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Day Five: Building Connections

As our Ekal trip winds to a close, I continue to consider all of the connections I made here: connections of friendship with the children and locals, especially the women. Connections of understanding based on the language study. Cultural connections in our art and writing projects. Connections between my understanding of change, and the progress I've seen in Jharkhand.

I've built many connections over the past weeks, and I hope to continue applying what I've learned here to my projects, my academics, and hopefully, one day, my career.

9:00 a.m. Ekal on Wheels

In the morning, we visited a unit of Ekal on Wheels, a revolutionary program that uses traveling buses to teach villagers about digital literacy. Each cozy bus is equipped with over a dozen computers, seats, and teacher, journeying between villages in order to empower citizens of the 21st century.

12:00 p.m. Painting the Mural

The art team started painting again around noon, but we had to stop when bursts of rain poured down on the wall we were painting. It was a nail-biting fifteen minutes, but luckily, our half-finished mural survived the test of nature. I take this as a hopeful sign that our mural will continue to brighten the wall for a very long time.

Once more, we were watched by an enthusiastic crowd of over thirty local boys, who were quite eager to help in any way they could--mixing water, finding brushes. As we painted, the mural continued to bloom to life, even more vivid in real life than I had imagined in my head.

5:00 p.m. Signing Off

With the mural finished at last, the artists signed our names, much to the joy of the watching crowd. They flocked around to help us celebrate the new mural with boxes of toffees and chocolate.

Out of all the experiences I've had in Jharkhand, the mural will be a memory I carry forever. It's not so much an experience as it is a journey--from thought to sketch to painting, it was pretty amazing for us to bring our shared vision to life. I hope that's what the kids remember when they pass by that wall each day.

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