I am only a couple of days away from getting on a plane and flying 14
1/2 hours non-stop to Delhi. I am excited, scared, and a little apprehensive that I may say the wrong thing and start an international incident. Anyone who knows me says it's a definite possibility. But
seriously, I'm not sure how a formerly homeless African-American woman lawyer will find her place in this ancient culture.
I have been selected as a 2012 USA Eisenhower Fellow to India and New
Zealand where I will be traveling for several weeks. My fellowship
goal is to look at the delivery of services to the homeless and those
living in poverty with an emphasis on women and children. I will be
working with homeless women and children and studying successful
policies including the use of micro lending to rural woman. During my
fellowship I will also be speaking about my personal experience of
homelessness as a child and how I used education to achieve my dream of
being an attorney.
I chose India because I was interested in seeing how the growing
middle class was impacting the opportunities being given to those still
In a place where the circumstances of your birth can determine the
opportunities you're given, I wonder if they will understand and
respect my journey from homeless to lawyer or if they will view me as I
once was and not who I am now.
In a country that celebrates achievement, I hope that they will
understand the failure and subsequent triumph that I experienced when I
failed out of college and lost my scholarship, but went back to school
at night, finished my degree and went on to law school. All while
performing what would be considered domestic work in order to pay my
own way through school.
The Indian response so far to my visit has been overwhelmingly
positive. I have been asked to speak at several events and many
charities have agreed to show me their work and give me an opportunity
to meet and speak with those they serve.
The conclusion that I have come to is that no matter where you come
from or how different our cultures may seem, we all want the same things
out of life. To be happy, have a good job where you are paid a livable
wage and treated with respect. We share the same dream for our children
to have unlimited opportunities and for each of us to be able to
control our own destiny.
I hope you will follow me on my journey to India during the next few
Look out India because here I come and I can't wait.