Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from December 20 to December 25

130 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 5 volunteers and 130 Hours of preparation time

36 Hours of Childcare by 2 volunteer. over 35 students impacted

2 Children's Homes, 1 School and over 140 students impacted.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

“There is nothing quite as satisfying as creating joy in the life of a child.” -Me

“Happy Christmas!” That phrase was used today countless times by the happiest group of kids I have ever witnessed, and five benevolent volunteers, spending the most celebrated holiday in the Western world, Christmas, with the children at Assisi-Illam and SEAMS. My search for the perfect quote could not be answered by the Internet this time. How could it? For only we were witness to the childrens joy. Only we could put into words what today was like.

As with all December 25ths, Asha and I seemed to spring out of bed; however, this year we left to find a phone in order to contact our family. Our search led to a payphone on the main road, in front of a bustling coffee shop. After fumbling with the dial pad and a few Rupees, we managed to briefly hear Asha’s mom’s voice on the other line. Unfortunately, it was covered by an annoying “busy” signal that prevented any conversation. Our second attempt was futile, but just then, two gentlemen approached us and asked, in perfect English dialect, if we needed help. At first we politely refused, but they were insistent on helping us, and we timidly agreed. A quick switch of the SIM cards between phones and Asha was dialing away. After a brief, but emotional conversation, Asha finished and one of the men said, “You miss your mother.” He was spot on. Although we both missed our family this morning, their incredibly kind and unexpected gesture felt like Christmas morning usually does; though this time, it was on the other side of the world, and in the presence of total strangers.

After another scrumptious breakfast, the ladies were off to wrap themselves in Sari’s. Naturally, Sheeba assisted with the proper tucking, pinning and accessorizing, leaving all five ladies looking beautiful. I on the other hand, squeezed myself into a Santa outfit more appropriately fitted for a child. With a pillow stuffed under the shirt, the highest water pants one might imagine, and a mask that looked more intimidating than jolly, we were off to spread the Christmas cheer.

Arriving at Assisi-Illam was quite an experience. People in the neighborhood surrounding the home lined the streets as we approached and welcomed us to their area, St Thomas Mount. “Happy Christmas,” they shouted, as we shook hands, smiled and spread the Christmas cheer. The kids at Assisi were thrilled to meet Santa and see the ladies in full Indian attire. Shelly mesmerized the kids as she sang a beautiful rendition of Silent Night and visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. They were thrilled to receive gift baskets complete with soaps, towels and most importantly candies. In return, we were treated to a dance performance by the children that was fit for the next Kollywood film. These kids are talented!

Lunch today was our first true traditional meal; eating on banana leaves, with our hands and joined by the staff, Barnaby, Stephen and Ronnie. It was an enjoyable experience and I am glad I tried it, but I will stick to my utensils.

This evening was incredible! We spent Christmas night with the kids at SEAMS, fully intent on spreading Christmas love and cheer. As we arrived, the children were speculating who was underneath this Santa mask, taking cues from my shoes, light hair, and my voice. “Jon!” they shouted. “No, he’s at home sick. I am Santa!” I replied.

Regardless of what we looked like on the outside, the kids could sense our compassion on the inside. The highlight of the evening was giving each child a gift basket, created by our team, complete with shoes, essentials and candy. They were overjoyed and very thankful! In response, we again were treated to beautiful dance performance by the kids, seemingly thrilled to show off their dance moves. Shelly sang Christmas songs to the kids, and they responded with a singing competition. Maria was cunning in her approach to judging the contestants; however, the clear winner was Room #6. A few wild games of musical chairs, complete with Shelly crashing to the floor and Cathy offering the victory to Maria, was the perfect ending to a fantastic day.

As we finish off Christmas night, we all have a deep sense of satisfaction from today’s activities that comes when creating joy in the life of a child. This has been the most meaningful Christmas of my life and I am truly proud of what our team was a part of today. Happy Christmas!


Friday, Dec. 24th 2010
 “One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster and one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life” Chinese Proverb

It’s a good thing too since Maria was going to Seam’s to treat the children for head lice. They wouldn’t let her wash their hair at night because they were worried the children would get colds. I guess they’ve not been informed that the cold doesn’t cause colds, bacteria does. So it was just Asha and I at Assisi with even more children than normal. While slowly getting ready in the morning, I came down to find Asha more than prepared to take on today’s group of wild orphans. Thank god since I was in slow motion.

While at Assisi Illam Asha takes the older children and I play with a larger group of younger children. Needless to say today was the first day that really tried my patience. I really enjoy being called auntie but it was pretty overwhelming being called auntie over and over by ten different excited young children at once. I had to go take a break in the washroom at one point. I almost completely lost my patience with Augustine since he was really acting up today. I had to try to ignore him while keeping him sitting and cornered to punish him for his violent behavior which was no easy task.

Breath, Shelly breath….. They are just children and they are only trying to get your love and attention. I didn’t even bring out the rackets because I knew I couldn’t handle it!

Lunch was the usual talk of old volunteers and the children we work with. Stephen asked us today if there were any complaints or requests and none of us said a word. He then praised our group for being so great and making his job easy. Ahhhhhh….. Positive reinforcement and assurance feels good!

We went to Seams in the evening and I was light on the kids studies but instead of trying to play they talked amongst themselves (highly frustrating). I had to get Stephen to scold them in tamil and they were given a time out. They actually got angry with me and gave me back the words to the song I wrote out for them to learn and refused to sing and dance with me! It hurt my feelings but they are kids and by the end of our visit they lightened up and I gave them back the words and asked them to practice.

There is one thing about today which makes me laugh (kind of) Kathy has a way of making me cry! She almost brought me to tears in the morning with her beautiful journal passage but she actually made me cry relaying the awful story about the poor abused teacher at Grace. We do our best to help but still we must stand by and be witness to the many struggles of those suffering around us. All we can do is lend our ears and listen as best we can, offering our caring and empathy. As much as I appreciate and respect this culture it is hard being a woman and also having suffered abuse myself and fought my way out of it enough to be here and stronger in spite of the repercussions in my life. It makes me angry and sad to know there is little she can do to help her situation without receiving a negative response from her community.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

We are on our third day working with the children here in beautiful India. Being a small part of the development and education of a child, any child, is one of the most rewarding experiences one could ever do. And being a part of a team that has a common goal of assisting the children here is overwhelming.

Our day started as usual, a wonderful, aromatic, traditional Indian breakfast with discussions about almost everything. Previous days experiences, our upcoming weekend trip, Stephan’s funny stories and of course the children. Jon, the “token male”, was volunteered on day one by Sheba to be this year’s Santa Clause. Although the pants are 6” too short, the jacket 3 sizes too small and the hat stretched to capacity over his huge head, he of course agreed with a smile and is willing to put his hair-do aside for the children.

After our morning meeting we were off to our assigned locations. Jon packed up his 40lb back pack and was off to SEAMS to teach computer skills. He is inquisitive about the culture as to incorporate this knowledge with the children. He uses this as a learning tool and a piece of information to be able to relate to them. He was so proud that he taught them how to create an outline of India’s different school systems.

Kathy, the favourite among the teachers’s at Grace School, was able to spend the day teaching them conversational English, computers, and watched what sounded like a very strange movie with the children after their exam was finished She is in such high demand there that the Principal asked Stephan as to NOT COME BEFORE 1PM. Kathy’s generosity is a radiating quality about her and I see why she is so loved at Grace School.

Shelly, Maria and I were off to the Assisi Illam Day Care Center. Our day was full of reading, puzzle making, bubbles and several verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”, which I am still singing in my head. The children today seemed more tired and agitated than before. But all in all it was a fun productive day.

