Thursday, September 30, 2010

Millinium Development Goals Achieved by this team from September 20th - September 24th.

25 Hours of class room instruction in conversational English and computer skills by 2 volunteers and 25 Hours of preparation time

20 Hours of childcare by 2 volunteer

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


September 19, 2010

"Your talent is God's gift to you. What you with it is your gift back to God." (Leo Buscaglia)

A busy day. Worked on individual and team goals. Bill and Dustin identified two team goals: (1) to better understand India and (2) to share talents with children. Of the characteristics of an effective team, patience and flexibility stand out. We are savoring fine meals so simply prepared by Rani. For team effectiveness they focused on flexibility and patience. Dustin was full of questions, as was Bill, about the work they would be doing. Stephen was patient, taking questions as he worked through the orientation. The challenges will be in doing service in areas that are completely new such as teaching English. Stephen explained that at SEAMS, the emphasis was to be on conversational English with the older children. Stephen suggested that Dustin, with his background in computers, would be of great help as all the children at SEAMS will be interested.

After lunch Dustin and Bill set out for a walk to learn more about the neighborhood and get a flavor for Porur. They strolled some back streets and then took on a major road with its highlights of colorful attire and ornamental architecture. On the other hand they fought against the wild traffic and the visual assault of construction and trash. There is a big adjustment to make as they compared national and local priorities. For a break from the heat and sun, they entered a clothing store, much to the surprise and wonder of the staff, which followed them closely around the store. Stephen had told us there were no parks but we found a virtual oasis behind a wall where two interviews were taking place. Bill thought it was a political party compound; later Stephen was not so sure!!!

At six, Stephen took Bill and Dustin to SEAMS to meet the Pastor Arul and the children. They were greeted with smiles and hugs and handshakes by the boys but the girls stayed away. Each child came and introduced themselves as Dustin and Bill sat rather awkwardly in the front of the all purpose room. The children sang two rhythmic pieces and the team got a tour of the new dormitory of which their guides seemed quite proud. Then the fun began with a mingling with the children. Bill started an arm wrestling contest and after both arms wore out he recruited Dustin. Of course, this was only for the boys as the girls stayed in a tight group, talking and watching. The team will be looking forward to engaging with the girls when they return for evening service.

For dinner Stephen took the team to a restaurant located off the main drag with a host of wait staff and many choices of Indian and Chinese inspired food. Dustin was an old hand at ordering but Bill looked to Stephen for help! All the dishes were spicy and flavorful and we knew we were in India. It was delightful to have ice cream for dessert to cool off the mouth.

It was an exhausting day. Back at the guest house, Stephen took his leave and Dustin and Bill worked on the laptops until both batteries gave up! That was as good an excuse as any to go to bed…


September 20, 2010

"Every person’s life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers." (Hans Christian Anderson)

Today we engaged the children at the Assisi Home. A wonderful new facility is home to many children and also serves as a day care center. The school age children are at school so Dustin and Bill set about helping the day care children with the alphabet and numbers. Several of the children know the alphabet when we sing but must think hard when shown flash cards out of order. Bill tried to introduce parts of the body using the vowels and parts that started with the vowel. He cannot report on the success. The children were young and have short attention spans. It was necessary to change activities often and Bill and Dustin will be looking out for signs that the tasks need to be changed. Also, because we are there the two hours before lunch, the children get restless and hungry in the middle of the work. We when shifted into a fun game of "juice banana" with chasing around the circle of children. It was fun watching the smaller children trying to figure out what was going on. The teacher then switched to songs with Bill jumping in to lead the Hokey Pokey, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Old MacDonald. Great fun but the team was ready for lunch and a nap before an evening at SEAMS.

We lunched on puffy bread and lentils and chutney; then Dustin and Bill retired for some needed rest. Tonight back to SEAMS to work with older children on computer (Dustin) and Bill on English. Dustin got going quickly and soon found widely disparate skills in typing and understanding the commands, but he had a lively audience and plowed ahead. Bill worked with one then two boys on conversational skills and filled in with grammar and sentence structure. After a break, Bill took up reading Charlotte's Web with two delightful girls. He helped with pronunciation and phrasing. It went remarkably well with many laughs and gestures.

