"Why not be utterly changed into fire?"

I had the honor this past week to attend and speak at Operation Smile's International Student Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. I was really nervous going into it, as it has been a long time since I have done any sort of public speaking, but my nerves started to fade away as the conference began! My friend and coworker Deb (who took most of the amazing pictures this past year) just moved back to D.C. area after having finished a year out here in Guwahati. I was so happy to get to spend the week with her, to share all of our India/USA comparisons and to have someone supporting me who has helped with the kids since just after this projects inception.

I headed to Georgetown University for the conference on Sunday evening, full of nerves but was met with an excitement and energy that floored me! There were students I had never met that have fundraised for Asha Guwahati/Pratyasha Foundation over the last year, who love these kids despite never having met them. I was so humbled to meet person after person that has heard of the project already and wanted to hear more. Though I knew it is an amazing group of students from all over the world that attend the conference, I just wasn't prepared for how specifically passionate some of them would be for the children of Lakhtokia. The whole week felt a little like being in a dream. It was an out of body experience, stepping out of the day to day service and being able to see how much this idea of one meal to one child, one day per week has really impacted people around the world. My hope is that from this conference at least one student feels empowered to start something in their community, to realize that change can originate from seemingly tiny acts.

Add onto all of that their excitement for Operation Smile, listening to students share their mission stories, watching fundraising activities and team building exercises and I don't know how anyone could have walked away without being ignited! It was such an amazing week filled with old and new friends, many of which will meet again around the world through Operation Smile! As usual, time passed too quickly and already I am back in Guwahati. I was reunited with the children yesterday morning; their shrieks of excitement, endless hugs and ear to ear smiles made for quite a great start back here!

 Photo by Marc Ascher for Operation Smile

Photo by Marc Ascher for Operation Smile


  1. Such a pleasure to meet you and hear your inspiring story! You are truly changing the lives of these children and Guwahati itself and I hope to see you soon in India! xx

    1. One of my favorite moments of the whole conference was hearing you share your dandelion wish during your breakout session. It seems like you have greatly affected that little girl's life in Orissa and I am wishing right along side you that your paths will cross again one day!

  2. That's so cool Kristin!! You just keep killin' it! :)