We all met back at the Guest House for lunch and decided to do some shopping for the Christmas. Stephan, Sheba, a sleeping Roshan, Shelly and I ventured out into the afternoon traffic of Chennai to collect some supplies.

We rushed back to the Guest House to get ready for our afternoon at SEAMS. Maria excitedly received her long lost luggage which contained a large variety of medical supplies for the children. Antibiotic ointments, children’s aspirin, and basic bandages fixed up a few of the young ones

We all commenced with our groups and each is falling into what type of teaching skills are best suited to the variety of skill level we all have both within ourselves and within our group of children. Shelly has found a relatable tactic by teaching the girls songs and dances. It shows her ability to adapt to her audience and is well received by the children.

At the end of the day we all, as usual, had our challenges and rewards with our groups today and I look forward to seeing what new and exciting experiences tomorrow


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Well, here I am, finally. After 3 days of being stuck in London, stuck in the same clothes, and stuck in hotel rooms with complete strangers, I have now joined my expected and appropriate group of complete strangers, and I must say, I couldn’t have joined a better group. As usual, Global has compiled a perfect mixture of people ranging from calm to hyper, naïve to experienced, young to old, and patient to OCD – “I can’t sit still a single minute while India is out there to be discovered!” Kathy is a sweetheart and I know from her warm and welcoming smile that the children and sisters must love every time she returns. John and Asha are the cutest couple from Arizona. Individually, John is patiently awaiting anything us women throw at him, teasing him along the way as the token male, and he simply nods and smiles and does what he is told to do. Asha is as friendly and helpful as a volunteer can get. She has a charming personality and a wicked sense of humor. She reminds me of previous trips since as soon as I arrived without any luggage, she insisted I wear one of her pants and think nothing of it. The joys of sharing personal belongings with complete strangers reminds me of kindergarten, and also how if everyone in the world was always like that, we wouldn’t have any wars, fear, or hate, which we are all here to prevent, and spread love and joy to the world. Then there is Shelly. I can’t even begin the comparisons of how much Shelly reminds me of Jodie. She is bright, happy, charismatic, excited over every second of life, and as soon as she walks through the door at Assisi, the children surround her because they realize within only one day that she is playful, goofy, and loving. I know for sure that we will have plenty of adventurous stories to tell!

I can’t even begin to describe how relieved and overjoyed I was to see Stephen at the airport. Seeing Sheeba half asleep upon arrival to the guesthouse was even better. I felt at home again. The morning was off to a busy start with John and Kathy being asked to stay late until 1pm at SEAMs and Grace School, and me, Asha, and Shelly running off to Assisi home. Kathy had a productive day with the teachers and her arms were practically pulled off for her to stay all day with them. She says that the teachers take out her hair clip to play with her hair and the children ask if she is wearing contact lenses since her eyes are green. John is hinting at Shelly for a back massage after lugging around 3 laptops to SEAMs and bending over for hours, teaching the children new programs with Excel. Asha, Shelly, and I experienced the usual exhausting but extremely rewarding tasks of running, playing, falling over, jumping, shouting, kicking, singing, and screaming about sharing, events with the beautiful children at Assisi. Sister Rose practically threw me on the ground when she saw me, scolding me as always for playing with the children before saying hello to her. Her stern but charming personality warms me inside every time. John, George, Sophia, and Jasmine were as beautiful but naughty as ever. Just as typical children, they still argue over toys and fight for volunteer attention. Mario is still as cute as ever with his gorgeous smile, and Asha was completely taken over by Augustine’s sweetness, as he runs around helping the other children and sharing all the toys. We started off with nursery rhythms, and then Shelly taught the twins Danny and David how to play frisbee, I then played cricket with David, and Asha discovered how bright Davi is when we covered the alphabet, numbers, and first words with the children. After lunch Kathy rested while Asha, John, Shelly and I walked down the main road. I bought the few essentials I needed to survive without my luggage and it was entertaining trying to describe a hair brush to the local store owners. Shelly had girly mall madness and bought a beautiful sari, as well as nail polish to share with the girls at SEAMs. As usual, it was overwhelming to see my lovely children at SEAMs, all of them fighting for attention and asking me “Sister, what is my name?” to test how well I remembered them. John, Asha, and Shelly did their lessons while trying to control the other rambunctious children distracting the younger students. I first had a group of third graders, with Raji and Arun being the smartest of the four. Ammu is new to the orphanage and she is very sweet, and catching on very quickly. My second group was fourth graders with Franklin and Mukesh being the smartest. I found a great activity which combined addition with color recognition, as well as having to read the English words of the colors and instructions. The time flew by as we completed each activity.

We then came back to the guesthouse, talked for hours with Stephen and Sheeba about previous teams and the exciting personalities of volunteers. Even with the cold showers, the hot rooms, the pants that never fit quite right, my Italian afro hair going wild with the humidity, there is no other place in the world I would rather be right now. Since India is my home away from home, my quote for the day is “Home is where your heart is” by John McLeod.


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Monday, 20 December 2010

Quote:: by stretching yourself beyond your perceived level of confidence you accelerate your development of competence. - Tony Buzan

Day 1 accomplished! The morning kicked off early with an 8AM breakfast. Shelly and Asha spent the morning at Assisi’s and I was assigned computer training at SEAM’s. My time with the kids was impressive and exciting. They were thrilled to work with computers and eagerly started opening programs and pretending to have work to accomplish. We began with basic typing skills, to both familiarize them with the keyboard and sharpen their written English. After their eyes started to glaze, it was on to Excel for some brief training creating graphs and visual displays.

The girls reported that their time was spent playing games with the kids at Assisi’s, taking photos and singing. The volunteers reconvened for lunch and then shopping in the afternoon. Shelly and Asha found multiple Indian outfits, with varying colors and textures, while I found an Indian team cricket polo. We are sure to look like locals.

In the evening we returned to SEAM’s for group work. Again, I spent time with the older kids focusing on computer use and the girls spent time working with flashcards, games and songs. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience, including the kids. They are thankful for the smallest bit of attention, naturally, being one in a group of 39.

I truly appreciated my time with the kids and hope that they learn something of value.


Sunday, 19 December 2010
"The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die for a noble cause and the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Catcher in the Rye
We got our first taste of how easily things can change today. Our project leader got called away with an emergency right before our orientation started. There was a boy in the school that had suffered an injury and he had to take him to the hospital. So we didn't start orientation till after lunch.

In orientation we were asked to state our goals for the trip and it was interesting to learn how similar our goals were to each other's. It truly feels good to be surrounded by people that want to help change the world.

We went to Seam's to meet the children and luckily we got there just before it started to pour rain. They introduced themselves one by one, some were eager and some were hesitant. I tried really hard to understand their names but after they were all done I couldn't remember even one! They sang some songs which was really lovely and I could hear some very strong voices above the rest. We had some free time with them which I spent mostly dancing or spinning them around. The girls were very excited by this and soon they were fighting over who was next... I left sweating.

Afterwards we went to eat and I finally got to eat lamb rojangosh in India! The food was wonderful and full of flavor. I look forward to learning more and nervous about my first day working.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Spring into Service" in India!!

“Spring into Service” with Global Volunteers to receive a special limited discount offer for our March and April teams!

Four or more volunteers who apply by January 31 for any of these 28 teams in 16 countries will receive a discount of $200 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for one-, two- or three-week international programs or $100 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for USA programs. No other discounts apply.

Please encourage others to volunteer in our five fundamental project areas: education (especially promotion of girls education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, child care, and food and nutrition.

Call us at 800-487-1074 for details and we'll assist you every step of the way. Our worldwide host communities can’t wait to welcome you!!