Rani served up two kinds of rice, raw cucumber, carrot and tomatoes, okra and delicate fish. It was a welcome and relaxing dinner. We discussed the day and the difficulty of organizing work for the children at Assissi. The evenings at SEAMS seem to be the easier task…


September 21, 2010

Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.
(George Edward Woodberry)

Bill and I woke up a little earlier today to meet our Yoga instructor Selva Ganapathy. The three of us headed up to the terrace to get started with our first yoga session. Bill and I are first timers so Selva was asked to go easy on us. We began with some breathing exercises to get us relaxed and in the mood then we moved on to some stretches and yoga poses. Bill seemed to do great with the exception of the heat. I on the other hand can barely touch my toes so I did my best to get through each pose. This is our fourth day here and we were both over due for some much needed exercise. We asked Selva to return tomorrow so we can continue our yoga sessions.

After Yoga we headed right down stairs for breakfast because Rani had another wonderful meal prepared for us. This morning we had some new company, we were joined by Stephens’s wife Sheba and son Roshan. We all enjoyed Rani's eggs, noodles, and of course chutney.

After breakfast Bill and I got ready and prepared for our day at Assisi Home. This time I put a little more thought into how I was going to entertain the little 2 to 4 year olds. When we arrived the kids were happy to see us again. This time they didn't seem to be as shy. Bill and I separated a few of the kids in to two sides of the room and gave it all we had. I started with what I call "Dustin Says" and the GV teaching guide calls it "Total Physical Response Activity" The kids seemed to enjoy it. Then we moved right into our ABC's, 123's, Colors, Sight words, and anything else I could pull out of my bag. When they lost focus (remember they are 2 to 4 yrs old) I would get them to sign a song. We finished the session with coloring. I traced some pictures on blank sheets of paper because I didn’t have any coloring books and the kids colored them in. This was a trick Bill had showed me that he used on another trip. We switched up the kids and I repeated the same routine as I did with the first group. One of the girls in the last session was with me on the first day so she was very helpful in getting the other children involved.

Stephen and the Teacher Jessie brought all the kids together so Bill and I could finish with some games and songs like we did the day before. This time Bill and I were ready to take the lead with all 20 or so kids. We started with "ring around the rosy." They all loved that one. Then we moved on the all the other greats like The Hokey Pokey, Itsy bitsy Spider, ABC song, etc. Before you know it’s time to go. (All the kids waved and said their goodbyes and we even got swarmed with a bunch of hugs on the way out. With only two days at Assisi, it seemed like Bill and I were part of the crew.

We headed back to the guest house, where we once again were blown away from Rani's cooking. We had Beets, Vegetable Curry, and Chicken Curry (which I didn't eat) and of course rice.

Stephan, Bill and I headed off to SEAMS for our afternoon session. It started of pretty easy. Bill and I worked with 2 younger kids each and started off with the basics- ABC's, 123's, and sight words that we then used in sentences. Once the other older kids got back from school we headed in the great room where Bill and I separated in 2 different learning sessions just like we've done the day before. Bill worked with several different children reading and understanding poetry and I continued where I left off yesterday working with Microsoft Word on the computers. We started out by typing from a book, and then the kids would have to go and read though what they had just typed. After we spent enough time typing and reading, I showed each kid how to spell check, format, change fonts and color.

Today was another amazing day for me. At Assisi I'm called "uncle" and SEAMS I'm "brother". Even though it’s only been two days I really feel I'm connecting with most of the kids…


September 22, 2010

“Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.” (T. S. Eliot)

Yoga to start for Dustin and Bill and were introduced to new positions. Patience, patience as the Assissi. Dustin and Bill teamed up to change the routine for their assigned pupils. The differences between the developments can at times be frustrating. For example, today, I had a happy boy, always with a smile and eager to respond to the alphabet and numbers. I had less luck with shapes and colors. Next time was a somewhat wary sweet girl who just seemed bored or uncomprehending or simply too tired to participate. Of course, she woke up for "Juice bananas" and Ring Around the Rosie. We tried simple jigsaw puzzles with limited success. The young boy I mentioned eventually got the idea but the girl was mystified. Oh, well, just keep trying until you find something that clicks. So far, each day I have moved to coloring, no child seems to have any sense of form and just scribbles. They are fascinated with tracing a hand but do not yet have the concept of coloring in the lines. We were lucky to share part of the ride back with Sister Rosa, a remarkable woman. Stephen provided us the names of the people we have been working with (or near, since there has no instruction or advice from anyone except Stephen about what we should be doing or any hints about what works) and found curious the name of Sister Matilda. Mystery solved: she grew up in a convent, was married to Henry I, ruler of Germany, and returned to service of her Lord after his death. She is Patron Saint of Mis-behaving children and Patron saint of girls.

