Friday, August 24, 2012
"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?" Albert Camus
This journal is especially hard for me to write as today was our last day (Friday August 24) with the children at Grace,
and SEAMs. Amanda, Gretchen and Sukhi encouraged the students to write cards
and color pictures at Assisi , Raja playfully lifted
the little ones into the air until his arms ached and I snapped photos and
stole hugs while fighting back tears. Sister Rose at Grace
School generously gave gifts to our whole
group and we shared them with our teammates when we arrived home. Though we've done
our fair share of souvenir shopping, we each have another little piece of Assisi
to take home with us. India
In the evening, we made our final trek to SEAMs and were greeted happily as always. We worked, mingled and played before the students were each given a balloon. When finally blown up and tied we had a balloon party! It was practically raining balloons as the kids shuffled around to keep them from falling to the ground. Occasionally we heard one pop, but most of the sounds were laughter, shrills of joy and calls for "sister sister" encouraging us to play. Afterward the boys danced for us (which we later learned is typically a funeral dance to lift everyone's spirits when feeling sad), everyone sang and they each shook our hand and encouraged us to "come again." We were also presented with special cards with each child's name inside (so now we know how to correctly spell them).
We came home and sat down to eat our final meal together traditionally: on a banana leaf using only our right hand. Raja and I were excited for the challenge, while Gretchen and Sukhi remained a bit apprehensive. As usual, dinner was delicious no matter how it made it to our mouths.
As our last day winds down, we are all dealing with a bundle of emotions (whether we show it or not). Some are excited to return home: to see loved ones, to take long hot showers, to eat our typical food; while others aren't quite yet ready to leave. Regardless, we have the past two weeks (three for Gretchen and Amanda) forever engrained in our hearts (and well captured on our cameras). Hopefully, we will follow in Amanda's footsteps and return to Chennai within the next five years (though I doubt any of us will be persuasive enough to convince our moms to join us)! I look forward to reading the blog to hear the experiences of the teams to come and to catch up on the children through stories and photographs.
To Stephen and Sheeba, there is no way we could show you how grateful we are for the experience you have provided for us. Meals will not be the same without the educational anecdotes and the introductions of new and exotic foods (especially the sapotas). You welcomed each of us to
, into your home and in turn
you both have a special place in our hearts. If/when we return, please know
that the two of you (plus Roshan) are responsible for that so rather than say
"goodbye" or "go go" like the doctors at the hospital, I'll
leave you with "see you again." India
Thursday, August 23, 2012
“Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will - whatever we may think.” –
Today was our second to last work day in the program, and I think we are all realizing that our time here is coming to an end – a bittersweet realization. Jenna and Raja got an early start to the day, visiting the Flower, Vegetable and Fruit market before breakfast, which they seemed to throroughly enjoy. The rest of us began with Stephen informing us that the power would be out in our neighborhood from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. today for routine maintenance. As it was 8:45 when we learned of this, we all scrambled to check our emails and send Skype messages one last time. I think this test of our “going with the flow”-ness may have been the most challenging so far – a sad commentary on our dependence on wireless and A/C.
Sukhi, my mom and I left for Grace as usual, as Jenna and Raja waited to go to
. We were happy to discover that Grace
was on a different power grid, and so the lights and fans were still on. Sukhi
and I engaged the children in games of Hangman,
Put-the-Animals-Back-in-the-Zoo, and other assorted activities. The first and
second graders were much better behaved today, as their teacher had returned
from being sick yesterday – she is essentially the Sister Rose of Grace and
knows how to get the kids back in line with just a look. My mom worked with her
kids on creating autobiographies, writing a number of true sentences about
themselves, and one false one, so that the other children had to guess which
was false. She was surprised to find
that most of the kids thought it was true that she had 20 cats. Assisi
We returned home for lunch, and Jenna and Raja reported a nice morning at
. Over lunch, we learned the history of
the Elephant God and the four ways in which he tells us to be successful –
tenets which I wrote down after lunch for later consultation. Assisi
As the power was still out, Jenna decided to join Sukhi at Grace in the afternoon, while the rest of us lay low, some of us literally, as I spent much of the afternoon reading and laying on my floor with a cold wash cloth trying to stay cool. Jenna had quite an introduction to Grace as she was thrown in to supervising three classes at once because the teachers were having a meeting.