Check out this link for more details & service program dates:

India Service Program Dates, March & April Team:
26-Feb-11 to 19-Mar-11

Friday, November 19, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from October 31 to November 12

95 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 3 volunteers and 95 Hours of preparation time

40 Hours of Childcare by 2 volunteer. over 65 students impacted

2 Children's Homes, 2 Schools and over 140 students impacted.

October 31, 2010

Quote: Today I see God reflected in every form

As we started our first day of the program, I began to understand the importance of the work of Global Volunteers. I love their philosophy and am excited about working with the children. I am aware how every drop of kindness and love can make a difference in a child’s life.

Steven is a great team leader and is so welcoming and supportive. We drew up our goals and made a list of what characteristics are needed to be a good team participant. We are all wanting to be open minded, accepting and to serve.

I like that we will be discussing our days, going over what worked well and talking about where we might need support. Steven has made us feel very comfortable.

Tonight we visited the SEAM home and met about 40 children. Looking out at their precious faces as they sang to us, I felt my heart open. These children were so appreciative of our presence and so proud that they had new sleeping quarters thanks to Global Volunteers. They had to show us every room and every bathroom. Before the building was constructed they had been sleeping on the floor all in one room. Each child came up to us, introduced themselves and told us their name. They really know quite a lot of English.

I feel comfortable here, feel there is support for us to make this a meaningful experience.

Wonderful extras are: talking with Sheba, Steven’s wife about all sorts of things, being with their 2 yr old, doing yoga on the roof each morning, eating wonderful tasty food and passing the resident bull on the street each day.

November 1, 2010

Quote: To the man of goodwill, all the world is home. -Socrates

Our day began with a yoga class on the roof of the guest house. Barbara, Marilyn, and Ruthanne stretched and relaxed in preparation for our first full day with the students. After a delicious breakfast, the team went to their teaching assignments. The first off was Ruthanne who spent the morning with three classes—5th, 4th, and 3rd graders—at Grace Nursery and Primary School. Ruthanne brought along a world map and the students were fascinated by how far she had traveled from Chicago to arrive in Chennai. Ruthanne and the students played games, talked about sports and other interests of the students, made words out of Srabble letters, did a little math (factors and prime factors) with the older students, and decided what they would work on tomorrow.

Marilyn and Barbara left a little later to work with 20 youngsters (two to four years old) at Assis Illiam. Their morning consisted of playing games, singing songs, and coloring and drawing with their children.

After a delicious lunch, the team set off again, this time to different assignments. Marilyn and Barbara went to Grace Nursery and Primary School to work with Ruthanne’s students from the morning, and Ruthanne spent the afternoon working with three novices at St. Joseph’s School to help them improve their English. These students are quite advanced in their knowledge of English. Consequently, Ruthanne asked them to decide if there is any area they would like to focus on—pronunciation, grammar, contractions, etc—with conversational English as the ultimate focus.

After a scrumptious dinner, everyone set off for SEAMS (South East Asia Mission) to work with small groups of students for an hour of conversational English. These young people in particular are so kind and so interested in learning that it is a special joy to spend time together.

This was only our first day with our students, but Marilyn, Barbara, and Ruthanne are truly delighted to be part of the 95th India team and are eagerly looking forward to tomorrow’s challenges!

November 2, 2010

Quote: On this path of Life, may our journeys blend.

This morning, the team and host family enjoyed a delicious breakfast and met Stephen’s mother who came to visit her grandson.

Then, Ruthann went to Grace Primary School and taught 1st and 2nd graders. She had them converse and engage in English conversation.

Barbara and Marilyn went to Assisi Illam and spent time with the 2-4 years olds. In groups of four they read to the children. The children sang songs and drew some pictures.

They also talked to Sister Rose, the person in charge of Assissi.

1. In the afternoon, Ruthann went to St.Joseph’s School and taught advanced English grammar to three of the novicites,conjugating sentences. She also taught them advanced conversation.

At Grace Primary School, Barbara and Marilyn took turns teaching 4th and 5th graders. Barbara taught both grades English Grammar and helped them spell and pronounce certain words.

In addition, the children also played Hang Man using English sentences. Marilyn taught some art and English conversation with the same students at opposite times. She told them about her life in America and the children asked questions in English. She also taught them English Grammar.

We came back to the Guesthouse to drop off supplies and pick up new ones before going to SEAM orphanage in the evening.

Ruthann worked with the girls aged 8-10 and they did some magnificent art work. After sharing their individual art, each girl wrote in English all the words they knew.

Marilyn worked with a group of teenagers and they did some amazing art also. They made “puppets” and conversed in English.

Barbara worked with a group of boys aged 10-11 . They wrote their names on paper and then with tiles. Each boy made English words from the tiles. They wrote the names of the members of their respective families. They enjoyed looking at the pictures Barbara brought from California. She showed them a map of the world and where she lived. Then the boys read a book together.

We went to an excellent restaurant for dinner, followed by shopping for teaching aids and supplies.

All in all, it was a wonderful , productive day in Porur.


November 3, 2010
Quote: Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.

--Emily Dickenson

Today, Marilyn, Barbara, and Ruthanne repeated their schedules of yesterday teaching English at Grace, Assisi Illam, and St. Joseph with one exception. We ended early and went SHOPPING at the Government Store. The store is filled with art objects, clothing, jewelry, furniture, teas, and on and on. Ruthanne actually finished her Christmas shopping there. Because of our shopping spree, we arrived late at SEAM but still spent a full hour with the children.

Our meals at the Guest House continue to be delicious. The children continue to inspire us. And our joy continues unabated.


November 4, 2010
Quote: Humble living does not diminish. It fills.Going back to a simpler self gives wisdom. - Rumi

Today is Thursday. We have been here in the program for 5 full days now. So far it’s been a week filled with:

Precious little children

Singing and dancing

So full of wonder and excitement

Books, songs, finger puppets, drinking from the coconut

We are auntie, sister and mam…..

Love given, love received.

Everyone is getting ready for the holiday tomorrow, Diwalli. The children are all excited. Grace school did not meet so after spending the morning at the daycare we spent more time at SEAMS watching the children play games and then going to our small groups. My boys were totally fascinated with my camera and had so much pleasure taking pictures of themselves and everyone else. We also painted and they really enjoyed that. We are always greeted with such excitement and enthusiasm it is a joy to be there.

An extra treat was walking through the town to go shopping for Indian style clothing. It was truly an experience…cars, motorcycles, horns, many people ….fireworks stores….sparklers and fireworks already bursting into the holiday. Our gracious host Steven had a lot of patience to take three women through the crowds to go shopping. It was appreciated.
Another wonderful day.


November 5, 2010

Quote of the day: Wealth in the vital comes willingly to generous natures. - The mother

We started our day by doing yoga on the terrace. Today is the second day of Diwalli, the biggest holiday of the year. To celebrate, the Indian people buy new clothes, make sweets in the early morning and mostly light off lots and lots of firecrackers. Almost every house has firecrackers to light off. They are LOUD. So, doing yoga to the sounds of the firecracker blaring in air and the loud caws from the crows who don’t like the noise; was an experience I will probably only get here in India.

The whole team went to Assissi Illiam this morning because schools are out for Diwalli. Instead of working with the day care children, we worked with the residents of Assissi. To walk in and have 25 children (whom we were meeting for the first time) welcome us with happiness, joy and love is truly a heartfelt experience. Everyone sang songs, did puzzles, colored and read books.

