India(napolis) – The Place(s) I Call Home

The International Center changed my life. Now you may be thinking “Hey c’mon, it’s just an internship,” but no matter how exaggerated these words may seem, the statement stands unequivocally true. The International Center changed my life. But I’m not saying this from the viewpoint of an intern (however great this internship may be.) I am speaking from the viewpoint of someone whose entire life is based off of The International Center’s involvement in it. Now may be a good time for some backstory.

Rhea’s birthday in India

When I was just 2 years old, I moved from the bustling city of Mumbai, India to a place as foreign and exotic as space; Indianapolis, Indiana. Along with my mother, father, and older sister, I hopped on a plane and 24 hours later, was dropped into the quaint world of Indiana. However what cushioned the blow was the fact that The International Center was right there to catch us. From the very start, right at the terminal, The International Center’s relocation services sent a member to guide us through the very beginning of the journey of our new lives. My father’s company, Dow AgroSciences, generously gave us what we needed to get comfortably started in a whole new world. With the goal of making Indianapolis not just a place to live, but a true home, The Center took another step and gave us things that we needed to begin our lives like tours of the city and familiar faces we felt comfortable with. What was such a large, uncharted territory, quickly became familiar, and soon enough that familiarity led to Indianapolis shifting from being just a city to being a home. We had our favorite restaurants, our go-to grocery store, and even quickly developed a Friday night Blockbuster ritual.

Our original plan to move back

Rhea’s (left) first Halloween

to India in 3-years was soon replaced with our plans to build a life in this wonderful city that was welcoming due to The International Center’s hospitality and constant kindness towards my family. We soon moved to Carmel, just north of Indianapolis, and we knew that for the foreseeable future, we had found a place that would allow us to grow with it. Our relationship with The International Center only expanded over the years, as we annually attended many of the events The Center funds to encourage diversity and became invested in the well-structured Indian community of Indianapolis. My dad even served on the Board for The Center nearly 10 years after our move here in 1999, and fast-forward a quick 16 years from our move, and there you have me, serving as an intern at the same organization that gave me more help than I ever could fathom.

In my story, I mention the notion of turning a “house into a home.” This simple phrase carries an unimaginable amount of depth to it. A house by definition is “a building for human habitation;” so essentially some plaster, walls and doors. Nothing too special. However a home is a completely different ball game; home is where you are most comfortable with yourself and your surroundings. You come in and go through a classic routine, whether it be kicking your shoes off in a corner, getting attacked by an over-joyed pet, or heading straight towards the fridge, your home and routine grow with familiarity and comfort. The idea of creating a home out of a house is truly incredible when you think about it; just some plaster, walls and doors turn into your safe haven. And the best part is? With a little time and good company, a home can truly be anywhere. This idea is what sets The International Center’s relocation services apart from just another relocation service. They worked tirelessly to help my family, and have continued to assist hundreds of families from around the world, to make Indiana a place that we can all be proud to call home. Whenever I go back to India to visit, I cannot help but feel pride towards my home there, but thanks to The International Center’s help at the very beginning of our journey, I have an equally amazing one to come back to.

Rhea (right), in India, pondering on what life has in store for her

By Rhea Gajaria, Development Intern