As the power was still out when we left for SEAMs, today we actually looked forward to the cool fans in the main room at SEAMs. I worked with two of my favorite boys for the whole time, which was a nice treat. They showed off their climbing abilities as I nervously watched them scale the shelves and balance on the window frames. Jenna and Raja made use of the library upstairs with its newly installed fans.
After SEAMs, we went out for another amazing dinner at a local restaurant. In spite of being here for two or three weeks, we still seem to need Stephen to order for us, and he always does a great job. On our way home, we stopped off to get balloons for the SEAMs kids and mango ice cream for us. We returned home exhausted from another full day, as I think we are all trying to wrap our heads around the fact that tomorrow is our last day here. Even though this is my second trip here, I am amazed by the ways in which being here always opens my mind and my heart, which I will definitely carry with me.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
'"Do not say it is morning and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name." Tagore
Today, Wednesday, August 22 was a regular day of work although no day is regular for us volunteers. Each day brings new experiences, observations and reflection. Our breakfast was eaten without the presence of Stephen and
as we all
were wishing Stephen success with his eye surgery. After breakfast, Sukhi, Amanda and I went to Sheba
for the morning. Amanda was very happy
to have Sukhi work with her today as the regular teacher was absent so the two
of them had to deal with two classes at the same time. I was right next door and my own students
were sharing vicariously in the rather loud activities of the little ones. But they certainly seemed to be having a good
time. My own little group worked on some
alphebetical skills as well as some sentence writing. We ended with a game of categories which
forced the more eager ones to restrain themselves from speaking out of turn The winner was the one with the FEWEST
checks, not the most. I certainly
learned some new names when the categories were fruits and vegetables. As usual, the power went off at 11:00 so we
were in semidarkness for the last hour.
We are learning to take it all in stride. Grace School
Since we returned from Grace before Jenna and Raja, Amanda and I took a stroll around the neighborhood to take some pictures. An apartment building is going up right on the corner and we watched the men mixing the concrete and lifting it up to the roof. It was very hot As we walked along, we were a little self conscious but some wanted to have their picture taken. One group of men asked us to take a picture of a comrade who was sleeping in the back of their auto-rickshaw. They thought that was pretty funny. We passed the cobbler sitting on the corner with his shoes and the chicken shop with a cage of chickens sitting forlornly out front while inside we could see some carcasses being chopped up. (We noted coming back from SEAMS this evening that there had been six chickens in cages in the morning and now there were only two.)
Over lunch, we learned that Raja and Jenna also had spent a morning without power. Raja had had a tiring morning especially having to deal with a little one who did not quite make it to the bathroom in time. Most of the children at
are pretty well trained. After lunch
while Raja, Jenna, Amanda and I collapsed, Sukhi went back to Grace for an
afternoon of teaching. She took my 4th
and 5th grade students in hand and gave them a lesson on the rain cycle. At the end of the day, everyone sang the
national anthem and the students accompanied her out to the car. Assisi
We have only two more days at Grace but the experience there working with the students has been really rewarding. I am going to miss them. The experience has taught me how to work with much less than what I am accustomed to in the States. I have learned a lot.
Our day ended with our usual visit to SEAMS. The children were all asking for Stephen and
. They were their usual enthusiastic selves
especially little Stella. She craves
attention and one is torn between wanting to hug her and push her away. One important note is that Raja and Barnabas
were able to install fans in the new
library upstairs. Now with some tables
and chairs and books, the library will be open for business. Sheba
When we arrived back at the guest house, we were happily greeted by Roshon and were so glad to see that Stephen had had a successful if tiring day in the hospital. It was good to see him.
When I started to write today's entry, I was thinking that this was just an ordinary day so there would not be much to write about. I was wrong. Each day is special and there will always be so much to say Really, each day is like a newborn child.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
"you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go" - dr. Seuss
Our morning began like any other day, we seated around the table to enjoy another fabulous breakfast. After a nice long weekend we began our normal schedules. Though stephen thought we might have trouble adjusting back into routine, we all were overly joyed to get back into action.
Raja and Jenna planned their day for
Assisi, while I decided to join
Amanda and gretchen at . Amanda had warned
me before hand about the attention span of the little ones but nonetheless we
were both excited to get the day started. Grace
As we arrived at Grace school I wasn't too sure as to what to expect but I was certain of one thing, the kids would all greet us with their beautiful smiles and it was just that. Stephen then introduced me to the staff, who were welcoming with open arms. Gretchen quickly found her classroom and began her syllabus for the day. Amanda and I found our way to a room filled with the upper kinder garden kids who quickly sprung into action yelling "good morning miss".