In the afternoon, Ruthann went to St. Joseph’s to continue teaching advanced English to the noviciates. We went to SEAM later in the day and the children were full of Dewalli happiness. Some had new clothes, some had visits from a parent. In all directions, one could see and hear the firecrackers. All 40 children watched a movie on a 8X10 laptop. To see these children crowded around a small screen enjoying themselves and getting along was truly amazing. Some sat on our laps and I started to “get” what being in India is about for me. It is about unconditional LOVE. I am surrounded by children who give me this gift everytime I see them.

I experience unconditional LOVE from every child I meet. These are children who are happy, joyful and soooo happy to get a pen or a notebook. They are polite and really want to learn from the global volunteers.

Ending the day, the team met with their respective small groups and it was somewhat a challenge to control their holiday spirit. Marilyn was teaching her group of boys art and they got creative and used the paint containers and brushes for “musical instruments” My group wanted to see what all the noise was, so the two groups did some dancing, singing and celebrating.

I brought my kindle and Ipod to show the boys.. Their faces light up at seeing anything I bring them to see or use. Our hours tonite at SEAM are a great ending to a wonderful week.


November 8, 2010
Quote: History says Don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime,

The longed for tidal wave of Justice

Can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

-- Seamus Haney

After a very rainy Sunday and a water-born cyclone last night, which fortunately did little damage, the day began bright and sunny. Unfortunately, one of our team, Marilyn, was under the weather and really needed to take a day of rest. So Barbra and Ruthanne bravely soldiered on without her. Because the schools were closed, thanks to last night’s cyclone, Barbara and Ruthanne spent the morning working with the residential youngsters at Assisi Illam. The morning was fun but a tad chaotic.

Marilyn was well enough to join us for lunch but was still suffering some cold-like symptoms and for her own health and that of the children, she decided to rest in the afternoon. Barbara had the early afternoon off, again because of the school closure. Ruthanne returned to St. Joseph’s to work with the novices, today on the fascinating subject of the present and past perfect tenses. She gave her three student’s an exercise to complete which she evaluated back at the guest house. Her students really have an impressive grasp of English. Tomorrow the grammar lesson will focus on the future perfect tense.. The grammar subjects, while quite boring, are the subjects with which the students asked for help.
Later in the afternoon Barbara and Ruthanne returned to SEAM to work with a new group of students. Barbara had a new class of boys and Ruthanne had a new class of girls. The kids drew pictures, worked on puzzles, and communicated to the best of their ability in English.

Dinner followed delicious as usual followed by a discussion of whether we are meeting the goals we set for ourselves during orientation and whether we are an effective team. Marilyn,,Barbara, and Ruthanne agreed that we are meeting our goals and modestly concluded that we are an absolutely splendid team. After dinner, we spent a lovely social hour together with Stephen, Sheeba, and Rosjhen and then toddled off to bed to prepare for another challenging and fulfilling day.


November 9, 2010

A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with—a man is what he makes of himself. - Alexander Graham Bell

WHO LEFT THE COWS OUT? Yes, cows….not dogs. Almost any street in India has cows “hanging out” They return home at dark. No one bothers them. This is part of what makes India, India.

School was back to normal today,so, Ruthanne went off to Grace Primary School in the morning, while Barbara went to Assiss Illiam. Marilyn was still not well enough to work today.Ruthanne taught the noviciates in the afternoon. Their grammar is vastly improving with her wonderful teaching skills.Barbara went to Grace and taught English to 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in two different sessions.

In the evening, the team went to SEAM and met with our new groups for the second day.

It still amazes me how happy these children are when we arrive. Their faces light up in a way that is so endearing. They greet us, shake our hands and want to carry anything we bring with us. They are genuinely hungry for knowledge. We ended the evening with a wonderful meal at a local restaurant. Spending time with the children, the team and especially the host family, makes me grateful to have this Global Volunteer experience here in india.


November 10, 2010

Quote: Is it possible to live a truly Christian live in an affluent society? If so, how?

The day began-- as usual-- with a delicious breakfast. Marilyn is still suffering from her cold-like illness and decided --for her own sake and that of the children-- to take the day off. Barbara set off to Assisi Illam to work with the day care children. She had a great morning except for a few piddle problems. Ruthanne spent the morning with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Grace School working on identifying and pronouncing rhyming words following yesterday’s work on plural nouns. After lunch, Barbara taught 4th and 5th graders at Grace School while Ruthanne worked with the novices at St. Joseph’s on English pronunciation. Later, with Marilyn feeling almost recovered from here illness, Barbara, Marilyn, and Ruthanne spent an hour with the children at SEAM. The children at SEAM offer us a special joy: they are so open to learning and so full of affection.

Dinner was followed by a relaxed social hour. Barbara and Ruthanne decided not tso venture into Chennai as they had planned to attend a performance of Indian classical dance and instead watched an earlier performance on Stephen’s computer.

Our Global Volunteers sojourn in India is winding down. We are having a grand time and are beginning to regret not having signed up for the three week program!


November 11, 2010

Quote: The highest form of spiritual practice is our relationships with one another.

Today is Thursday our next to the last day with Global Volunteers. This morning Barbara and I had the pleasure of watching the little children at the day care center dance to music played on the CD player. Then Barbara and Sister Rose did a spontaneous dance that was fun to watch. As always the staff is so generous serving us warm oatmeal or tea or this morning patties made out of plantain flour. We continued to work with our small groups and the children looked at books and learned numbers and colors. Ruth worked at Grace school with the 4th and 5th graders teaching them verbs, past, present and future.

In the afternoon we were treated to a special excursion to the cave where St Thomas lived and then to the site where he was martyred. It is a very holy site in India and one that is not often mentioned to the tourists. It was a memorable experience.

In the evening we worked with our groups at SEAMS. I gave the girls choices of painting, using colored pencils, reading books and writing sentences. They really enjoyed the activities. Barbara continued to work with her boys and Ruth had a group of girls. As always we just loved being there.


November. 12, 2010

Quote: What you are is God’s gift to you; what you make of your life is your gift to God.

As the Team ends their time here in Chennai, it is with mixed emotions. Glad for the time spent and the joy the children brought us, sad to be leaving such wonderful Gift’s from God.

Today, Ruthanne went to Grace Primary School and had fun with the children to reward them for all of their hard work these last two weeks. She had them draw and play hang man. At Assissi Illiam, Marilyn and Barbara worked with groups of four children. The children danced and sang and again, Sister Rose danced with Barbara. Sister Rose presented the Team with presents and then back to the guesthouse for lunch.

At Grace School in the afternoon, the children surprised Barbara with songs and pictures of love. There were tears and a sad good-bye from the children.

Ruthanne continued at St. Joseph’s and finished the book she was reading with the noviates.

Everyone went to SEAM in the evening and it was fun, entertaining and sad. The children are so happy and affectionate with the TEAM, it was hard to leave.

Tonight, Ruthanne leaves for America, and in the morning, Barbara and Marilyn leave for a 16 day journey through India.

How to sum up this experience: How do words explain the joy one feels to serve and be received with such affection? I can not find any. I will end knowing I have memories to last a lifetime and truly hope to come back some day and work with these children


Vote for Global Volunteers!

From November 15 - November 21 the Star Tribune newspaper is holding a contest entitled 'Full Page Project' amongst MN non-profits and the winner will receive a free full page ad in the paper!

Please vote for us this week ~ you can vote once per hour!

