Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rae Clauser

As we sat around the breakfast table this morning, we talked about how we were feeling with this being our last day of service. Using “last day of service” isn’t actually accurate, as today is simply the end of the India Team 63 project. I am very sure that all nine members of the team will find themselves on another Global Volunteer project somewhere in the world. Although eight of us were “newbies” on our first Global Volunteer journey, Larry’s time in India was his third project, having previously volunteered in Ghana and the Cooke Islands.

Having received an invitation from Sister Emily to attend mass, Larry and Rae left breakfast early to be there on time. This special mass is held for the 400 students and teachers at St. Josephs School and is held the first Friday of each month. They were asked to participate in the processional and Father Paul thanked them for their service at the school. Sister Emily asked Rae to go into Larry’s 1st grade class that day to help the students complete the paper plate clocks that Rae made to help teach the kids how to tell time. Unfortunately Rae got her schedule mixed up and went to the 1st grade in the wrong period so she just did her clock thing and Larry had to take his 1st graders later in the day. Sorry Larry! A tour of the convent was given by the Sister before Larry and Rae left for the day.

After spending three weeks at Assisi Illum helping to care for five babies and teaching 12 small children, Anne expressed how she has gained a new empathy for mothers and sees how mothering is the toughest job in the world. How do they do it everyday, sometimes dealing with wild little ones! Thank you to all the mothers.

Marge had a wonderful morning at Grace School. The kids were all very excited and were singing and cheering. Marge wrote and directed a little puppet show titled “Fish School” for some of her students to act out. These little performers also took care of their own PR and marketing as they were telling many of the other classes that they had to come and see them in the play. They received a curtain call and performed it a second time as the other teachers heard about it and brought their classes to the premier event. Marge tried her new word “kellu” which is Tamil for “listen” but the students were too excited about the day’s activities to pay any attention to it! During the afternoon class, the kids set up the puppet show on their own and did another performance….one of many future ones.

Peter and Helen continued their hard work of painting the Study Hall at SEAMS. When we all go to SEAMS at night to spend time with the children it is so obvious what a fresh coat of paint, lots of sweat, labor and love will do to the spirit of a place. We would all like to be able to see SEAMS when it is completed with the help of future Global Volunteer teams as they add some much needed rooms and give them new toilet facilities.

We all decided to walk to SEAMS on Friday night so we could get our last flavor of the streets of Porur. Team 64 from Minnesota joined us for our final night there. The kids merrily greeted us all dressed up in new clothes, freshly combed hair and bight white smile… those same smiles that caught our hearts on the first night we met them. They entertained us with their own little Kollywood production which included Indian folk songs, group singing and drums. Both teams were then presented with a handwritten thank you notes including the names of all the children, after which the kids each shook our hands and thanking us for our help and love. I wonder how many times we have thanked someone for their love. What a nice thought to leave our final visit with the kids at SEAMS.

Earlier in the day Peter graciously shared with me some of his thoughts and feelings about his experience in India that we’d like to share with all of you. During his last three weeks, he has had an extraordinary, worthwhile adventure. This is a place filled with dust, squalor and such much unwanted noise, but it is these charming idiosyncrasies that make India so special. He feels very fortunate to have met so many Indian people, ranging in age from 3 months to 96 years.

It is the people have made this trip for all of us. Our fellow team members who have shown never failing support. Stephen and Sheeba who have not only served as excellent hosts but also made us all feel part of their family. The people in the community we have worked alongside for their patience and open-mindedness; and finally all the children we have served who have shown us so much love and have given so much more than we could possibly have given to them.

Quote for the day

It takes a little courage
And a little self-control
And some grim determination,
If you want to reach the goal.

It takes a deal of striving,
And a firm and stern-set chin,
No matter what the battle,
If you really want to win.

There’s no easy path to glory,
There’s no rosy road to fame.
Life, however we may view it,
Is no simple parlor game;

But its prizes call for fighting,
For endurance and for grit;
For a rugged disposition
And a don’t-know-when-to quit.