The evening session went smoothly. Dustin attracts a crowd with the laptops. Tonight he took some pictures with his spanking new blue Canon and had the students load the pictures. It was some fun and the pictures were great. Bill met with Suganya and Shanthi for continued with the reading of Charlotte’s Web. Suganya doubles her pronunciation at the end of certain words and worked on correcting the pronunciation. She does well reading. Shanthi tends to read words but is working on phrasing; she does not double endings, which is quite interesting. Earlier today they had an accounting exam and we worked together on a spread sheet for accounting entries in English and Tamil. Stephen helped explain what I wanted and then the triple threat of Bill, Suganya and Shanthi jumped in. When the wood smoke began to drift into the room, Bill spread out the Scrabble materials he had assembled and made and explained the game. While doing so, he realized how complex the game must see, particularly the concept of using an existing letter without ending up with a non-English word from adjacent letters. Suganya worked at it but did not grasp the concept. We will see if she is challenged to learn. Shanthi seemed to get the idea but needed some help. It is a difficult exercise in a second language but will be of help with written English. Bill then sat with the girls and talked about their families and India in general.

Stephen excused Rani for the night and we ordered in pizza. It went well with the Sprite for Dustin and the Coke for Stephen and the juice for Bill, which he picked up when he and Dustin made a quick trip to the Supermarket. They also brought home some peanut butter, a must have food item for the world to spin correctly on its axis…


September 23, 2010

“All great things are only a number of small things that have carefully been collected together.” - Anonymous

Today Bill and I woke up early so we can head out to the market. Stephan said it was one of the largest markets in Asia and I believe him. This place was insane. When we arrive there were just people coming and going. It reminded me of the NY stock market trading floor expect they were trading flowers, fruits and veggies. We started in the flower section and for the first time all week my sinus were cleared. Bill and I were taken back by the wonderful aroma coming from all the different flowers. Everywhere you looked there was every kind of flower. Stephan led us through a narrow passage way that passed multiple vendors selling all different fresh flowers by weight. He led us outside where we crossed over to another area, this was the fruit section. The funny thing is the first sets of Apples were from Washington State. I think this was the only western style fruit in the whole place but something to point out. I’ve only been here a few days but I started to recognize a lot of the local fruit (Sweet Lime, Custard Apples, etc.) Eventually we reached the last area which was the Vegetable section. By this time I was ready to go. Even though we weren’t there for shopping it was an amazing thing to see. All the vendors were friendly and Bill and I got a lot of photos. It was worth getting up early to see.

At Assisi it was back to business. Teaching English and when Bill and I got tired we moved to singing for other activities. When the kids tired out we switched up and started back from square one. We have one more day with these little ones so let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Back at the guest house I prepared for my evening at SEAM’s. Tonight I will try to teach the older ones how to create power point presentations. Now I’m no expert, so I brushed up on my skills before we headed out. I’m glad I did because even though it was basic, the kids really loved it. I used pictures from the day before and inserted them into the presentation. First I worked with Hari while I put some of the kids on the computers and started them with the basics. Hari caught on quick and before you know it he was putting his own twist on his presentation. Time ran out so he wants to finish it up tomorrow. After Hari was done I worked the Suganya & Santi. They were a little shy at first but together we winded up putting together a nice presentation for Bill.

Although challenging at times, today was a success! Rani prepared 3 wonderful meals and Stephan fielded all of my questions...


September 24, 2010

The last day of the first week. How far we have come: we got into a good routine at Assissi changing tasks, taking breaks. We both had new children first and that presented a challenge. One little girl with Bill was vocal and active, moving her chair first up and then back and then pulling the other child with her. Vocal does not mean she responded to flash cards, which she didn’t. We started the day with a “Happy Birthday” to a new four-year old. This is a moment to savor. We took a break and enjoyed a discussion with Sister Rose and Stephen about hearing aids, finding a mate and marriage. There are still arranged marriages in India and I imagine that group would be horrified with “hook ups” and co-habitating before marriage, in some cases, is even considered.

We then took on more children. Bill got his prize pupil who worked at the jigsaw puzzle but had no time for ABCs, which is in contrast to the prior day when he asked for ABCs. Then it was time for an arousing round of “Juice Banana” with Dustin joining and Bill recording the event. This was a fitting end to our week with the day care at Assissi.

Rani put out a smorgasbord for lunch and we dug in after needed showers. We had a good discussion with Stephen about the driving pattern in India, an oxymoron if there ever was one when describing traffic in India. The USA is tame in comparison. Stephen pointed out that the traffic is always moving ahead, no one worries about what is behind them, and the various conveyances are not traveling that fast.

At SEAMS, Dustin set up the boys with laptops and Bill worked on developing sentence structure and vocabulary. His two charges worked hard on the sentences but got the hang of the vocabulary task of listing words beginning with letter “A”.

Dustin and Bill are looking forward to their weekend away…