Here is the link where you can register and then vote for Global Volunteers (please copy and paste the link):

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Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from October 18 to - october 22
 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. over 65 students impacted

Monday October 18, 2010 – Day 6

“If you can drive in Chennai, you can drive anywhere!” – Sheeba

Today began our final week in Chennai. We reviewed our team goals and feel comfortable with the progress we have made so far. One of our team goals was to travel with purpose. I know that Laura and I are making a positive difference in the lives of these children, the same way that all of the previous volunteers have. Sheeba shared with us today the importance of learning English for these children. Students who are fluent in English upon graduation can easily find good jobs while students who only speak Tamil have a difficult time finding work. I am excited to know that my time here has been spent helping these children on their journey to become fluent in English.

Our second goal was to experience the culture of South India. We have definitely been experiencing the local culture during our stay here! This past weekend’s trip gave us a great opportunity to see more of South India as we traveled to Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, and Mahabalipuram. Tonight after SEAMs we got to experience Diwali shopping madness in Chennai at a popular market. The traffic was insane and the crowd was massive! Laura commented to Stephen that this market area made Times Square seem empty 

Our final goal was to meet and connect with the students and teachers. I feel that we are making good progress in this area. The teachers at Grace School have really taken to Laura and like to have lots of conversations with her between classes. The children are amazing! It is so great to see how their faces light up when we arrive to teach them.

I’m looking forward to a great second week!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010 – Day 7

“ All the world is an oyster” unknown

Megan was feeling a bit under the weather today so she sat out the morning visit @ Assisi Illam. I went off to Grace School and worked with the children as usual – today the first graders and I did rhyming words – Second grade we did some more difficult rhyming words and then they each came to the front of the class to come up with their own. The 3rd graders love to do math so we started with some Spiderman math flash cards – then identified all the visiable traits of Spiderman – each child wrote them on the board (including – he has a red mask, red boots etc). Fourth grade read aloud – Green Eggs and Ham (one of my all time favorites) and the 5th grade class each took turns reading a book called Grandpa and Me. Later at SEAMS Megan and I both worked with the boys at different age levels on various English studies. After SEAMS we were treated to an Indian movie – Robot. What another awesome experience – loud – colorful and with traditional Bollywood song and dance numbers! Even the popcorn was a lot of fun with chili pepper spice! Each day a new experience – they continue to keep on coming – what will today bring?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010 – Day 8

Time flies when you are having fun!

Wow, I cannot believe Wednesday is over already! This second week is going by so fast. It rained last night and now the humidity is out of control! It is even hotter today (if that is even possible). Before going to Assisi, Stephen and Sheeba took me on a quick visit to St. Thomas Mount. The view of Chennai from this hill was amazing! At Assisi we worked on alphabets and puzzles. Laura took the elephant puppet to Grace School for the little ones and said they liked it, although it scared them at first. The electricity went out several times at the school, making the heat even worse. Poor Laura got over heated, but was smart and stayed in her room to cool down in the A/C during the afternoon. I went alone to Grace School after lunch and found the kids to be very sad that Laura was not feeling well. They all really love her teaching them, which I made sure to share with her. In 4th grade we worked on reading and forming sentences with two sight cards at a time. The children did very well with this exercise and I was glad to see it made them use their imagination more. In 5th grade we learned about dinosaurs and colored dinosaur pictures for a bit, then moved on to practice vocabulary.

SEAMs was fun as usual. Laura worked with the older boys and I had my original group of 4th graders. I know we should not have favorites, but I must say that I really like this group of boys. We played snap card in teams, competing to see who could get the most matches. These boys love competition! Unfortunately for my team, I am not good at snap card, so we did not win very often.

After SEAMs we had the pleasure of visiting Stephen’s parents at their house for dinner. His mother and sister-in-law made a delicious meal for us. They served us so much food! Poor Laura was given a plate heaping with briyani! She ate like a champ but eventually had to give up  We were worried that it would be rude if we did not finish our meals. Luckily, Stephen and Sheeba assured us that it was fine to leave food on our plates. While we were in the neighborhood we had the pleasure of meeting Real Stephen’s wife, son, and mother-in-law. They live next door to their parents, so we visited their home as well. Rani lives across the street, so we visited her also. It was so nice to meet everyone’s family and to see their homes!

Only two days left before the end of the program! I’m already dreading saying good bye to the kids.


Thursday, October 21, 2010 – Day 9

“You make a living by what you do – you make a life by what you give” unknown.

Today started as most other mornings – with a hearty breakfast and off to our school assignments – I to Grace School and Megan to Assisi Ilam. The first second and third graders were very good today as we worked on various reading and writing activities. As each grade began to do some writing I started taking pictures of them – each grade turned into little models - posing – smiling and saying – me – me – photo! Even the teachers posed and smiled for their photos! Ive been happy to stay out of photos the last week in particular as Im not looking my best self (and I know what I look like). Megan mentioned her day care group had a difficult time focusing today. Maybe it’s the heat? (laughing). In the evening we visited the children at Assissi Illam instead of SEAMS. They were a great deal of fun – sang songs with Megan and loved the sequin crowns and butterfly wings I brought from home. And as always all the balls were a great big hit. I was treated to a Mendhi design on my left hand as a parting gift from one of the teachers! Well tomorrow is our last day – it will be difficult to say good bye to everyone (oh – except for those darn mosquitos)!


Friday October 22, 2010 – Day 10

“Don’t cry because it is over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

It is hard to believe that today is the last day. These past two weeks have flown by! It was hard to say goodbye to the children at Assisi today. We played games, sang songs, and danced! I took videos on my camera of Mario and Vinodinni singing their favorite song “Johnny, Johnny.” I tried to not think about the fact that it was the last time I would be with them. Laura had a good last day with the younger students at Grace School. They had fun posing for pictures for Laura but were sad to see her go.

Grace School went well for me in the afternoon. In 5th grade we read a story about a pumpkin competition and drew pictures. We ended the session by taking photos and videos. Each student wanted to do a solo dance for me to record. It was so funny watching the kids dance, each one was even more silly than the last. 4th grade was fun as well. We took pictures/video, practiced vocabulary, and finished off the class with “Hang Man.”

Saying my goodbyes to the children at SEAMs was very difficult. They are all so very sweet and special! During our time together we played ball with the boys, danced with the girls, and just spent time with the children. We then all gathered in the main hall for songs and dancing. The children all sang a group song, and then some of the girls came forward to do a song and dance. The 4th grade boys did a free-style dance for us at the end, which was very enjoyable. They took me by the hand and pulled me out of my chair to dance with them. I had such a great time! And then came the hard part. All of the children came up to Laura and I one by one to say thank you for spending time with them. I tried to hold back the tears but a few escaped. Some of the boys hugged me and wiped the tears from my face with their little hands, telling me not to be sad. While I was very sad to say goodbye to the children, I am so very grateful for the amazing experience I got to have with them.

Coming to India to work with the children has been so rewarding. The culture is so fascinating here, the people are so kind, and the children are so much fun to spend time with. To those of you reading this who are contemplating coming to India, I say pack your bags and get over here! You are sure to have a wonderful and memorable time!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from October 11 to - october 15

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. over 65 students impacted

 Children's Home's and over 65 students impacted.
 Sunday ,October 10, 2010 ,
 Day - 1 “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”- Gandhi

We had a great first day, started out with orientation after breakfast. Stephen walked us through the program, letting us know what to expect and what is expected from us. He explained the history of Global Volunteers in Chennai and why it is so important for volunteers to be here. During orientation Laura and I created our team goals for the trip: 1) travel with purpose to make a difference; 2) be open to the culture of south India, and 3) meet/connect with the students and teachers. We also listed what we felt were characteristics of an effective team:

• Flexibility

• Patience

• Open mindedness

• Open communication

• Understanding

• Supporting each other

• Having fun

• Punctuality (Stephen added this one )

We also found out what our assignment would be. I will be working with toddlers at Assisi Illam in the mornings, 4th and 5th grade students at Grace School in the afternoons, and all the children at SEAM in the evenings. Laura will be working with all grades at Grace School during the day, followed by SEAMs in the evenings.

