared the people in this community, including the Jesuits. I did my best to stay present my whole time, but a once in a while I really felt the desire to be home right away because I was tired. The people in the community live in worse conditions than I did their whole lives and make it work everyday. They are extremely strong and loving, and everyone can learn from their lives. Overall, the experience was very much what I hoped for and expected, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to live there and be in community with everyone I met there. 

-Ricky Matthews


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