India 2016: Day 7

In a world full of difference and incongruence, we must not become lost in translation. Today marks the end of day 7 and the commencement of an entire week in a new reality. Our days have been filled with monumental moments of impact, and this one was no exception. As I reflect on today and our journey thus far, the word that comes to mind is translation.

From our first day of the trip and each day here after, we have been immersed in constant translation. Pastor Susanta’s Hindi translation of Nathan’s message at the pastors conference this morning. Translating the importance and impact of developing these business students into whole leaders for the whole world. Translating cultural values or norms about what it means to be a Christian in different parts of the world.  Our week has been filled with these moments.

Initially, I was held in the mental restraint that the process of translating was only a burden for which we had to overcome, in order to connect on the most basic level. It was a barrier to understanding, communicating, and connecting. It prevented us from really coming to know each other. This thought was shattered this morning.  A member of our team called out to over 100 pastors living in world full of challenge and persecution. “My prayer for you is for the right hand to learn what the left hand is doing.” At that moment, my perspective transformed. Translating a message from one people to another was not just the passing of information from one side to the other. Rather it was bringing the left hand together with the right hand in a union of unity and understanding. Not only so they could know one another, but so they could become one.

Instead of focusing on barriers and problems, we must tap into our universal language. Love. We must embrace our similarities and remember those things that make us human. The power of a hug to a lonely child. The impact of a smile to an individual forced to the outskirts of society. The recognition of hard work and dedication to a seemingly impossible goal. Walls built with anger, anxiety, hate, and distrust will crumble at the force of love. A language that never gets lost in translation.

Our initial notions and perceptions of India have been forever altered by our countless experiences in translation over the past seven days. Stories have been shared. Friends have been made. Tears have been shed. Barriers have been broken. Bonds have been formed. Our lives are forever changed.

-Stephanie Osterdahl, 3rd Year PhD Student

(Photo Credit: Megan Kirchgasler)


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