Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What a day! My day began at St. Joseph’s School where I gave out candy to students and teachers as it is traditional to do so on one’s birthday. In India it is customary that on one’s birthday, that person give to others as opposed to the Western custom of the birthday person receiving gifts. It was a welcome and refreshing change. I went around to each of the classes handing out candy and when I did, each student would shake my hand and say something like, “many, many pleasant birthdays to come Miss.” It took me a while to go through the entire school because in each class I entered the class would sing a different version of the Happy Birthday song.
Today my seventh graders really stood out. India’s Independence Day is August 15th and earlier today I watched the students perform marches and dances in preparation for the upcoming celebration. The topic of discussion for seventh grade was therefore how India gained independence from British rule. The students conversed with me about the different leaders of India and their influence on this country. The students also recited the Indian Pledge which is included at the bottom of this entry. The class then sang their national anthem, which was written in, and therefore sang in Bengali. They pressed me to sing America’s national anthem for them in return, luckily there were no windows or video cameras in the room.
Following Stephen’s suggestion, I celebrated my birthday in the evening with the children of Seam’s orphanage. We brought cake, fruits, and their favorite dish (Chicken Briyanni) to share with them. The children performed dances, sang songs, and popped balloons filled with confetti over our heads. It was wonderful. I was deeply touched by the efforts of the children to make this time so special for me and they truly succeeded at doing so. After all of the dancing and celebration we sat down together for a meal. It was fascinating to watch the older children feed the others and a silence came over all of us as we focused on our full plates of food. I am profoundly humbled by the childrens’ generosity and love.
Thank you so much (Nandri!!!) Stephen, George, Kathy, and Rica and I am also especially thankful to the children of Seam’s. I will cherish the memory always.


“Liberty is fantastic.”-Naren Dranath (a 7th grader at St. Joseph’s school)

Indian Pledge:
India is my country, all Indians are brothers and sisters, and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall give my parents, teachers, and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy. To my country and my people I pledge my devotion, in their well being and prosperity alone lies my happiness.

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