Author unknown

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Anne Daftary

This morning began with pre-breakfast activities. Rae, having had an early morning spa and medical treatment of a hot water and Tiger Balm steam administered by nurse Helen, was writing nursery rhymes on a poster. Margery was cutting out paper fish and taping them to plastic drinking straws in preparation for a puppet show. We were also treated to a short lesson on a notorious bandit during Marjorie’s journal reading. Everyone set out this morning to the usual assignments. We are all well today and ready to go. Auntie Anne was alone today at Assisi Illam as her as her three co-workers from another Global team had a micro finance seminar to attend. She attended six day care children and all five babies, so it was mostly playtime, with each set doing different activities.

Helen and Peter continued painting as SEAMS, but were constantly interrupted by little helping hands. They also had some help from the other volunteer group in the afternoon. Rae has been making paper plate clocks (40 in all) and was disappointed when told clocks were too advanced for kindergarten and would have to go to the first grade class. Guess who is teaching first grade tomorrow….Larry!

Larry had a great day teaching 8th grade which is his forte. He also received a lovely poster made by one of his 4th grade students featuring a lion and four lines of information about the lion written in English.

Margery taught and had rehearsals for the puppet show which will premiere tomorrow. Evening brought an invitation for dinner from the sisters at Assisi Illam which featured a dance performance lead by three and a half year old Sylvia and two year old Sophia. Sister Rose prompted the performance. A dancing lesion may be possible for the Aunties and Uncles tomorrow. Ice cream and cake for desert and then home again to prepare for our last day together as a team.

I think team 63 has had great rapport, and that we have all made great strides toward an understanding of Indian culture. We are all looking forward to re reading the daily journals written during our three weeks together and reliving the fun and not so fun experiences. All in all, it has been a rewarding experience which we will never forget.

Quote for the Day: We become better people if we can touch a hardened soul, bring joy into someone’s life or just be an example for others, instead of hiding behind our silence. Jarvis Jay Masters

Wednesday, March. 5. 2008


The members of Team 63 are somewhat more subdued at guest house meals as our time together in this adventure nears the end. I, for one, don’t like to think about it. We have shared so much, gone the extra mile to get each other through a service program not for the faint-hearted.

My colleague at the Grace School who teaches the Kindergarten told me during our morning break that she was sad Friday was my last day and that she will miss me. She added that I had had an effect on the children which made my time of special significance. I know Friday will be tearful as I hear the last “ma’am’s but I’ll just “soldier on” until the end. I was also heartened by the chorus of “Old MacDonald” I heard from the little ones heading for lunch.

Larry polished up his lesson on American slang for the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. He felt that it went well in the afternoon and immediately followed it up with the now imfamous rope trick we can do in our sleep. He felt he had dazzled their young eyes. The cudos from Sister Imelda on the themes his older students had written on the United States based on his geography lessons was truly the icing on the cake for him.

Peter could report that the renovations on the Study Hall at SEAMS are going well. He and Team 64 members, some local workers, and the older boys applied the first coat of pink to the exterior and brightened the shutters. The boys were a complication he could have done without.

Rae was dragging from the heat when she arrived for lunch after a morning as the disc jockey and karaoke star for the vegetable and nursery rhymes. She said that the speakers had enabled all the kids to join in and that the kindergardeners
sang like the Vienna Choir Boys moving her close to tears. She and I have zeroed in on a new strategy for classroom management thanks to Sheeba. We will employ the Tamil words for “listen” and “sit down” with a loud bang on the desk for good measure. We’re hoping for a stunned response.

Anne’s week improved as all the littlest kids were clothed and no one vomited on her today. She cheerfully reported that all the children participated in “Simon Says” as Viking Jeff led them with his booming voice. If you see her with a bull horn tomorrow, you’ll know why.

At SEAMS it was the tug-o-war challenge nite. The score was 2 – 1 for the SEAMS kids verses the adults 0 – 1 older boys verses the adults and 0 – 1 older boys verses the younger kids who whooped with delight.

