SkillCorps India is back in action and just finished up our first day at SOREM. I wish I had the words to describe everything I’m feeling right now. I am so overcome with gratitude and awe for the beauty of this place and these people. I can’t stop thinking about how much SOREM has grown in the year that I have been coming here.

Before we got to Chandigarh, we spent some time in Delhi and Agra, shopping, sightseeing, and visiting the Taj Mahal. As part of our adventures, we got an opportunity to visit a place where they taught us about how Kashmir carpets are made. It was absolutely amazing to learn about. In Kashmir, carpets are still made by hand and that’s how families make their livelihood. Many families have a huge, completely-hand operated loom in their homes. Before each carpet is woven, it is designed by a carpet to designer, with each design holding a unique and special meaning designed to bless the individual who will one day buy it. The carpet designer then transcribes the design into a numerical pattern, that looks like this:

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The pattern is given to the family, and they follow the numbers that indicate each color of thread. They tie the colored knots by hand onto the strands of the rug, one at a time, as many as 2400 PER SQUARE INCH. A 5 ft by 7 ft carpet takes one family about 18 months to complete. The most remarkable thing about the process is that the families are only given the numerical pattern by the designer. They have no idea what the design looks like, of what the ultimate carpet will be. They simply follow the numbers, knot by knot, in faith that the carpet will be a masterpiece when it’s finished. They only are able to see the full beauty and meaning of the carpet once it’s completed, and then they have a huge celebration.

From this:

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To this:

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I think about what it must be like to work this hard on something, for so much time, without knowing what it’s really going to look like. Each carpet is unique, and no two are exactly the same. With our partners, it’s like this. Each SkillCorps trip, we tie a couple thousand knots. We pick the colors according to the overall “plan” that is designed for us by our partners. We don’t always know what role we’re playing in the overall masterpiece. But each partnership is a masterpiece, with its own unique design and meaning. Today, when we walked into the classrooms and saw the amazing progress that the teachers have made since the last time we were here, it was like seeing another row added to the carpet. Bit by bit, I am grateful and proud to be part of such an amazing masterpiece.

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