India offers pursuit of international citizenship

Their voices wander off in conversation, barely aware of the other people who sit around them listening. They reminiscence about their past travels and smiles spread across both their faces as they speculate the near future. The future that holds an exciting and exhilarating trip to India for the both of them.

“I’m fascinated about their culture,” junior Daniel Parecki says as he tries to relate his anticipation of the trip. “The more I hear about it the more I want to go. It seems like a well knit community and their culture is so much different than ours.”

Parecki, along with freshman, Casey Krolczyk will journey to Dharamsala, India this summer for about two months to research the difference in the treatment of tuberculosis in government and non-governmental hospital and clinics.

The region where the two will travel has a large Tibetan refugee population due to the people of Tibet’s exile from their own country.  The area has a high occurrence of tuberculosis and Parecki claims it’s the highest cause of death.

But while the research is the purpose of the entire trip, it definitely doesn’t seem like it’s at the forefront of these two men’s minds.

Krolczyk even admits that he decided to go on the trip just to help Parecki out with anything he’ll need when he is there.

“I didn’t find the trip. The trip found me,” Krolczyk said.

Besides just helping Parecki with his own endeavors, Krolczyk says he’s interested in learning what a community and government in exile looks like.

The two are obviously looking to do two completely different things with their trip. Yet they seem to both have a sense that something bigger will happen in India than just exploring their interests.

“I think the main reason I want to go there is for cultural reasons.  I want to immerse myself in the culture—the cultural experience,” Parecki said.

Krolczyk added, “I’m interested in exploring myself and my connection to God.  [But] the underlying theme I’m looking for is a wild ride, a big adventure.  The more twists and turns, the better.”

Even though they admit the spontaneous nature they want to trip to take, they will not go completely unprepared. The two confess that they have done their research, even talking with a friend from India who has given them information on cultural norms.

In addition to the research on India itself, the two will use the knowledge they have gained from past traveling experience to guide them in this new and exhilarating journey.

“My experience is you’ll eventually get [wherever you’re headed] so there’s no need to stress. Keep your wallet in your front pocket and just be wary of people approaching you. Never look like you’re lost, look forward with confidence,” Krolczyk said, relating the lessons he has taken from his past experiences. “There are little tricks to minimize risks,” he added.

As the two begin to ramble into anecdotes about the crazy situations they have had while on their many adventurous travels, it becomes clear that they have definitely have some experiences that will help them in a foreign country.

Krolczyk says that he studied abroad in Switzerland his junior year of high school and some days would go to the train station at 5 a.m., take the first train out and just explore the country for the day.

“If you go unprepared,” Krolczyk said, “you can just follow whims and guesses.  Don’t see what you expected to see, but see what you didn’t expect to see.”

Parecki relates a similar story but admits that his “whims and guesses” terrified him.  When in Nicaragua, Parecki says he tried to take a bus to the Costa Rican airport but when the bus arrived, he was in an unknown town where nobody spoke English.

“I was at a loss for what to do,” he said. “I asked around and got a cab with three other Costa Ricans.  I got there eventually but it was scary.”

From the differing perspectives of the two, it seems that they have an interesting dynamic. With Parecki unsure and nervous about their plans still, Krolczyk seems more than eager to take advantage of the inevitable spontaneity that will arise in their travels.

Pareki admits that he’s terrified at being by himself in a foreign country for two months. But Krolczyk reassures him, saying, “More than anything, I’m good at being calm, cool, and collected in any scenario. If I got to choose we would have no plans and go from there.”

From the stories they tell about past experiences and the excitement with which they speak of this trip, it seems that this journey has to do with something much bigger than just academics or research.

“I value the pursuit of becoming an international citizen,” Krolczyk said. “[I take] the best of each culture and make it apart of myself. This is an entirely different part of the world with totally different values. A month is not very long but I think if I can pull out valuable cultural insights and make them who I am, that can really improve the kind of person I can become.”

Parecki said something similar, pointing to his dream of becoming a doctor in a poignant way.  “I think my focus on my future will change. Once I see this country with terrible health issues I’ll want to do more about it.  My horizons will be expanded. I’ll know so much more about the world and deal with things so much better.”