After orientation was over we had some free time before lunch. I used this time to re-read the teaching handbook. Honestly, I am a little nervous about my first day of teaching. This is something I have never done before and I had no idea where to start in regards to lesson planning. Lucky for me, we have a seasoned volunteer with us this weekend. Dustin, from Team 93, is here until tomorrow. He was kind enough to give me some pointers and ideas, and also shared with me and Laura some of the activities he found were successful with the kids. I feel much better now about tomorrow (although I still do not have my lessons planned ).

We went as a team to SEAMs at 5:30 to meet the children. SEAMs is a quick walk from the guest house, which is nice because it gave us a chance to see more of Lakshmi Nagar, the neighborhood surrounding the guest house. We were greeted at SEAMs by the host and all of the children. The children sang a special song for us and came up to me and Laura one at a time for introductions. After that we had some quality play time with the kids. They are all so adorable and friendly! I am looking forward to spending lots of time with them over the next two weeks.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 2
“Excuse me sister – but how are old are you?” 5th Grade Student – Grace School

Questions, Questions – how different it is to experience a place/culture that actually wants to know about us. People really do care who are family members are – our current marital status and real hair color. But everyone is inquisitive – even the local people who stare as we walk along the crowded road – I wonder what they are thinking about us? Back at home its very easy to feel invisible – here we are really seen.

Today started with me heading off to Grace school and Megan to Assisi Illam. I felt pretty confident that I could handle whatever came my way having done similar work last year . Keeping the younger kids quiet is a challenge no matter where you are. I loaded the backback up with books – crayons – paper and flash cards. The goal is to get the kids speaking – reading and writing English – the way you do depends on the day – the kids – your energy level and patience. First grade – second grade – third grade – all went quickly and smoothly – having brought stickers – I knew things would be ok. Megan shared with us that her first morning wasn’t as easy – remembering those nursery rhymes, songs and dances didn’t come back to her as quickly as she had hoped but admitted she would be better prepared tomorrow. After lunch we went back to Grace School to work with the 4th and 5th Graders – more introductions – more stories and new methods of keeping the kids engaged seemed a bit easier. In my last class – we added up all the kids ages – family members and pets living in the house. The kids loved this exercise – afterall the class was 76 years old – with 99 inhabitants living in their homes! I have to admit that I was also excited about this exercise because It wasn’t planned. Once back at the guest house Megan and I admitted to needing some good ole American caffine and sugar to sustain us for the rest of the day – so off we went to buy the “forbidden fruits” of pepsi and chocolate. After dinner SEAMS was once again a joy as you walk in and are so happily greeted by what seems to be some of the happiest kids I know – who would have ever guessed that that were living in an orphanage. Studying math and reading for an hour with fun activities was admitted by Megan and myself. What a joy these kids are to work with despite the heat – humidity and mosquito bites. Early night – we’re both tired!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

 Day 3

To the world you may just be someone, but to someone you may be the world.

It was great to see how excited the children were to see us again at daycare and school! Things went better this morning at Assisi Illam, thanks to YouTube. I watched some videos of nursery rhymes after breakfast to help me remember the words and hand motions. To all of you future volunteers reading this blog, YouTube will be your best friend if you need help with nursery rhymes! Today at Assisi we learned about animals. Laura brought the cutest elephant puppet, which she let me borrow for the toddlers. They loved it! We also played the children’s favorite game: Juice Banana. It is like our “Duck, Duck, Goose” game but instead of saying “duck” and “goose” the children say “Juice Banana” as they tap each head. The kids think this game is hilarious.

Laura and I were greeted at Grace School by two girls who had written a note for us. The note was very sweet, telling us how the girls liked us so much. They also wrote that Laura has pretty hair and clothes (which she does ). I had a good lesson with the 5th graders, we worked on adjectives and sentence structure. The 4th grade kids were rowdy today compared to yesterday, but we still had a good time learning. Laura shared with me that she had a good time with the children also, but agreed that they were a bit rowdy today.

At SEAMs we had our same groups as yesterday, which made the kids happy. Laura had great success with a game she used yesterday with her group of 5th graders. I tried this same game with my 4th graders but found that they were not quite advanced enough for it yet. Instead we spent the evening doing math (their favorite thing to learn) and playing “Snap Card.” I am still not exactly sure what “Snap Card” is but it seemed a lot like the old game “Memory” that I played as a kid. Each time they picked a card, they would read the word on it by spelling it/sounding it out. Many of the words were new to them, so it was a good exercise

Over all it was a good day today. I am looking forward to see what tomorrow brings.


Wednesday – October 13, 2010

Day 4

“This is the first time Im doing anything like this and I’m worried that I’m not doing enough for the kids” Megan

Today started as the others this week – a hearty breakfast followed by our morning trips to Grace School and Issi Allam. The first graders were much more attentive today as one of the teachers reminded them that they are to keep quiet so mam could teach them. The second graders read a book called Five Scarey Monsters – sang a song about them and then drew a picture of their favorite one. The 3rd grade class did addition and subtraction problems all the way across the blackboard. Ive discovered the kids love to read in front of the class – answer questions – write on the blackboard and choose their own crayon color!

Megan shared that the day care children were back to their high energy state and she was challenged to keep them focused. But she will continue to reinvent and watch more YouTube videos for nursery rhymes.

We had a wonder traditional Indian lunch served on a banana leaf today complete with a local sweet called Ladu. The food continues to be wonderful.

Back to SEAMS late this afternoon – today I worked with the 4/5th grade girls instead of the boys. We read a book together on Ghandi and then they asked me to sing and dance. – I told them Id be happy to watch them (sorry to say I haven’t danced in public in years). Megan also had a great time teaching the basics to some younger boys and being impressed at how smart some of the kids are! Stephen reminded us that each volunteer is critical to the success of the childrens growth and development in English so we should ever think our contributions are small.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 5

“Did you put gel on your face?” – Ashley, 5th Grade at Grace School

To describe South India as hot would be a major understatement! I feel like I have been sweating non-stop from the moment I stepped off the plane. It amazes me how no one here seems to sweat though, except for me . A student today asked if I had put gel on my face, because it was so shiny. When I explained that my face was shiny because of the heat, he just bobbled his head at me.

Today was much better at Assisi due to the children being well behaved. We spent the morning writing the alphabet on the black board, reading books, and (of course) playing Juice Banana. I was called out as “Juice!” today and ran around the circle chasing little Vinodinni as she giggled. These kids are so cute and special. While I find them to be a challenge, I am grateful for every moment I get to spend with them.

Good day at Grace School with the children. In 5th grade we read about Helen Keller, did math, and played Chalk Board Chain. The kids really enjoyed this game and tried to come up with the most difficult words they could, to out-do the other students. We played the same game in 4th grade, but here the students were competing to see how many words they could come up with before settling on one to write on the board. In 4th grade we also read a story and did classmate interviews. In this exercise a student would come to the front of the class to be interviewed by the other students. Each student would take turns asking a question of the student being interviewed. This exercise was helpful because it pushed the kids to form questions/sentences in ways they do not usually do. By the end of the exercise the children were laughing, trying to come up with random and silly questions. Some of them had much broader vocabularies than I expected!

SEAMs was fun as always! I worked with the younger boys and girls again on their alphabets while Laura worked with the older girls. She brought princess crowns for the girls to play with, which they loved! Laura took some great pictures of the girls dressed up like princesses.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is Friday already! Time here is going so fast!