We made a hasty change back at the guest house for our weekend visit with Jothi and Chinnappan for a supurb home-cooked meal with Team 64 joining us. Stephen’s parents are such gracious hosts and we have been fortunate to have had this aspect of our GV experience. After dinner, Stephen turned on his favorite TV show to share with us. It is the nightly saga "Sandlewood Forest" based on a true story and India’s answer to “The Fugitive.” According to Peter’s book, Being Indian by Pavan K. Varma, the ‘hero’ Veerappan was a “forest brigand”, ivory poacher, smuggler, murderer, kidnapper, and bomber.
On tonight’s episode, however, he was portrayed as a likeable folk hero, a Robin Hood who gave generously to the less fortunate and always had a large following of local women and children. He stroked his mutton chops for good luck more like a diety than a villain. Yet in real life, during his 36 years on the run, Veerappan killed numerous police officers, gunned down rivals, mutilated their bodies, kidnapped civilians, bombed police stations and buses, and beheaded forest officials. Yet much of the uproar over this mayhem was due to the ineptitude of the police to stop it. Corruption in politics, fear of the forest, lack of coordination, out of shape lawmen all made a mockery of his attempted apprehension.

But it is in sharing this aspect of Indian popular culture that has contributed to our feeling of intimate personal involvement with our host community which will stay in our hearts as we return home.

Not doing more than the average is what keeps the average down.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Larry Bartz

With three of our volunteers voted off the island the remaining six survivors struggle on. Breakfast for example was rather subdued until Rae set her trap. She first complimented Margery and Larry on how nicely they speak to each other in spite of being married for 37 years. Then she asked if they ever disagree. Margery grabbed the bait and the trap was sprung. Larry felt a cold dagger pierce his chest and twist as Margery expounded on some of his imaginary shortcomings. Larry has learned over time to deny everything and demand proof.

Ann’s day was quite interesting as one of her children (Little George) covered her in vomit from shoulder to toe. Being a positive person, she sighed and replied, “better vomit than urine.” Peter spent his day painting at the orphanage which was a better alternative to sanding and scraping. Poor Helen on the other hand, sanded and sanded and sanded until she was outside her comfort zone. Chatting and chatting and chatting continuously with fellow workers didn’t help. Perhaps it was the thought of giving up her cigarettes that pushed her over the edge. Sheeba was her usual gracious self. Steven the 2nd helped Larry and Margery plan out the rest of their trip to Northern India. Thank you Steven!

At 17:15 the survivors trooped over to the orphanage armed with books, Larry’s rope trick and 20 feet of extra rope to play tug-of-war. Tomorrow the new volunteers from Minnesota will join us and we will gladly throw them to the orphans like fresh meat to a starving lion. The day ended with a wonderful Indian dinner at the Green Pot Hotel. Sheeba served as our hostess with charm and dignity.

Thought for the Day:

Success is the maximum utilization of the ability you were given.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Peter Rient

Diminished in number (as the 2 weeker's left) but not in enthusiasm, Team 63 returned from its weekend in Kanyakumari with spirits revived by a ritual bathing of the feet at the tip of India to begin its final week of service in Chennai. The fatigue of the journey proved to be of little consequence (except as far as Larry was concerned), for Team Leader Stephen had cunningly arranged the timely arrival of reinforcements in the form of Team 64, consisting of seven new volunteers from Minnesota.

Helen and Peter returned to the SEAM Children’s Home, where they were joined by Team 64 members Michael, Jeff, Chuck and Grayce. While Grayce tutored some of the older children in preparation for their upcoming examination, the rest of us swarmed over the Prayer Hall, brushing, scraping, puttying and priming anything that did not move.

Meanwhile, at St. Joseph’s School, Larry found himself at a loss to understand why his carefully wrought lesson plan did not work, until he discovered that he had wandered into the wrong classroom by mistake. Rae was more fortunate. The fruit rhymes on DVD that she presented to the upper Kindergarteners were a huge success, with “Ba, Ba, Ba, Banana” topping the hit parade.

