You and your team are extraordinary! Since my return, I have had many friends asking me if I would go back to India … and I say an enthusiastic YES to each of them!
Please accept my personal thanks for making my experience as a delegation leader a pleasure. I know you had to handle many unexpected circumstances and you did it with grace, humor and professionalism.
The visits you planned were a gift to each one of us. The experiences we had and the memories those experiences created are forever etched on our memories. The miraculous work happening every day in India inspired each of us to a new understanding of what it means to live as productive members of our global civil society.
I want to send a personal letter to each location we visited. In some cases, I did not receive the business card of the most senior person at the visit. I have tried my best to assemble a list and the senior most people I will write to. I would be grateful if you would double check my list and make any corrections needed so I can prepare and email my letters. My list is attached.
You are a true gift to your profession!
With only good wishes
Home now for 36 hours, I am still basking in the glow of the most amazing adventure that was our trip to India. And I have you to thank you for such an incredible experience.
To say that you went "above and beyond" would be the world's biggest understatement. You met and exceeded our every need and desire, and that was no small task.
Thank you, Balu. Your business acumen is now legend, but it is your heartfelt dedication to stellar and highly personalized service that I will remember always.
All my very, very best,
Our heads are full of India still, along with its wonderful sights, smells and people. It was an unforgettable trip, and we appreciate all that you and your staff did for us!
I know that we had spoken to you about visiting Vietnam, and I wanted to see if you have a sample itinerary that you suggest to families. We would be traveling with our two boys aged 13 and 14.
I picked India for the delegation that I was to lead because no one I knew of had visited programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in India before. I wanted very much start an exchange with people in India.
I admit that I was somewhat nervous about how the program would turn out because there have been so few contacts between India and the United States intellectual and developmental disabilities service communities. You acted as a partner from the very start, listening to the types and philosophies of services I wanted the delegation to visit, and carefully locating programs that would show us the spectrum of services in India. You not only located services, but also created the atmosphere for a dialogue even before we arrived.
When we were in India, you and your team did an amazing job of not only helping everyone in the group understand but also feel comfortable in the culture of a country very different from the United States and Canada. We felt treated as if we were valued family members, with all the kindness and help that would be given to important guests.
Every single person in your organization made us feel special, as if each and every one of us were the only people who mattered to all of you when you were with us. This started for those of us who went to Mumbai with Sajid, who did a wonderful job of asking what we wanted and then going out of his way to meet our requests, and concluded when we were picked up at the Delhi domestic airport to be driven to the international airport when we arrived from Varanasi to fly home. It is just that everyone in Worldwide Adventures acted as if we were so welcome when we were with them.
There was an incredible level of kindness from each of the people who are part of Worldwide Adventures. In another instance, the driver's helper (whose name I cannot spell) shared a newspaper with a photo of the delegation at the Poddar School, which was such a nice gesture. In addition, I wanted to mention something that happened in the start of ourtrip in India. The guide in Mumbai, Jeroo, when everyone was looking at the laundry, showed wonderful kindness and respect for a boy who was begging, giving him money to buy bananas for two older people who were begging (giving him a chance to help others) and then money for bananas for himself. And she did this quietly on the side while everyone was busy watching laundry being cleaned; it showed me that I could be polite and nice to people begging and selling items with great fervor in a way that was very different from what all the guidebooks recommended. Obviously, this all says a tremendous amount about you because you are the person who administers the organization and hires the staff.
All in all it was a wonderful trip. I thank you so much for making this true.
Joanna - President - AAIDD
Wow this is truly amazing Balu – I know for sure we will be sharing similar stories from our students in the future. Congratulations – you are making a difference in so many ways, it is my deepest honor to have a friend and business colleague like you!
Now that the dust has settled, I just wanted to write to thank you again SO MUCH for taking such wonderful care of us on this trip. It was great to finally meet you (and Malu!) and to see Manoj again. You, Manoj, Shiv, Priti, Hajji, and Sandeep were so incredible to us. No detail was overlooked, and we're all truly so grateful.
Thank you also for adding in the trips to Deepalaya and to the Kheda School in Nimaj. Both were moving experiences for all of us. It was amazing to see what wonderful work is being done in both places with limited resources.
I mentioned at our last meeting that our students were inspired and wanted to do something to continue to build relationships with Deepalaya and Kheda. Well, they've been true to their word. In fact, I've never seen students so inspired.
