written by: Daniel Radwan, Canisius College ’13
It took a trip to the other side of the world for me to realize that sometimes, solidarity just means being there. Our team spent a little more than a week in rural Tamil Nadu, in the southern part of India. Much of our time was spent at Loyola Higher Secondary School where we taught for one day, but much of our time on campus was spent with Dalit, or “untouchable,” children.
During the day we played soccer, basketball and tag for hours at a time under the hot midday sun. We sang, danced, jumped rope, did magic and crazy variations of “patty cake” that I still cannot master when we couldn’t bear the heat anymore.
During the evenings we ventured into nearby villages that many of the children we played with call home. Our tours with Father Joe Mike or one of the Brothers were simple walks through the villages; some of us talked with villagers, others observed everything around us, while others still were pulled away from the group unexpectedly to visit homes of the people we just met.
They were complete strangers, all of them, but they took us and treated us like family. My new friend, Arun, couldn’t wait to introduce me to his mother and grandmother, as well as the various animals the family owned and the massive tomato garden behind his home.
Our time in each village (and India) was short, too short if you asked anybody on our team, but the impact it made on our lives is undeniable. At the end of the day, solidarity doesn’t have to mean teaching a perfect English lessons or building a house, school, or a dispensary with and for the people. Solidarity means being a person, being human and it means acknowledging and respecting the dignity of all persons.
I never imagined that “doing small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa said, would be as small as smiling, saying hello or giving a hug to a stranger. Solidarity means finding the simplest love in your heart and using it.