Reflections after Four Months in India

This piece was just sent to us in Brazil, by Ryan Kretch, our Programme Manager in India. Ryan’s been with us since the start of the year, and has played a key role in the development of _SocialStarters in India in 2015. Here he shares with us an emotional update now that silence is echoing throughout the walls, as he prepares to embark on his next adventure. 

11393119_1033922429954100_1434938735138965875_nThe last of the second cohort of our Social Enterprise Consultants have trickled out of our home in Hyderabad, having left behind an eerie silence – typically filled with good conversations and endless laughs.

I am standing alone in the empty Ashiyana Apartments in Banjara Hills, after managing two programmes for _SocialStarters. I am getting ready to reward myself with some travels throughout India, and a 10-day vipassana meditation course. Or maybe that’s punishment 🙂

I can’t help but feel grief, a rare emotion I experience only with the loss of someone. But somehow it has floated into apartment 101 and has temporarily halted my ability to pack. I’ve lost my “tribe” in a matter of 24 hours, and it is hitting me hard in the form of light tears and necessary emotional support from family back home. Prior to this sorrowful moment though, I have experienced more in the span of two 6-week programmes with _SocialStarters than could ever have occurred in a few years doing the conventional lifestyle. I can spend days recalling every positive aspect of my time in India with SS, but I’ll just write down a few. The rest you can fill in yourselves when you do your six-weeks experience:

  • I’ve collaborated with passionate social entrepreneurs and helped make their ideas a reality.  Most recently, I worked with Sattva, a vocational training center committed to cultivating financially independent autistic young adults. The founder’s devotion to this project combined with a variety of skills by my fellow “dream team” of consultants, helped us to brand, crowd-fund and market Sattva in time for its opening in July.

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  • I’ve re-discovered what pure hedonism entails on weekend trips motorbiking around Hampi and lounging in Goa. I’ve conquered monotony. With past desk jobs, I have fleeting thoughts throughout the day of my potential escape route. Between managing the program, bootcamp, and consulting for early-stage startups, ‘working’ is not really working anymore. There is no need to waste valuable time on work that I hate.

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  • I’ve “holied” in Jaipur.

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  • I’ve gained confidence. From running _SocialStarters’ Bootcamp, to delivering workshops with our client, UnLtd’s investees [incubated social entrepreneurs], I have more self-assurance than I have ever had before. I am no longer afraid of what my next steps may be towards job and personal satisfaction and the uncertainties of where life will take me.

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  • I’ve learned the essentials of Indian cooking and Bollywood dancing. I’ll make you a mean Palak Paneer while dancing to “Baby Doll”

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  • I’ve learned patience. With every new country, there are inefficiencies. While they may evoke anger at the time, they create a story to laugh about later on and to tell to your grandkids.

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  • Most importantly, I’ve found my tribe. There are people out there, like me, who are passionate about social issues, empathetic, looking to learn social entrepreneurship, and are startlingly ambitious. Week after week, I got to spend time with each consultant both individually and in groups, and I have gained so much from each of them. SocialStarters has brought that group together for me.

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So now you can probably understand where my grief is coming from as this unmatched experience wraps up. It is only temporary though. My four months in India will be a happy nostalgic moment throughout my life, and more importantly will guide me in most of my future career-related decisions. I cannot convey any further the positive impact that taking a risk and coming out to _SocialStarters for six weeks will have on you. If you haven’t done it yet, just apply and give it a go 🙂 — _SocialStarters still have places available for the following programmes in India, Sri Lanka, Brazil & Kenya. Don’t delay, places tend to fill 6 months in advance so enquire now if you’re interested:  Sri Lanka – 4th July (6 weeks) || India – 22nd August (6 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 5th September (6 & 2 weeks) || India – 24th October (6 & 2 weeks) || Brazil – 31st October (6 & 2 weeks) || India – 31st January (6 & 2 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 13th February (6 & 2 Weeks) || Brazil – Feb/March TBC (6 & 2 weeks). With more dates soon to be published for April/May 2016 in Kenya & Sri Lanka. To apply, send your email with a cover note to info@socialstarters.org and clearly state in the subject heading which programme and what date you are applying for. If successful, you will invited to a Skype interview with one of the team! 

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