November 10, 2016, 7:46 PM
Photo by Sally Mahé
My wonderful experience at the Traveling Peace Academy (TPA) still lingers in my mind and it will linger on 'till the end of my days. Little did I know that the six days I spent at the URI's TPA in Kerala would change the way I perceive this world we live in. It is an experience I can never forget.
I was blessed to have had this experience in one of the most beautiful places in India. Known as God's own country, Kerala and her bountiful beauty made my experience fulfilling. It filled my soul with bliss. I loved every minute of my time in the midst of nature, waking up to birds singing, watching the sunset. It truly is the land of God. And what made it sweeter was that I was surrounded by kindred spirits. Our morning walks in nature always made my day. I felt that I belonged there.
Interacting with an interfaith gathering of people from different parts of the world, belonging to various cultures and religion, has done what it was meant to; transform me. I felt like this program was intended to make us realize the importance of unity because it is unity that brings peace. Personal interactions with the participants left me speechless. The stories we shared had depth, reality and raw emotions. At that moment, I felt like I was one with them. I was overwhelmed with empathy when I listened to the experiences some of my fellow participants have had. They spoke from the heart. Their stories gripped me and I felt their sadness, fears, happiness and joy.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities that were conducted. It not only brought us closer to each other but uplifted my mood in a way that I cannot begin to describe. The group discussions gave me a lot of insight on what is going on in the world and what can be done to change it. Listening to the others talk about their views, made me realize that we all want the same result; a world filled with love, compassion and peace.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and now I strive to bring that change in me so that I may be able to mend our wonderful world in my own small ways. It has been an eye-opening experience for me at TPA. With crystal clarity I understand that my journey of building peace within and to others has begun. I will cherish the memories with all my heart. I'm forever grateful for this amazing experience and to the amazing people that were a part of it.
Raksha Kothari, Yoga Teacher for TPA