Kowtukal by DJ Jassal
A couple days ago, we ventured out to Kowtukal, a small beachside village just an hour from Kanyakumari (the southern tip of India). As we approached the village by car, I remember being so astonished by the beauty of the landscape. To the left was a beach, with waves rolling elegantly onto the white sand, and fishermen pursuing their daily tasks. To the right was the village, with the villagers carrying on vibrantly and happily with their day, and cows sitting peacefully in the grass. In the distance, you could see hills behind the village that were covered in palm trees.
While we were in Kowtukal, we spent most of our time visiting a school in the village. With a couple packs of crayons and sweet treats for the kids, we walked into the schoolhouse and received, quite possibly, the cutest welcome I’ve ever had. The students, who were all aged between 3 and 5 years old, were a little shy at first, but I’d say we got pretty close after a while. That day, the students were learning about fruits, so they were each assigned a page in their coloring books that corresponded with their theme of fruits. Initially, the students I was with took turns saying the names of fruits as they colored them in. After finishing that though, we played a fun little game where I’d position their crayons like dominos, and they’d try to knock them down by throwing their other crayons. Although the game didn’t align completely with their school curriculum, it was so heartwarming to see the kids grinning from ear to ear.
Spending that day in Kowtukal really allowed me to gain more perspective on my life, and allowed me to gain a greater sense of gratitude for everything that I have. In the village, people seemed to be content with whatever they had, whether they had a lot or very little. Each kid seemed so elated to be there in that school, coloring in fruits in their workbooks. As I prepare to go to college next year and embark upon a new chapter in my life, I’m really thankful for the perspective I gained from that day in Kowtukal.
DJ is one of 8 students in Indiaspora’s inaugural HeritageINDIA Program. A unique, immersive, 3-week summer program, this initiative gives high school students of Indian descent the opportunity to connect to their ancestral homeland. Students experience and engage with India’s rich and diverse cultural history by completing hands-on projects, participating in stimulating discussions, and building friendships with a cohort that will share in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. With the exciting theme of India’s Riches: History, Culture, Diversity, & Democracy, students visit three areas of India that are geographically and culturally diverse, yet all very much represent India: New Delhi, Gujarat, and Kerala.