Over at Grace School, Margery was welcomed back warmly by the children, but then had to struggle gamely to overcome the distraction du jour – an exercise class next door so noisy that nobody could be heard. For her pains, she was later butted by a holy cow.

As usual, all went well at Assis Illam, Auntie Anne was joined by new aunties, Lisa, Susan and Michael from Team 64. Together they regaled the little ones with ABCs, songs and blocks; the children returned the favor by teaching their teachers the finer points of “Duck, Duck, Goose”.

Quote of the day

Come to the edge, He said.
They said, We are afraid.
Come to the edge, He said.
They came.
He pushed them…and they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Helen Mulcrow

We were surprisingly awoken at 5.15am by loud Indian music, on further inspection we realized this was the wake-up call for sunrise- several loud speakers outside of the hotel. Rae and I jumped out of bed and eagerly awaited sunrise, passing the time watching locals brushing their teeth down below us, one woman did this for half an hour! After a beautiful sunrise we went straight back to sleep before checking out of the hotel and meeting the rest of the now depleted Team 63 for breakfast.

Well fed, we walked down to the pier to catch a boat over to Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial. This grand tribute is on one of twin rocks about 200 meters offshore. Before he went abroad as a leading religious crusader of India, Swami Vivekananda came down to Kanyakumari in 1892 and sat on the rock in meditation for a couple of days. The memorial was built in 1970. Our favorite thing was the beautiful carvings inside which were white designs on shiny black stone – Larry wisely informs me you call this ‘black temple stone’. Then we took the same rickety old boat over to the Thiruvalluvar Statue, installed by the Tamil Nadu government in memory of the famous writer. Rae got a great shot of his toe from the viewing platform!

Back on dry land we headed to the actual tip of India and dipped our toes in the water. The three seas, the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, meet here and bathing in their confluence is considered holy. Then we crossed through the markets to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial. Larry and Rae both generously paid the watchman for the same piece of information- the memorial was designed so that on the 2nd October, Gandhi’s birthday, the sun’s rays come through the roof and fall on the spot where his ashes were placed for the public to see them before immersion.

Hot and exhausted, it was time for another good lunch followed by the choice of refreshments in the hotel bar or shopping. Marge and Peter hit the shops, each buying an item of women’s clothing! After a quick wash and change for some, we made our way to the station for our 5.15 departure. Once aboard, we are like old pros at this now, we settled in and had our usual 7 o’clock dinner of crisps, biscuits and bananas. Marge got the shock of her life when leaving the toilet- a train food seller belched so loudly in her face that Rae heard it in the next carriage. It was decided that he had been sampling too many of his own produce.

As we all climbed into our bunks to sleep, thoughts turned to our final week, sadly we will embark on it without Eula, Birgit and Jenifer. A new special team of volunteers awaits us at Porur, hopefully they will be new friends before the week is out.

Quote for the day

Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of a stranger.

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008


The six remaining from Team 63 arrived at about 7:30 AM in Kanyakumari, the “Lands End” of the Indian subcontinent, where the Bay of Bengal meets the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. From our train window we saw a surreal landscape of wind farms, fields of banana trees and gorgeous mountains.

Kanyakumari has a great spiritual significance for Hindus and is dedicated to the goddess Devi Kanya, an incarnation of Parvati. Pilgrims come here to visit the temple and bath in the sacred waters.

Larry, Marge, Peter, Anne, Helen and Rae were very well rested after their first Indian “sleepover” train ride and after checking into the Hotel Seaview, our first order of business was a hot shower and a hot breakfast. After breakfast we piled into a colorful burgundy Toyota SUV that had a wild jungle print on red velveteen upholstery that even covered the ceiling of the car. Our driver took us to the Suchindrum Temple, a 200 year old temple that required all men to remove their shirts before entering. Some of the highlights of the tour were an 18 ft. stone Hanuman statue, musical stone pillars, and seeing Peter and Larry without their shirts.

