As the semester comes to a close, I am experiencing mixed emotions. This is the longest I’ve been away from home since I graduated from Berklee over two years ago. Lately I have missed my family and Canadian friends dearly. Delhi is still in some ways an unfamiliar environment in which I believe I may never feel fully comfortable.
However, another part of me is dreading the morning of August 17th when I leave for a week in Berlin before returning to Toronto. The faculty and students at GMI have welcomed me into their tight-knit community. I am excited to go to work every morning as the people that surround me are a constant source of inspiration and laughter. I also feel a great sense of purpose and importance as an educator. In a country where it is difficult to be exposed to traditional jazz, I feel that my experience and knowledge are of great value to the next generation of musicians. My students have so much talent and drive. I am grateful to have contributed to the development of their skills through deepening their understanding of Western musical language. I spent four years of college dedicating myself to studying and practicing my craft and I will never stop learning. But my time at GMI has been my first opportunity to pass on what my professors and peers at Berklee gave to me. The process of teaching the material has deepened my own comprehension of the subject matter.
And so herein lies my emotional tug of war. I long for the familiarity of home while I fear missing the family I have become a part of in New Delhi. This conflict has caused me moments of sadness and anxiety. But out of these thoughts I have found a more positive viewpoint on my predicament. I have realized how fortunate I am to feel accepted and purposeful on both sides of the globe. Who knew that a spoiled, Jewish, Canadian boy could have an impact in such drastically different places? This has taught me of the interconnectedness of our world. We often like to divide people into categories of racial, cultural or geographical background to find a “clearer” picture of the planet. As we can observe in the violence currently plaguing countries in all corners of the Earth, these categorizations cause hatred and confusion. They also make us feel lost in how we can put an end to these disputes as we believe we cannot relate to these “foreign” issues. As I have become closer with my colleagues, pupils and friends in Delhi I have learned that we are not as different as we think. We have common values, goals, musical tastes and senses of humour. Even when we disagree with one another, we can find common ground and are willing to understand each other. Most importantly, we are willing to work collectively.
I do not believe my experience this summer has made me a different person. I will always feel more at home in Cedarvale then in South Extension II. I still enjoy watching basketball more than badminton. I still like bagels with cold cuts more than palak paneer. But what has changed is my perspective on the role I can assume in this world. As I have learned of the similarities and common aspirations between me and my Indian contemporaries, I have come to realize the impact that we can make together.