Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Millinium Development Goals

Achieved by this team from July 20 - July 24;

110 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 8 volunteers and 110 Hours of preparation time.

20 Hours
of childcare by 2 volunteer

60 Hours of construction at Seams to build the Stage 2 of the Dormitories

2 Schools, 2 Children's Home and over 400 students impacted

Sunday July 19th- Orientation Day

by: Nicole

This morning I woke up a bit tired and I am guessing my fellow team mats were equally as groggy. The long flights, time zone changes and songs from our neighborhood friends (The Cows) are going to take a little getting used to.

After a wonderful breakfast, we got right down to the orientation. We went over team goals, learned policies and received our work assignments. Along with our resident expert, Alexi, who has been here 3 weeks already I will be working at Assissi. Makese, Priya, Lucy and George will be teaching and Jeremy and Drew will lend a hand with the construction projects at SEAM.

After eating a delicious lunch we were able to take some time to re-energize. I am finding that energy is important to have when there are some many people seeking out your attention.

In the evening we walked over to SEAM and we’re introduced to the kids. There were very welcoming and instantly wanted to shake our hands. After receiving a wonderful solo from one of the boys we mingled a bit. George, Alexi and I played “the wheels on the bus” and Hooky Poky” Jeremy and Drew were a bit hit with the boys.

Lucy and I rode back from SEAM on the auto-rikshaw and the driver dropped us off at the wrong house. “no no I said, this is not our house, we are near the post office” Luckily we weren’t that lost, just on the block over but for a moment Lucy and I were nervous. Later Stephen told us it was the old Global Volunteers house. Know wonder why the driver was looking at us like we were nuts!

Most of the crew went out to dinner. Priya, Lucy and myself stayed back to tuck ourselves into bed early.

We have a busy day tomorrow. I am nervous as well as excited. Here’s to the beginning of an amazing adventure shared with new friends. Go team 80!

Quote – “Be the change you want to see in the world” Gandhi

Monday, July 20th , 2009

By Drew

Today marked the first day of both hard and rewarding work. Jeremy and I carried bricks up the stairs and made piles of them. Eventually we will build a wall using plaster to create a new compound for the students. Priya, Lucy and Makese taught English to the children today. The general consensus was that the morning was difficult but the afternoon brought great progress and innovation. The man working the site with us was a total packhorse. While I carried an average of five bricks a load, he carried at least eight. The pile on the roof has grown substantially and morale within the group is very good. I am honored to be surrounded by such benevolent and altruistic people. Our guide Stephen forms the bedrock of the group. His quick smile and easygoing personality makes everybody’s experience a real treat. George, Alexi and Nicole really felt like they connected with the kids today. In the evening we played with the kids. Asharon and I have developed a special bond. His assertive and helpful personality has been has been extremely refreshing. After our time at the orphanage was done we had dinner. So far I am optimistic that we can replicate the success we had on day one.

Quote - “ No person was ever honored for what he received; honor has been the reward for what he gave.” - Calvin Coolige

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

By Priya

A journal in five parts.

Heat and Dust

I sniffed this morning, inhaling a forgotten memory. There’s an aroma unique to Indian roads – a mixture of heat, dust, petrol fumes, the exhaust of a thousand cars, spices, bougainvillea, jasmine, trash and fresh food. They all jostle for space in this – my enduring olfactory memory of rush hour traffic in India. Throw in visuals of bustling crowds, bright saris, strays and the occasional cow munching someone’s dinner from last night - and you have a perfect recipe for orderly chaos each morning.

Jasmine, flowers and pretty homes

Makese, Lucy and I were headed to St. Joseph’s this morning – Makese to teach UKG and Lucy and I to teach a period each for grades 3, 4, and 5.