On the way into the Temple Anne bought a garland of roses that she planned on enjoying the aroma for the day. Anne found out during our tour that she was expected to leave the garland as an offering to Ganesch, which she graciously did.

Our temple guide was a very interesting fellow who kept saying “come on” as he quickly shuffled us through the 1000 pillar temple. We all had one of those “personal growth moments” when the guide told us at the end of the tour how much we were to pay him! Our tourist lesson of the day was to be sure we ask how much before we start the guided tour!

The driver then took us on a scenic route to our next sight, the Padmanabhapuram Palace. With several large lumberyards worth of carved ceilings and polished teak beams, this palace is considered to be the best example of traditional Keralan architecture today. The palace is situated in a way that has parts of it in Tamil Nadu and parts in the state of Keralan. Dating back to 1550, the 127 room structure it is the largest wooden palace complex in Asia. The entrance room had 90 uniquely flowers carved into the ceiling and a beautiful hanging brass horseman lamp that was 300 years old. Fourteen generations of Kings of Travancore made the palace complex their home. The Kings were very generous as they fed 2,000 Brahams every day for free in the huge dining hall. Chinese influence is evident in parts of the palace and the dining hall has large clay Chinese pots used to store pickles. Our bare feet felt so good walking on the highly polished, smooth black floor that was made from egg whites, limestone, sand, coconut and sugars. Our palace guide was absolutely the best as he made us feel like we living there in the 16th century and simply walking through our magnificent palace home. A very special building for us was the Thaikottarum, which was the oldest building in the palace complex and had 63 carvings on the ceiling. 63 for Team 63!

We were really hungry and especially thirsty so we headed out to find a place for lunch. As we went into a family restaurant called ASHAYATA , we were somewhat leery as we saw most of the patrons eating their food off of a banana tree leaf, but to our delight we had a delicious lunch!

Our jungle-mobile continued to head back towards Kanyakumari to make our last tourist stop at Vattakotthal, a circular shaped fort that was built by the Dutch in the 18th century. The fort overlooked the sea and we enjoyed the view of the distant windmills, the blue water and felt the ocean breeze cool our faces.

We headed back to the hotel for a little relaxation and refreshments before going to the beach in time for the sunset. Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin, is the southern most tip of India and is famous for it’s sunrises and sunsets. In April on full moon day there is a simultaneous sunset and moonrise over the ocean. Peter, Helen and Rae took a cab to Sunset Point to secure a good viewing place on the beach of the Arabian Sea. The sky was a bit cloudy so the sunset was not real clear, but the clouds made some beautiful shapes and colors.

Marge and Larry did some window shopping in the shops along the way back from the sunset watching. Peter found an antique store where the owner, who was Italian, told him all about most of the treasures in the shop.

Earlier in the day Helen made arrangements for herself, Anne and Rae to get a 90 minute Auruvedic massage at 7:30 Saturday night. As much as they were looking forward to it, they decided to cancel it due to the late time and wanting to have dinner with their team. Helen forced Rae to be the one to tell the man at the desk that they were canceling their appointment. Helen’s logic for this was that it would be a good personal growth experience for Rae! Helen will pay big time for that one!

Although we may not have seen the perfect sunset that day, the remaining six from Team 63 had a perfect day which will be remembered when they make the time in their busy lives to stop and watch the sun set wherever they are.

Quote for the day

The stalk of a lotus blossom grows long enough to protect the pretty flower out of water, so too a man’s level of greatness is determined by his own will.

The Kural # 595

Friday, February 29, 2008

Anne Daftary

Today is the last day of the two week program and we will be saying goodbye to our precious “aunties”. Birgit will be going home to Seattle, Wa loaded with gifts for friends and family and to teach her grandchildren Indian manners! Eula returns to Tucson, Az to the residents of her long term care facility to continue her loving care and Jenifer flys on to China for a two week tour before returning home to Hyannis, Mass.

