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Speaking to students in India

Well, I have left Nairobi and I am now in India for 6 months, travelling with my family! For more on our Indian travelling adventures, take a look at our website and blog, familygappers.com. We even have a vlog which you can subscribe to on youtube if you prefer the moving picture version.

Right now, we are staying in a small house beside a paddy field in Udupi, a town in Karnataka, Southern India. It is the house where my wonderful writing friend, Renita D’Silva, grew up and her parents still live here. I love this about travelling: the threads that link people globally. About a year ago, I mentioned to Renita that we’d be travelling in India. Stay with my parents, she said! And here we are.

Today and yesterday my husband and I spoke at the local postgraduate college about our careers, followed by Q & A sessions. The truth is, I always get quite nervous about speaking in front of people but actually, once I’m up there and I realise very quickly that I’m talking about something I have a genuine and natural passion for, it’s absolutely fine. I spoke about keeping the dream we have as children alive; resilience in the face of rejection and reading outside of our comfort zones.

I was also asked some really good questions today, such as how my travels in India have informed my fiction writing; which Indian writers and poets I admire; whether there is anything truly original that can still be written and what I both love and loathe about this country. It’s interesting being put on the spot like that – almost stepping out of myself and listening to the thoughts that kick in.

Speaking to these students the past couple of days, I am reminded how extraordinarily privileged I have been in terms of education and post-educational opportunities. The principle of the college told us afterwards that despite a number of the students being extremely bright, there aren’t many job options for them once they leave. India is the most populated nation on the planet and so many young people are fighting for few positions. He said that many become disheartened and stay in the village, farming. What’s the answer? I don’t know, truly.

But dreaming is not the preserve of the wealthy, and young people globally must be encouraged to aspire and think big. Success stories abound, and we need to share more of these than ever…which makes me think, there must be a wealth of Indian writers who have had humble beginnings and carved paths to success through stories, literature, poetry or writing. Can you share those you know with me in the comments?

Thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed this post, complement it with Fighting back against Kenya’s alleged ‘non-reading’ culture

and How do we create a new narrative of hope?

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