Lucy and I had planned to involve the grade 3 students in a spelling bee – a plan that also became a lesson in adaptation. We switched to a game of ‘Around the World’ – testing students on simple math problems. I enjoyed observing Lucy; as a teacher, her ability to engage her students is fascinating to watch. We also drew on a suggestion from Makese and used the game ‘Hang Man’ to test spelling. It worked a treat, especially with grades 4 and 5. We set it up as a challenge – could they beat us (the instructors)? Sadly, they did! :-)

Other vignettes that caught my eye: school girls wearing jasmine flowers in their hair and drawings that were presented to us by children – interestingly, they were almost all of homes. Oddly enough, we were also mobbed for autographs in each class. Eat your heart out, Angelina!

Slipping between languages

I have to laugh at how much Tamil I do remember. I have not spoken the language consistently for almost 17 years and am still pretty fluent. Switching between languages does help with the children; I get a few wide-eyed looks, but it works!

That voice was not meant for Broadway, or was it?

It had to happen sometime –I had to sing. My voice is not what you might call ‘stage quality’. Those less kind might even call me tone deaf. And yet, I had fun at SEAM this evening singing with the older girls. The National Anthems of both India and America never sounded better. Rebecca has a lovely voice – she hits her notes and has pitch perfect delivery. On a personal level, I did enjoy speaking with the girls and talking them about their plans and dreams. I perhaps could not ask for more than “She impacted a life in some small way.”

Other highlights of today:

• Drew and Jeremy at work on the construction site.
• George talking about his choice to come back to India.
• Lexi and Nicole at Assisi, doing the Macarena in addition to teaching.

Quotes of the Day

The Profound:
There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home—John Stuart Mill

The Amusing:

‘Stephen, if I brush my teeth with tap water (instead of bottled), will I die?’ Sadly – this was the contribution of the author of today’s blog…and was uttered earlier today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

By George

The sun rose over Chennai today in a partial eclipse. As I watched from our roof-top terrace, it didn’t matter to me that the clouds obscured the effect, I knew that I was sharing the moment with millions of other early risers across Asia. There won’t be another eclipse of this length until 2114. The paper reported that many Hindu temples would be closed until the moon had safely passed the sun to avoid the bad spirits. I felt nothing but good vibes as Team 80 began its third day of service.

Drew and Jeremy continued to do the heavy lifting at SEAMS. Combined they’ve moved thousands of bricks to the second level. The brick piles are getting smaller as the walls of the dormitories rise higher. We’re all proud of them. Alexi and Nicole once again spent their morning at Assisi. The children clamor for their attention and they give it willingly. Lucy, Priya, and Makese have setteled into a routine at St. Josephs. It has been a challenge developing lessons that engage the classes that number over 45 but they are more than up to the challenge by using their creativity and skill. I had a great time at Grace School as usual. The fifth standard boys were preparing for their Tamil exam. I had them each recite two of their Tamil poems then write them out for me. Of course I didn’t understand them but I would have given them all A’s. In the evening, at SEAMS, we worked with the children in our small groups. Makese is working with a boy who has no English reading skills. It is so heartwarming to watch how intently he listens to her teaching. It is obvious that this one to one instruction is going to make a difference for him.

In the evening, we made a quick run downtown to buy some silk and silver then we headed home for Briani and Vegies, then fell into bed.

Thought for the day: “Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! Anne Frank

Thursday, July 23, 2009

By Lucy

The day began with a new experience for some of us. Alexia, Nicole, Priya and I all went to Assisi Preschool for the morning. The children at this preschool have a lovely, clean environment. The teachers divided the little ones into four groups of about ten children each. The children helped bring plastic chairs and set them in order. The little ones were very good. Alexia and Nicole did lots of songs with motions with their groups.

The morning ended with whole group activities. First, small sheets of colored paper were passed out and also crayons. Then the children colored creatively, mostly lines and circles. When time for this activity was over, th children returned the crayons in a vry orderly manner and turned in their artistic masterpieces to the teacher.