Breakfast was a happy and melancholy affair as we took a look back at the last two weeks to reflect on our successes and near misses. E mail addresses were exchanged with promises of sharing some of the wonderful photos taken. A tearful Jenifer read her journal and the rest of us started tearing up. Stephen went over the itinerary for those of us remaining for the third week and who are embarking on an overnight train trip to Kanyakumari on the southernmost tip of India.

Off to work, the four aunties did numbers and ABCs and played a Nursery Rhyme DVD for all the children. Helen and Peter finished up painting the gates at St. Josephs, Margery class thought she must be sick because she was leaving to take a rail trip. After two weeks, Rae is starting to lose her voice, maybe because she started doing ten little monkeys instead of five.

Our final good byes to Eula, Birgit and Jenifer made, we were off to the train station with Stephen. He saw us onto the correct train compartment and advised us in Indian train etiquette. Then, left on our own, we settled in for the trip. Dinner consisted of chips and an occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich and oranges. Larry offered Biscuits to his fellow Indian travelers and of course they all refused. Could he be the infamous “American Biscuit Bandit”? After some interesting acrobatics we all settled into our lofty bunks. Peter had to swap for a middle because the air conditioning was too intense. Lights out and Kanykumari here we come.

Quote for the Day: “ Be the change you want to see.” Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, February 28, 2008


The four ‘aunties had a good day at Assisi, doing numbers, letters, stories, leggo blocks, songs and games. We’ve learned that we can’t control the chaos that 3,4, and 5 year olds often create, and instead to just go With the flow. Peter and Helen started their day completing the black fence painting and finished with gold-
Helen getting an Indian pedicure in the process. Larry tried to use his vocal chords a bit less in the classroom,Due to laryngitis. Rae continued on numbers in the classroom and thrilled them with a DVD in the afternoon. On her walk to the bidi store she was rescued from an ensuing dog by a courageous man who stopped
And got off his motorcycle to help her. After another satisfying day of teaching Margery too had an Indian Adventure. Becoming lost on her walk home she was led to safety across a busy thoroughfare by an elderly Woman. At SEAMS we focused on reading skills. Prabu and Mukesh seemed more motivated, which was Gratifying. We then donned our Indian garb with bidis from Rae, and were joined by Emily, Ann marie,and Fr.Paul for a sumptuous feast at a downtown hotel. It was a perfect last evening celebration. I too, thank Stephen, Sheba, Rani, Stephen I ,and Barnabus for their hard work and caring to help make our Experience successful and gratifying. I have enjoyed getting to know and working with all the team members And would like to stay in touch and hear about future travels and volunteering. A friend was right when she Said this work is life-changing. We are doubly blessed to be able to make friends and help others and ex-Perience the rich culture that is India.

The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than rule. Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I also would like to express my appreciation to all of the Global Volunteers Team Stephen II, Sheba, Stephen I, Rani, Barnabas and Dhas.
Team 63, in my opinion, could not have been better if I had hand picked it myself. I have so enjoyed meeting each and every one of you. Hopefully, our paths will cross in the near future.
Margery had an interesting day. A couple came in with their 4 year old son and a sleeping baby with an agenda of some kind with the teachers and the director. This meeting of 5 teachers was held outside Margery’s classroom, disrupting her class. The 5 teachers left their class unattended so their children were in disarray and out of control. Always something of interest is going on around Margery.
Painting was a bit of a bust today, no biscuits with coffee at break. Peter and Helen were showed the can of 24 karat gold to be used in the painting, but were not allowed to touch the can, professionals will be brought in for that painting.
All but Larry and Rae were off early today. We went to the government store to shop. Success and fun was had by all. We made a quick stop by the cake shop and then home again for a quick cleanup before we were off to the wonderful dinner at Stephen’s parents home. Great food, wonderful friends and lots of enjoyment was had by all. After visiting the neighborhood and lots of pictures we were back on the bus for a good nights rest.