Friday, October 15, 2010 – Day 5

“ Love is shown in actions not words”.

Its Friday already – the week went quickly. Settled into the routine now and finding the children a joy. Discovered that Ive forgotten so many math equations and have to double check the answers before telling the kids if they are correct or not. Never met kids before who asked to do math! Its back to English and reading on Monday. Tonite we took all the balls to SEAMS – the kids were so happy and enthusiastic! A little too much so as we also saw several of them crying after getting hit in the face or head with a swift kick from a hard soccer ball or two. But it was great and they really enjoyed the break from studying. Off to Pondicherry this weekend for some sightseeing – Megan and I are both looking forward to it.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from   October 05 to - october 08.

48 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 2 volunteers and 49 Hours of preparation time

2 Children's Home's and over 65 students impacted.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” (Nelson Mandela)

Today we met the children at Grace School. All the students were eager to see us and we split up with Dustin working with forms 4 and 5 and Bill taking on forms 2 and 3. We met first with two of the teachers but did not get any guidance on what we should pursue. Accordingly, we did it on the fly (as seems to be the mantra here) although we had both been somewhat prepared for forms 4 and 5. The first day is difficult as we do not know what work has been covered or have any idea of the level of performance of any of the children. The two sessions went quickly and we had a brief break over lunch before heading back to SEAMS. Dustin worked with younger children on their English and Bill met with Shanthi, Surganyat, Kalibain and Rogesh. He worked on reading and reading comprehension. Neither was particularly successful as the noise level made hearing difficult. As noted earlier, the older children know the words and read just works, with no expression or understanding. Bill then jumped to Scrabble and the game progressed slowly with some assistance now and then. Rogesh understands the game but the other players seemed baffled. The game attracted a small vocal crowd and Bill can only hope that all tiles were recovered.


October 6, 2010

“Writing is good, thinking is better. Cleverness is good, patience is better. “

Hermann Hesse

Bill and I woke up early so we can have our regular Yoga session but apparently our Yoga instructor doesn’t work when it rains outside. So we were on our own…

With everything running a little late this morning we rushed through breakfast so we can make it on time to Grace School. We pretty much had the same schedule as yesterday. Bill will work with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders and I will work with 5th, 4th, and 2nd graders. Well today the entire 3rd grade class didn’t show up so we switched it up a little. I started with the 5th grade class. We practiced reading out loud and creating sentences. When time was up Bill and I got a quick break where we sat with Principal Esther and Teacher Selvi. They wanted to practice their English just as much as the children. They were very interested and Bill and my backgrounds. They asked many questions and we got to learn a lot about each other. After our break I taught the 4th graders. We practiced reading and writing and when time was up I finished the day with the higher kindergarten kids. We did all our ABCs, numbers, shapes, and colors. They weren’t part of the original schedule but they were a pleasure to work with. The Bell rang and it was time for lunch.

Bill, Stephan, Sheeba, and I all sat around the kitchen table and enjoyed a wonderful meal along with good conversation. There is always a new topic and something to learn about India from Stephan.

Back to SEAMs in the evening. We are coming down to our last few days. So I just stayed the course. I had Stephan split up the children and I worked with about 3 different groups on their English before time was up. Bill looked like he had a good game of scrabble going on the other side of the room.

We only have two more days left.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” (Albert Einstein)

Our tour of service is coming to an end and we have already started reflecting on the experience. We did what we could with such a small team and can only hope we had a positive effect on the children we had the pleasure and privilege to work with. Working at Grace School is challenging and exhausting but the children are eager learners, delighted to see us each morning and enjoying a break from the rigorous discipline that I sense pervades when the “substitute” shows up! I worked with forms 1, 2 and 3 today. Yesterday form 3 was not in attendance because of a “malady” or just because they were “absent”—take your pick. Dustin worked with forms 4 and 5 and then was introduced to the kindergarten, which tested his skills as an organizer and presenter. At the break we enjoyed another conversation with the teachers with them asking all the questions and the two of us giving all the answers. They looked at pictures Dustin brought and asked us to bring cameras tomorrow.

At SEAMS, Dustin worked with flash cards and at the chalkboard with the younger girls, which they enjoyed immensely. I took over the laptop and tried to get Shanthi, Kaliban and Rogesh to create a story. I wanted them to use their imagination and prodded them with opening sentences and ideas but they stuck to the basics of their life, school and study. I realize this type of exercise is outside of their curriculum but hoped against hope that they would seize the opportunity to let their minds wander far from SEAMS and the environment at home. The exercise was a bust. Hari bowed out without trying, as is his way; Kaliban got frustrated; Shanthi picked up her accounting book; and Rogesh stuck with me but managed only a few times to get away from the world as he knows it.

For dinner we went to the Grand Residence and enjoyed dining on the roof-top terrace. We also had a good laugh when they forgot to bring Stephen’s order of fish that came as chicken and failed to get dessert because they simply did not get around to dessert today!!!


"Everything happens for a reason."

Kendrick Cloud

October 8th, 2010
Well here it is my final journal entry for team #93.

Bill and I woke up and headed out to Grace School for our final day. Not knowing what to expect like most days, I packed the bag full of just about every teaching supply available.. I taught all 3 classes like a pro (well the best I could) and even let each class finish with coloring. At the end we sat with Esther and Selvi. Said our goodbyes and were able to take some photos. Unlike the kids at SEAM, the Grace kids were more interested in lunch then pictures.
So that was it! Bill and I completed all 3 weeks teaching English I’m an official Global Volunteer! There was only thing left to do is say goodbye to the SEAM kids. So in the evening we headed over to SEAM. They have done this many times but it was all new to me. I really don’t like goodbyes and really enjoyed the last 3 weeks at SEAM.

The kids had a going away celebration ready for us. They sang a few songs and even did a few dances. Bill got up and sang "This land is your land" and even put his own twist to it. We bought some cookies handed them out and spent the rest of the night just saying our goodbyes. Words cant describe the way this made me feel. I hope the kids learned just as much from me as I learned from them.

This was an amazing program and coming into this I did not know what to expect. It was probably better that way because we needed to be flexible and patient. That and a few other things to be the successful team we were. I have so many memories. Cows in the street, horns beeping, controlled traffic chaos, smiling faces, the heat and humidity, the list goes on. I met a young girl in the streets the 2nd day we were here and she was just so nice and welcoming, it turned out that she was one of my 4th grade students. I didn’t realize it until tonight when Bill and I shared some photos. And I will never forget my final day with Sophie at Assisi Home. It probably was day 14. She forced her way up to the second floor where I was teaching computers to the older kids and forced me to read flash cards. Well I shouldn’t say force cause I don’t think I could say noJ

I just wanted to thank all the children, their hosts, the local team, Bill, Global Volunteers, and all my friends and family back home.


Official Global Volunteer - India

"Goodbyes are not forever.

Goodbyes are not the end.

They simply mean I'll miss you

Until we meet again!"


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from September 27th - October 2nd.

48 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 2 volunteers and 49 Hours of preparation time

2 Children's Home's and over 65 students impacted

September 27, 2010

"Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones."

~Author Unknown

After a wonderful weekend in the temple town of Mamallapuram and night in Pondicherry it was time to get back to the children.

Well we had an extra guest last night. When we came home there was a raven flying around the 2nd floor. Instead of dealing with it, we let him spend the night on the chandelier and would let Stephan take care of it in the morning. Which he did.
Bill and I started our day with a Yoga session with Selva. I was tired from the weekend and I’m still trying to get over this sinus infection but I managed to get through it. We had a wonderful breakfast with Stephan, Sheeba and Roshan and then prepped for Assisi. Today we were meeting the kids that live at Assisi. This week they are on holiday break from school so that’s why we are meeting them for the first time.