The children especially loved the Macarena which was evidently a great favorite of theirs. Nicole also led the group in a long line—the TRAIN! Everyone laughed and had a great time with this. The children also especially loved a circle game, ‘Banana, banana, -- JUICE, when the child in the circle who was tagged had to get up and chase the tagger around the circle. Some younger children didn’t quite understand and just sat and looked puzzled. One or two just got up and ran for the joy of running. While Nicole and ‘Lexi played this game with joyful abandon, Priya and Lucy took photos.

Then it was time for lunch and the children sat in two facing lines, prayed and ate. The whole morning was well choreographed and it was hard to tell which group had the most fun, the children, the teachers or the volunteers.
Our Kindergarten specialist, Makese, went to St. Joseph’s school as she does daily.

Jeremy and Drew continued their labor at SEAMS and Drew reported that the construction work there seemed to be getting easier. They reported satisfaction in their very important construction work there.

After lunch back at ‘home’ we set out for an early afternoon session at SEAMS. Priya worked with two of the older young ladies, while Lucy worked with Jacob.

Back home again for an afternoon siesta… It was definitely HOTTER today.

From 5:30-6:30 we all returned to our usual afternoon sessions at SEAMS.

A brief stop at home to refresh and/or change clothes then on to the Ambica Empire Hotel, the ‘hotel with a heart’. There we all delighted in the varied buffet fare, and some enjoyed other liquid refreshment. Everyone had a GREAT time! Stephen (#2) and an autorickshaw driver brought us back home uneventfully.

The quote of the day is one of Goldstein’s truisms and suits Global Volunteers well. “Success means only doing what you do well, letting someone else do the rest.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Millinium Development Goals

Achieved by this team from July 13 - July 17;

37.5 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 2 volunteers and 37.5 Hours of preparation time.

10 Hours
of childcare by 1 volunteer

1 School, 2 Children's Home and over 150 students impacted

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today began with a very early start. At 4am Alexi and I got up to make our flight back to Chennai. In our tired and hungry state, we found a Coffee Bean at the airport. We had toasted bagels with cream cheese. All of a sudden we were surprised to hear that it was the last call for our flight. We thought we had forty five minutes. Fortunately we made it on time. We met Stephen at the airport and headed to the guest house.

Over my second breakfast, we told Sheeba and Stephen about our incredible weekend, which included a spa visit, temples, tanning, and an elephant orphanage. Alexi and I then got ready for the long day ahead of us, returning to our schedule in the first week; she went to Assisi Illam, I went to Grace School.

I arrived in time for the fourth graders. I taught them about vowels and coma use, we ready stories, and played hangman. Then I had the second graders who were full of excitement and energy. Alexi was glad to be back with the little ones at Assisi and they were glad to see her.

We had lunch. Then went to Grace School to teach the third and first graders. We taught the third graders about the equator, hemispheres, longitudinal and latitudinal lines. Then we played a game reviewing material they’ve learned with us. We made it competitive, dividing the class in two. The two teams were The Lime Greens and The Lions. The Lime Greens won by a majority. Then read stories to the first graders.

Later we went to SEAM, where Alexi continued teaching computer basics and I continued working one on one with Pragash. We then had dinner, did the dishes, and went to bed!

Tuesday, June 14, 2009

Today was a very special day! It is Roshan’s first birthday! Lisa and I ate breakfast alone today on account of Sheeba and Stephan taking Roshan to church. Then we both went on our separate ways; I to Assisi Illam and Lisa to Grace School. I worked with the little ones on reading, dancing, singing, and finished with coloring… their favorite. Lisa worked with the fifth, fourth, and second standards on various subjects.
At lunch we were sad to hear that Lisa would be leaving us a day early to go on her next adventure. We will be sad to see her go on Thursday! We also discussed the altered schedule for the special festivities. We both headed to Grace School to work with the third and first standards. Today, the third standard was ready to play “Pop Quiz” the game with questions relating to their recent course of study. The Latin Kings were very excited when they defeated Team Tiger. The first standard was “komali” as usual. They practiced writing their names and we finished with some songs.
During our afternoon break, I printed the card Rajesh had made for Roshan on the computer. Lisa and I also made a trip to the Fancy Store to buy some henna and bindis for our friends. Then we headed back to Assisi Illam with Stephan’s family for a birthday mass with Sister Rose and the gang. After a lovely ceremony, cake, and lots of pictures we were off to SEAM for the evening and dinner. Another ceremony commenced and then dinner of chicken briyani, followed by many more pictures and presents. we continued to have lots of fun playing with the children. And so, thus ends Roshan’s first birthday! A day filled with lots of love, laughter, and happiness. Lisa and I both felt privileged to be a part of it.