“The world is so constructed that if you wish to enjoy its pleasures, you must also endure its pains. Whether you like it or not, you cannot have one without the other” by Swami Brahmamanda.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tuesday,February 26, 2008

Birgit Povlsen

Since this is my last opportunity to write in the journal, before I start with the events of the day I want to express how extraordinarily fortunate I feel to be a part of this fabulous team. In the almost two weeks since our arrival I haven’t witnessed so much as a cross word. I have found only support and humor---both in abundance. In a short time we have evolved from a group of strangers to a group of friends. I echo Larry when he said he would happily go on another Global adventure with this team----so where to next?

Of course nothing would have been possible without our team leader Stephen, and his wife Sheba. They have done everything possible to make our volunteer experience a successful one, and our time in India memorable, and fun. With them at the helm I think we managed to achieve most of the goals we set for ourselves on our first day as Team 63. Thank you Stephen and Sheba for your dedication and hard work.

Working at Asissi, and Seams has been both a challenge and a priviledge. The openness and warmth of the children would melt any heart. I know they have melted mine.

Jennifer, Eula, Anne and Birgit arrived at Assisi today, and were greeted by the usual exuberance of the children. We then divided into our groups of five children each, and began the hard work of ABC, counting and learning new words for as long as they would tolerate it. Then we brought out our new project of stringing sago noodles---a big hit. After the children finished, the noodles were collected by Sister Rose, and much to our surprise, and delight became a part of our lunch---very tasty. The afternoon was leisurely. We folded clothes and cuddled the little ones.

On our van ride home Peter and Helen reported on their grueling day of gate painting, and watching soap operas. Actually, their soap operas were interrupted by the lady from Scotland, and entertaining her became perhaps the most grueling part of the day.

Larry didn’t have anything special to report, but was satisfied at the way the day went. I am sure the children are thriving under his tutelage----how could they not?!

Rae had a surprise when she returned to her class after lunch to find not only her class, but also the ninth grade class. She was excited at first, thinking they had come to help, but then came to find out they were actually being punished. Since they insisted on responding in Tamil instead of in English, as they were supposed to in the class, as a punishment they were sent to the kindergarten to learn English. This whole exercise turned out to be a far greater punishment for Rae however then it was for the rebellious 9th graders.

Margery was having a good day in her classroom until a peddler came by and insisted she needed to buy some of his wares. No matter what she did she could not convince him that she was busy with her students, and not interested, It was not until the principal came to her aid that the peddler gave up and she was able to continue.

We all gathered at Seams before dinner for an evening of reading with the children as mosquitoes consumes us.

Our evening ended with good food and good conversation among friends. Stephen gave us another informative talk, this time about some of the other religions found in India such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Then we gradually drifted away from the table to prepare for tomorrow.

Quote: You never achieve real success unless you like what you are doing.

Monday, February 25, 2008


We were all a bit subdued at Monday’s breakfast after our exciting weekend venture south to Mammalapurum and
Pondicherry, yet eager to begin our second week’s work with Global Volunteers. I looked forward to my first day
At Assissi Illam and felt fortunate to be working with the now experienced Anne, Eula, and Birgit. With babies in
their arms and children all about, the sisters greeted us. We were quickly grouped with a group of 3-5 year olds,
and for the next several hours did our best to entertain and educate them. Letters, numbers, animals, colors, parts
of the body, were named and repeated, with constant effort to hold their attention. After an hour their interest was
waning and it was time for songs and games. We gathered into a large group for this. From London Bridge to Old
McDonald, we conjured up every childhood song we could. Then it was time for cleanup and lunch. We wound
down in the afternoon and played with the young ones. After Assissi we went in search of some of that wonderful
Indian fabric to be made into salwar kameezes. Then another busy evening at SEAMS where we devoted the time
To ABC’s and numbers for the younger children and some math for the older ones, followed by candy and balloons.
After another of Rani’s good Indian dinners, Stephen guided us in reassessing our four main goals, and we agreed
That we indeed were: 1) Having fun meeting new people
2) Helping others
3)Experiencing Indian culture
4) and personal growth