You never know what to plan for until you have met the kids. I was on computers and Bill was on conversational English. Bill pulled out a map of Maine and the kids were just fascinated. The computer seemed to be distracting for the group because we only had one to work with and we were all in the same room. I managed to work with 5 different kids at all levels. Anywhere from “this is how you power on” to basic typing skills. This group was not as advanced as the SEAM’s group but my morning flew by.

Lunch brought me something different, bitter gourd. Well the name speaks for itself and I didn’t like it. Stephan said it was good for my health so I finished what was on my plate. Yuck. I did enjoyed the vegetable curry and cabbage!

Back to SEAM’s, this is our second week and we already seem like a couple of regulars. I got started quickly on computers and Bill with English. I was feeling like I’ve been neglecting the younger kids while I work with the older boys. So I asked Stephan to have a few of the younger children sit on the floor behind me and I would work on flash cards. It worked well at first but I think I added too much on my plate. After a while I just switched back and focused on the computers until time was up.

On the way out, the kids always run up say goodbye give handshakes or high fives, but one girl wanted to dance. So she stood on my feet as I danced around the room.

Monday mornings are a lot easier when you have smiley faces to wake up to. But every day here brings its new challenges, especially when I knew I would struggle with the teaching part of this program. We will continue to brain storm on ways to break through but will keep moving forward…


September 28, 2010

“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for the want of a little courage.” (Sydney Smith)

A new day and another adventure in service. At Assissi, I worked with the three girls I met yesterday and one boy. It was a bad combination in two respects: the boy is way behind the girls in development and the taunting and teasing that must go on between them was brought to the lesson. I struggled mightily but found it hard going. Nevertheless, it is difficult to try to hold back the brightest girl who is so eager to show her stuff. Patience is a virtue not yet in abundance. Dustin asked them over to the laptop and all but one refused!! Dustin ended his session and then played with the smaller children.

After lunch, Stephen the driver took us to the Government store to shop. Dustin did his best to bolster the Indian economy and I made a modest contribution. Then it was off to SEAMS for a rousing afternoon with that rambunctious group. Bill had the older kids going with word selection contests and Dustin slipped away from the laptops to engage the boys in “Hangman.” Rather than try to figure out the letters, the boys wanted to guess the words. Santhi was not feeling well and I had only Suganya who had to compete with the boys for space at the chalkboard. I think she felt pushed aside and I will speak to her tomorrow. Unfortunately, my sense is that this is normal male/female relationship in India, starting at a very young age.

For dinner, Stephen took us to the roof top dining area at the Grand Residence, where we supped on excellent Indian food with a view of Chennai. Tomorrow we are at the mid-point but we continue to try to develop a method to reach the children, particularly the older children. The rote system of learning has produced great minds and talent in India, but it is distressing to find that the children do not think and analyze and are at a loss to do much more than respond to yes and no questions and only occasionally do we see some attempt to work out an answer without reference to something already given to them.


September 29th, 2010

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
Albert Einstein

Well we made it half way through the program. We’ve come a long way in such a short time and I will try to soak as much as I can before its time to go.

Yoga started us off just right and like clockwork Rani had our breakfast ready after we finished. Then it was off to Assisi, I continued my routine with basic computers and Bill with English. Bill always has something new up his sleeve and whether it works or not he manages to get the children’s attention. Today he tried to make them create sentences. He first made them identify Subjects, Verbs, and Objects. It seemed like a good project and some of the kids eventually picked it up. I stayed the course with basic typing skills. The kids at Assisi have limited computer knowledge so we stick to the basics. It’s amusing to watch them because just before they stroke a key they look over to me so I can give them the approval. The morning moved along quickly and we were out of there before I had anytime for a quick game of “juice banana” or a nursery rhyme.

Back at the guest house Bill, Stephan, and I enjoyed a great conversation over lunch. Stephan is just full of information. He will take us from current events all the way back to 300 BC. It could be about - why the price of cashews are so expensive, why a woman may wear a toe ring or just about anything. It’s nice to just kick back and chat.

At SEAM's we decided to change things up a little because we have been with these kids every day since we got here. So we played a few of their Indian games. Bill and I joined for the first round of KOKO. Great game but exhausting. Next we sat back and watched the boys play KABABI. This game is a little rough so we sat out. We finished with dodge ball and in the 2nd round I was one of the final 2 left standing. Not for long, Hari caught me off guard and I was out.

Just when you think there is nothing more to do, Bill and I skipped dinner and headed out to the other side of town to catch a local traditional dance at The Music Academy. This dance is usually preformed at temple ceremonies and takes 6 years to master. The 2 girls who were twins put on quite a performance. They danced for 1 1/2 hours nonstop. I wish I could show you but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. It wasn't just the dance but their facial expressions, hands, eyes, just everything was amazing! Great way to get to the half way point…


September 30, 2010

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” (Dalai Lama)

Stephen let us go it alone at Assissi this morning. The children were just as eager to see us took turns at the computer and working on English with Bill. The older girls had other assignments and we missed their presence. We are finding great differences in reading skills. One boy in particular is able to say words from the flash cards but when he tries to read them, he cannot. On the other hand there is a little six year old girl that works well at the laptop and is able to read simply sentences. The children are fascinated with books and pictures, which I used to introduce words without worrying about the story. For example, the story of the Statute of Liberty kept their attention for quite a few minutes. Since age is not the reason for the differences, I assume there are other problems of significance of which I am unaware.

At SEAMS, Dustin took the older boys and worked on reading but Charlotte’s Web could not hold their interest. He then started on word lists and hangman. Bill worked with Suganya, Santhi and Rogest on difficult words from a story he planned to read with them. It was a rousing session. Just like the younger children, however, there was often a failure to recognize the words when they were in the sentences being read. We then had the two groups compete on word lists, which turned into a spelling lesson. The letter combination that had them stumped was “ea” as in reason and release. They simply left out the silent “a” even when coached! Once again, however, the boys’ highly competitive nature turned the girls away.

The undeniable highlight of the day was dinner with Stephen and his family. We had a beautiful meal; a smorgasbord of Indian delights prepared by Sheeba and Stephen’s mother and overseen by his father. Stephen’s mother is a beautiful woman with a most warm and happy smile. We felt welcome and were warmed by the experience. We stopped in to visit with brother Stephen and his wife and child and also with Roni, who greeting us with a delightful smile. We are fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to visit with this most hospitable family.


October 1, 2010

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. “


Yoga started us off just right and we had another wonderful breakfast. What a great way to start the day.

At Assisi there were a few more kids than usual. I started Sylvia on typing and then moved on to David, Asha, and finally V.Sandhiya. I’ve been working with Sylvia all week and at first she was very slow and unfamiliar with the computer. By the end of her lesson today, she was moving pretty quickly with her typing and she is only 6. With only about a half hour left, we found out that we aren’t going to be spending Saturday with the Assisi kids and today was our last day. So I packed up the computer so I could spend some time with all the children before we were off. We all headed downstairs and said our goodbyes. Time flew by the last 2 weeks at the Assisi Home. Bill and I were planning on having one more day but the children will be going away for a picnic tomorrow. They will all be missed.

After lunch we headed back to SEAM’s. I only had one computer to work with today so Hari, Kabilan and I reviewed Microsoft Excel. I showed them how to create basic spreadsheet and charts. When I was running out of things to show them we started creating a resume for Hari. We didn’t have power today so the laptop battery was dying so we will have to finish tomorrow. Bill continues to work with Suganya & Santi with their English. Time was up and we headed back to the quest house.