Thought for the day: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!”

Thursday, July 16, 2009:

We began our day with dosai and strawberry jam, one of our favorites! Then it was off to our work cites. Lisa spent the morning with the fifth, fourth, and second standard at the Grace School. They had made here cards and notes telling her how much she would be missed. I spent the morning with the children of Assisi Illam. Sister Rose commented that I looked tired and brought me some fresh guava with salt and pepper. Father Cristo stopped by to show me some video footage of traditional Indian dance, and some of the seminars he has attended recently. It was very interesting and we decided that we should all go see a performance together sometime.
After lunch at the guest house we went back to the Grace School for our last afternoon together teaching the third and first standard. They were filled with energy as usual but enjoyed a little bit of fun on Lisa’s last day. We played games, sang songs and colored. After a very tearful goodbye with some more notes of thanks we went back to the guest house. Lisa and I practiced our artistic skills with some henna and ended up washing it off too early. It turned out a bit orange but luckily we have more henna to work with. Then we were off to SEAM for another tearful goodbye. I worked hard to choke back tears as we walked through the gates. Lisa and I were given the royal treatment as each child thanked us personally and then sang us a lovely song. We both were in tears by the end. The children we have worked with over the past 3 weeks are wonderful and we love each and every one of them. It was has truly been a gift to work with them.
We then rushed back to the guest house to send Lisa on her way to the airport, while Sheeba and I had a relaxing night at home. We are all sad to see Lisa go, she has been an asset to our team and I can’t imagine doing this without her. But we are also looking ahead to the new team that will be arriving in the next couple of days.

Thought for the Day: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Millinium Development Goals

Achieved by this team from July 6 - July 10;

37.5 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 2 volunteers and 37.5 Hours of preparation time.

10 Hours of childcare by 1 volunteer

1 School, 2 Children's Home and over 150 students impacted

Monday, July 06, 2009

After a very amusing and entertaining weekend, we entered our second week in India. Breakfast consisted of noodles, hard boiled eggs, and tomato chutney. Unlike last week, Alexi left for Grace School and I left for Assisi Illam. Alexi taught the fifth, fourth, and second graders in the morning. I was with Stephen who helped me with the little ones. We sang songs, colored, and attempted to play duck, duck, goose. Stephen showed the crying toddlers picture dictionaries while the others watched TV.

Before I knew it, it was lunch time. We ate rice, beets, and potatoes, and mangoes, of course! Then we were off to Grace School to teach our usual group of third and first graders. We taught the third graders how a verb changes depending on the number of subjects. In the last few minutes we played hangman with them. With the first grade, we taught them big versus small, shapes, reviewed addition problems, and sang songs.

At SEAMs, Alexi showed the older kids how to work a computer. She showed them Microsoft word and most of them already knew how it functions. I, on the other hand, tried teaching a boy the alphabet and how each letter sounds. Eventually he was able to read simple words such as “cat” and “bat” which was exciting! We then made it back to the guest house for dinner. We had naan, some chutneys, and omelets. Then I went straight to bed, while Alexi stayed up a little longer to play with Roshan.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009:

The day began with a wonderful breakfast of dosai, peanut chutney and eggs, then it was off to the Grace School and Assisi Illam. At the Grace School I taught the 5th graders about different types of punctuation, and what they mean. I worked with the fourth grade on their reading skills and multiplication tables, teaching them a few tricks to remember the answers. With the second grade we read stories and played games. Lisa spent the morning with the children at Assisi Illam, they spent the morning coloring, singing and reciting Nursery Rhymes. Then it was back to the Guest House for a lunch of beef with curry sauce, fried naan, and cooked beans. We also had our favorite… MANGO!
In the afternoon, we worked with the third and first grades at the Grace School. The third graders learned what an adjective is and finished the lesson with a game of hangman. The first graders enjoyed learning their body parts, singing songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and playing games like “Duck, Duck, Goose.” Then it was back to the Guest House for a little rest. Lisa and I went to the Internet place for some chocolate. Then Sheeba showed us their wedding album. At SEAM, we worked with some of the older children on computer skills. I taught Rajesh how to play “Hearts” on the computer. Lisa worked with Pragash on his alphabet and made some significant progress.
The day was made complete with a yummy dinner of rice, curry, cabbage and beets. Another day in India!

Thought for the day: “Do everything with love.”

Wednesday July 8, 2009

We began our day with noodles and omlets. Then Alexi and I parted ways. She taught the fifth graders grammar rules, read to the fourth graders and second graders. I was at Assisi Illam reading, singing, and coloring with the crying little ones. I followed Stephen’s advice to save coloring for when they get really restless, which worked!

Alexi and I were on our own for lunch, since Stephen and Sheeba had taken Roshen to the hospital. We ran into them on our way to the new grocery store to get ingredients to make cookie dough. We bought sugar, butter, peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate to make peanut butter-chocolate-oatmeal cookie dough! Unfortunately, when Alexi tasted the butter it was completely foul! It smelt like blue cheese… So we used the butter in the fridge. Within minutes, our batter was ready to eat! Yum

We then went to the Grace School. We tried to revise adjectives with the third graders when all of a sudden one of the boys started crying! Alexi and I could not figure out what had happened, so I called in a fifth grader to ask him in Tamil what upset him. After the fifth grader’s interpretation, Alexi managed to decode what had happened. To make a long story short one of the girls had written down his name to tattle on him so that his teacher would hit him! So Alexi and I immediately gave the kids a lesson on why tattle-telling is cruel and wrong.

We taught the first graders the sounds of letters to help them with reading in the future. Alexi did most of the teaching, since I was feeling light headed. The first graders seemed to really enjoy this lesson shouting out the sounds, letters, and words.

We then headed back to the guesthouse. I went to bed and Alexi and Stephen went to SEAMs without me. When they came back we went to dinner at MaryBrown’s and ate fried chicken, chicken burgers, and French fries. Alexi and I were very happy.

“Happiness is not in having or being; it is in doing”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Millinium Development Goals

Achieved by this team from June 29 - July 3;

37.5 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 2 volunteers and 37.5 Hours of preparation time.

10 Hours of childcare by 1 volunteer

1 School, 2 Children's Home and over 150 students impacted

Monday, June 29, 2009

The day began with the news that Lisa had gotten little sleep. But in good spirits she joined us for breakfast, which consisted of rice with sauce, eggs, and those wonderful bananas. We received our assignments for the day and gathered some materials. I would be going to Assisi Illam to assist the sisters with Daycare for the two through five year olds for the morning. Lisa would be going to Grace School to teach the second, fourth, and fifth graders with English. Then the afternoon would be spent together at Grace School with the Kindergarten and first grade and the third graders. After a short rest we would all be going to SEAM for some time with the children.

The bus ride to the Grace School was short but fascinating seeing the neighborhood pass as we made our way to the school. Upon arrival we were greeted by the Ester, her father and sister in law, all who work and teach at the school. We met all the children we would be working with. They greeted us with lots of smiles and handshaking. Leaving Lisa to teach the older students in the morning, Stephan and I made our way to St. Thomas Hospital to meet the founder of Assisi Illam, a remarkable woman who has made a tremendous contribution to the Porur community. I spent the morning working with Sister Rose, Sister Virgin, Jesi, and Rena and children of Assisi Illam. They were very energetic and enjoyed singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the Alphabet Song, the Macarena, Old McDonald, and The Wheels on the Bus. Then back to the bus to pick up Lisa.