They've started a club called Namaste, elected officials, and, if possible, would like to establish an email pen pal relationship with the students at Deepalaya (using their Women's Empowerment Center?) to continue to get to know each other.
The students have also gotten a real sense of perspective from the trip and have been moved to do what they can monetarily here in our privileged environment to help. At the end of our journey, they all donated their extra rupees to create seed money for Namaste ($305!). Using some of that money, they then made bracelets in the colors of the Tiranga saying "Asha" on them and have been selling them around the community here. Two of our seventh grade girls, Ella and Natalie, are having their Bat Mitzvah Jewish rite of passage ceremonies upon turning 13 and are asking guests to donate to Deepalaya. And at our school's annual outdoor spring festival, Mayfair, the students have volunteered to table to sell bracelets and items they bought in India.
We'd like to use that money to raise money for Deepalaya and for shoes and backpacks for the students at Kheda. In addition, Shiv mentioned that there was a village near him in which the students had to walk a kilometer and a half just to get water. We'd like to build them one.
Our school year ends in June, but the club will continue on into the future and should only gather strength as we write a constitution for officers' responsibilities and push forward (and visit again in two years and on into the future as well).
Thanks again so much for everything. Please send our warm regards and thanks on to Manoj, Sandy, and everyone else there!
With deep gratitude,
Mark (and Barbara, Sam, and all of the students of Namaste!)
Our experience with you in Jaipur was definitely one of the most memorable highlights of our trip.
We were so impressed and so very appreciative of your many efforts to ensure our safety, our comfort, our pleasure and that our every desire would be met. (I so much enjoyed our customized horseback ride on the Marwaris and the impromptu Jeep tour you so quickly arranged)
We felt we learned a great deal about India's culture and traditions through our conversations with you...and thank you for your patience and openness in answering the endless questions we posed.
You have left us with a very positive view of India and its people.
Most of all, as a representative of Worldwide Travel, you embody the very characteristics which will ensure client loyalty, (particularly our own): Professionalism, courtesy, attention to detail and a passion for your work....
Please keep in touch and let us know of any upcoming special tours you might be leading....we just may sign up!
Our Very Best Wishes to You,
Thank you again for a wonderful adventure together in India. May you have a wonderful Holiday Season in the company of your loved ones.
University of Colorado Distinguished Professor
School of Public Affairs, UCCS
Greetings from Boston. It is hard to believe that we are already back into our routines after having such a wonderful time in India.
I don't seem to have Shiv's e-mail address although I am sure he gave it to me. I hope you can share these photos with him as his friend was going to place one in a news article. This was such an amazing experience for us. We feel so blessed to have been in India during this holiday.
Thank you again for making this delegation so meaningful and a tremendous success. I have been in touch with some of the professional facilities and individual occupational therapists/students. Mimi has been in touch with people, too. I certainly now have lots of friends on Facebook, too! I know that we will develop sustainable activities with many of these individuals.
All my best,
Karen Jacobs, Ed.D., OTR/L, CPE, FAOTA
Program Director, Distance Education Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Programs
Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College
Department of Occupational Therapy
635 Commonwealth Avenue-Room 511A
Boston, MA 02215
Thank you for organising a well coordinated program for us in India. I've been on 1 delegation with People to People before; you certainly made this one stand out. "Little" things stand out to make a delegation successful. Your hands on approach and presence at many of the sites were appreciated. You selection of guides, Shiv and the local guides, was excellent - you have attracted a pool of highly skilled and enthusiastic employees. The gift of the CD of presentations at the end of the tour was great for us as professionals. The extra gift to each of us was indicative of the generosity & hospitality we experienced everywhere we went.
Thank you for making a very worthwhile experience into a wonderful one for us all,
OT Delegation - 2011
Here is the poem. It comes with love and gratitude for a wonderful adventure.
From two different worlds,
We have come together.
I know little of your life.
You know little of mine.
But for a moment, we connect,
Share this space, this time,
Hold hands, walk in step.
I look in your eyes, you in mine,
And differences dissolve.
Though the time to leave has come,
Something beside remains.
The memory of life lived intensely,
Knowledge of our common humanity.
We can remember what it was like
To walk together, love and part.
I hope you have a long and happy life.
South India trip - 2011