So I’m Sitting in the Poorest Orphanage in India and It Occurs to Me …

First, a little background: I’ve got 22 American high school kids with me for 12 days (Dec. 26–Jan. 7), all of us living in an orphanage in India. Three ideas are assailing me the entire time:

1. The sense of entitlement may be the biggest single threat to the American teenager. Make no mistake, I’ve got 22 of the best American teenagers I know with me. But they are a product of a society that spends billions of dollars creating a mindset of materialism (i.e., that they need the latest “stuff” to be happy). Contrast that with a group of Indian kids who are THRILLED that we are there and whose only worldly possessions are two sets of clothes, perhaps a pair of shoes, and nothing else by American standards.


It raises the question: What do we really need to be happy? It depends on our perspective.


 2.    America is the noisiest place on earth. With more than 10 percent of the world’s population residing in India, the car horns are enough to drive you insane. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Consider the noise our kids have to filter through on a daily basis: the media, Internet, friends, peer pressure, Facebook, outside sports/activities … the list goes on and on. 


Where are the quiet moments in our kids’ lives where they can just be still? This is where parents gain the opportunity to speak into the lives of their children without competing for their attention.


3.    My group of 22 kids is the object of what God is doing. Are we on a mission trip? Yes. Did we make a difference? Yes. However, the effect of taking 22 American teenagers from your typical American suburban community and placing them in one of the poorest places on earth is often life changing. You don’t have to travel to an orphanage in India (although I’d love to take your high school kid with me next time), but the question becomes:


How real is the world your child lives in, and what benefits would come from taking them out of their routine comfort zone?


Think about it …


Image courtesy of Hannah Norris

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→