Lunch was amazing as always, with the added bonus of fresh mango! After a short rest we were back to Grace School. After some confusion on what grade we would be teaching we had the third grade, and first grade. The students were very well behaved and introduced themselves to us both. We taught both classes together as they were larger classes. The first grade knew all their colors and did very well learning fruits and vegetables. The third grade was a very lively bunch with a shorter attention span. We sang lots of songs and enjoyed our time together.

After our afternoon break we headed off to SEAM Orphanage. Stephan read to the Children a letter from one of the former volunteers to all the children. She had also sent many pictures of the children for them to have. It was truly heartwarming. Later we tested the smaller children on their ABC’s, numbers, colors, and even some body parts. They all did very well. We also read them some stories, which they enjoyed. Then it was back to the house for some potatoes and cauliflower, green beans and naan. A great start on our journey here in Porur.

What a wonderful day!

Thought of the Day:
“What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others remains, and is immortal.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We began our day with an incredible breakfast. We had dosai with a spicy green sauce, scrambled eggs with onions, and bananas. After breakfast, I left for the Grace School and Alexi left for Assisi Illam. At the Grace School, I first taught fifth grade. Stephen had advised me over breakfast to teach them simple grammar, so that’s what I did. I taught them nouns, verbs, and adverbs. After that period, the kids had their fifteen minute break, where they all coveted for high-fives and thumb wrestling. The next periods I read picture books to the fourth grade, since the bell never rang and my other class never came.

Meanwhile, Alexi was at Assisi Illam with the babies and toddlers. She sang songs with them and taught them the dance ‘Macarena’ and colored with them. Unfortunately, when one baby started crying it had a ripple effect and within minutes they were all in tears.

Over lunch Alexi and I discussed what we would do with the third and first graders. For the first grade we decided a simple grammar lesson would be best. For the first graders, who have almost no attention span, we decided to revise numbers and colors and sing songs, such as ‘head, shoulders, knees, and toes’. Once we were in the classroom at Grace School we were only able to cover the difference between nouns and verbs with the third grade. The first graders, knew all of the colors and could count to 20 without any difficulty, so we taught them how to say some shapes in English.

We then went to SEAMs and had an hour with two groups of eight year olds. Alexi and I read picture books to them, which they greatly enjoyed. We had a lovely meal for dinner, and after we went to a food market to get yoghurt. The walk itself was nerve-racking but fortunately we had Stephen to guide us.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”- Gandhi

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

We started the morning with vadai, a specialty of Southern India. Then Lisa and I parted ways, Lisa was off to the Grace School and I was headed to Assisi Illam. Jesi was still ill today, so I had all the children to myself. It wasn’t the normal crowd, it was a holiday for the school kids so we had many older students and none of the younger ones that I have had all week but I still had a wonderful time having them read to me and helping them with pronunciation. At the Grace School, Lisa told her morning classes that she would not be with them next week. They all said good bye, and some drew her some fun pictures. Lunch was yummy, as usual and Lisa and I spent most of our lunch break, planning our upcoming trip to Sri Lanka.
After lunch we made our way to Grace School. Time flew by with the 3rd Graders, where we worked on dark and light colors, capital letters, and geography. Our time with the 1st Grade was humorous as always. We practiced addition and subtraction, and dark and light colors. They were very well behaved today, but we had one boy who looked ill. We both went back to the house for a quick nap before heading to SEAM. The kids were excited to see us. Lisa spent the evening working with an older boy on his English, while I played games with the younger ones. We spent the evening racing, playing duck, duck, goose, red light/green light, ring around the rosie and Indian match. Then we finished the day with dinner back at the guest house.

“You are what you continually do.”