What Makes the Home-Base Special
When I arrived at the Cross-Cultural Solutions Home-Base in Dharamsala, India last month, I instantly felt at home. The CCS Dharamsala team introduced themselves and shared a bit of their respective stories as we all sipped chai tea in the cozy living room. After we finished our tea, introductions, and a quick Home-Base tour, I went into the bedroom that I'd be sharing with a fellow volunteer and began to unpack and settle in. It's amazing to think back and remember how in just 3 short weeks, every part of it felt like home.
We lived right smack in the middle of all of the natural beauty that Dharamsala has to offer. Each morning I would go on a short hike with a fellow volunteer and 3 times a week, Om, a local yoga instructor would come to the Home-Base and lead us in our practice.
The Home-Base is a place to learn, relax, reflect, and of course, a place where meals and stories are shared. Living there for 3 weeks gave us a chance to connect with the Dharamsala staff in a way that was easy and genuine. The incredible team shared their personal stories and knowledge, and really helped me to understand the culture in India. They even took the time to teach us how to put on traditional Indian clothing, Hindi vocabulary, and how to prepare chai. Each day we learned more about how to live as a part of the community rather than just as somebody merely passing through.
In addition to all of the learning and cultural exchange that seemed to happen naturally in the Home-Base, it was also a great place to push my boundaries. I always felt comfortable asking questions and I knew that no matter what I wanted to know, a member of the CCS Dharamsala team would answer my question in a way that was open, honest, and informative. I even felt more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone where food was concerned. Since the CCS Dharamsala team is expertly trained in food safety, I knew that I could sample new dishes and flavors and need not worry about getting sick.
It's for all of these reasons that I couldn't imagine my volunteer experience being half as comfortable, immersive, and eye-opening had I not had the opportunity to live as a part of the community in the CCS Home-Base. I feel like I have a second home in India!