Monday, January 30, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

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

Chris and I headed over to SEAM’s with only one thing on our mind. It was to finish making the sand shifter. We have a big crew coming in next week and I didn’t want anything slowing us down… Last week the odds weren’t in our favor whether it was power outage, missing extension cord, or lack of proper supplies. Well nothing was stopping us today! Even after a fuse blew on our first cut, we were determined to finish. In the end, we succeeded and built the best shifter in southern India. We’ll see how it holds up next week…

During the afternoon break I decided to clean up the activity cabinet in the guest house before the new team arrives… There was so much random stuff in there and I did the best I could to straighten it up… Then I focused on finishing the SEAM’s children's profiles. We decided we would place each kid in 4 different categories based on there English abilities so that when future volunteers teach a SEAMs the will know where others have left off and where they should continue... After all that was complete a ran some errands and got ready for another trip to SEAMs

Today Chris and I finalized all the profiles, then spent the rest of the time reviewing the points system, and handing out some fruit. This has been something we’ve done the last few Fridays and the kids really seem to enjoy it. In the end everyone wins but they realize that it's important to keep their home clean and finish their chores. Room 1 won again this week and there has been much improvement since the program was started. The boys have yet to win but are gettin close.

Over the weekend I spent the my time looking all over Chennai for a blackboard for SEAMs Children's Home. This was a task I set out for in 2010 and finally found one. I went to a few stores then carried this thing back to the guest house by train,auto, and even crossed the main road without getting run over! I cant wait to install it this week...


Thursday, January 26, 2012

“On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain- either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Today was similar to those preceding it, except that Dustin and I went in different directions. I made my last trip to Assisi to complete work on the computers and I’m happy to say that everything went very well. Dustin made his way to SEAMs to continue work on the profiles. Following lunch we both headed back to SEAMs. After more than a week of work we are almost finished. The profiles will be immensely helpful for future volunteers. Based on the children’s levels we can group them in order to improve teaching efficacy. My hat goes off to Dustin for his brilliant idea with the profiles. Like me, he’s never satisfied with just the status quo and is continually searching for areas to improve. We ended the day with a delightful meal, though by the end we were all nodding off, a sure sign of a pleasant rest to come and a great conclusion to the day.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012.

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

Today I woke up pretty early and I headed downstairs for my normal morning coffee… Today I figured I would try to make coffee a little different by heating it using one of those hot plates. Well I turned it on and it started making some noises, so I put my hand over to see if it was hot. Well it was and I burnt the tips of 3 of my fingers (don’t worry mom I’m ok). I guess I was a little more sleepy than i thought.. Let’s just say if the coffee doesn’t wake you up this will… I escaped with only some minor burns and Sheeba came to the rescue. I’ll just stay out of the kitchen for a while especially after my incident last year.

At Assisi Illam, Chris continued with the computer project while I played with the babies… We read books, played with blocks and worked on some basic English skills…. The time moved quickly and they were some much fun. After they were fed and napping. Sister Rose had a wonderful lunch prepared for us of cabbage, beets, tomato rice, okra, French fries, and a few other treats. This was my first time having lunch over there but Chris has been talking about how great it was since I arrived. He was right, it was amazing!

After a quick break back at the guest house Chris and I worked at SEAMs. Our goal is to complete the profiles for each kid but I can easily be distracted when asked to play; snap cards, bingo, cricket, or just reading with the children…There is definitely not enough of me to go around and I just need to find away to make my rounds to each child… Chris and I are trying to learn all the kids’ names and I think we have about 85% memorized…

Just when you think the day couldn’t get any better. We finished the night off with dinner at a local restaurant with Sister Matilda, Sister Stella, and 5 of the Assisi children. Great meal and great company!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

 “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”  - Rudyard Kipling

 Today started with a great breakfast of omelets, rice cakes and spicy peanut chutney.  Then Dustin and I headed over to Assisi Illam.  We set up two computer stations yesterday and got everything up and running; however, we discovered that one of the computers, which was donated, contained some viruses.  So it was decided that we would wipe the computer’s hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows.  This was where things got interesting. Armed with my copy of Windows I assumed that the procedure would be a short and sweet affair. No such luck. The optical drive was damaged and not registering with the operating system, nor was the Ethernet adaptor functioning.  Only after taking the computer apart, editing the system registry and reconfiguring the Ethernet settings did we start to see any progress.  But by that point we had to call it quits and head back to the guest house for lunch.  I assured Sister Rose that tomorrow the computer would work better than it ever had. 

After a nice lunch, Dustin and I got a special treat.  Stephen’s mother Jamuna came to the guest house and gave us some South Indian cooking lessons.  We had requests ready for our favorite dishes and she was only too happy to show us poor white boys how to cook some real Chennai cuisine.  Most importantly, she demonstrated that the majority of dishes we have been savoring these past weeks start very simply with a wok, hot vegetable oil, mustard seeds, onions, curry leaves, and chilies. We told her that we would return the favor and cook for her one day soon.  That’s one critic I wouldn’t want to disappoint.

In the afternoon we went to SEAMs as usual.  This is the third week of the points system that Kerry and I crafted and the improvement is huge.  I’m stunned at how clean SEAMs is now compared with four weeks ago. I’m so proud of the children. We took a break from our usual routine to show the kids a movie.  I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed watching the Jungle Book so much. It was quite moving to see all of the little faces glued to the screen, clapping and screaming at the dance between Baloo the bear and King Louis the orangutan.  Back at the guest house we got to enjoy all the excellent food that Stephen’s mother had prepared during our lesson.  Just another wonderful day in Chennai.


Monday, January 23, 2012

 "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in
your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

It's the start of my third week and it still feels like I just arrived. Each week brings new and exciting things... On Saturday a few of the members from the last team headed back home. Diana and Candy
will definitely be missed. Even the Assisi kids looked shocked when Chris and I showed up this morning. I'm sure they were looking forward to all the balloons and other exciting stuff Candy brought the last two weeks... The construction is on hold this week so we will be working with the daycare kids at Assisi. Although, today we got a break from playtime and Sister Rose had us put together some computers. Afterwards she surprised us with homemade French Fries, yummy!

After another wonderful lunch back at the guesthouse I cut down my first banana tree with the help of Stephen and Sheeba. It went down pretty easy and I even cut out the trunk which we will probably be eating the rest of the week. I can't wait for the 150 some bananas to ripe...

In the evening, we stuck to our routine and headed over to SEAM's. Chris and I are working on giving each kid a profile based on their level of English skills. This will definitely help future volunteers prepare and bring the proper materials before heading over to SEAMs. After working with a few kids my eyes got heavy and I played a match card game with Sneha and finished the night off with B.I.N.G.O...


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