As the kids were full of energy we started off with a few warm up songs like twinkle twinkle and heads and shoulders but the kids quickly sought out for other activities. Luckily Amanda had a alphabet exercise planned out but it didn't take long until we realized that we would have to do most of the pairing work. The kids just starred at us with blank looks on their faces. The language barrier Is probably our biggest challenge.
After the 45 minute classroom session we took a 15 min break where the kids enjoyed snack time and Amanda, Gretchen and I took a breather.
Our second and third period consisted of playing bingo with the 1st graders and sentence development with the second graders. This wrapped up my first day at grace school, but needless to say I am excited to spend my last days in
with these kids. India
We later returned back to the guesthouse where we enjoyed lunch, nap time and a awesome cooking lesson from Sheeba and rani. Thanks to the two beautiful ladies we are able to take a little bit of chennai back home with us!
While most of us took our down time, raja, Stephen and Jenna decided to head over to a local shop to purchase some fans for the library at seams, which will be neat surprise for the kids once completed! Then as per usual we ended the day off by heading over to seams where we all worked one on one with the kids, trying to spend as much time as possible with them in our last few days here in
I was told by a friend that "life's hardest lessons are also the most precious, because they force you to face your own weakness and fears and unleash hidden strengths you never knew you had" and working with these kids has given me a real life example for this quote. Though we all thought we were coming here as role models for these kids, I can truly say I am inspired by them each and every day and they have become a role model to all of us. Everyone will be greatly missed.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Quote of the day- "The most wasted day of all days is one without laughter"- E.E Cummings
It's Monday, August 20th, which means we are in the last stretch of our program. The thought of having to say goodbye to the kids is already becoming a tough concept to grasp. Nonetheless, our day started off as usual; breakfast at 830; however we were all exhausted from the wonderful trip and because of the loud bangs from the fireworks; which lasted all night. The fireworks were in celebration of Ramadan, and as a result of the festival it was a holiday for everyone; including the little ones at the day care. Gretchen decided to celebrate the holiday as well and stayed home to rest; as a result it triggered Sukhi to also stay home.
After breakfast Amanda, Jenna and I made our way to
to spend time with the older kids. Upon our arrival we saw Vijay, on e of the
boys from the day care that has grown a close bond with Jenna, and even with
his mouth stuffed with food he blew her a kiss. Assisi
we were all invited to Stephens’s
parents’ house to enjoy a tasty and never-ending lunch, the only thing I wished
to have offered to me next was a bed. None of the girls were able to finish
their dishes and Jenna was surprised that I couldn’t go for seconds. We headed
back to the guest house to keep on schedule because after lunch it’s nap
time! Shortly after we made our way to
SEAM, this time Gretchen and Sukhi decided to join us. The kids greeted us as
always, hugs, handshakes and asking “color”? The power was out at SEAMS so we
all sat outside and enjoyed the older boys play Khabadi as we colored paintings
with the younger ones. Assisi
It’s hard to believe that only after a week we have all grown so close with the kids, at both SEAMS and
, and also with each other. The trip
has been like the containers of Rani’s food, unexpected but always
Saturday – Sunday, August 18 - 19, 2012
“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” – Fitzhugh Mullan
This weekend (August 18-19), we embarked on a weekend journey to see a bit more of
Originally Stephen had an important doctor's appointment that would have left us on our own, but luckily he was able to reschedule and join us. He really has filled every role for us since coming to
he educates us on the history, culture and customs, serves as an interpreter,
and even helps me make important decisions when faced with a vast menu of
unfamiliar choices. He also knows everyone, which leads to some really amazing
opportunities we couldn't have experienced without him. India
We were all at the breakfast table bright and early Saturday morning, where we ate quickly and reviewed our travel agenda (Kanchipuram,
Auroville and Mahabalipuram). Our bus and driver were awaiting us around the
corner and we all found a seat and settled in. Pondicherry
Unexpectedly our first stop was the memorial of Rajiv Handy in the spot where he was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers in 1991. After walking through the memorial, in between the 7 pillars and gazing up at the largest national flag to fly in
, we reboarded the bus for
history lessons and intermittent naps. India
Kanchipuram, or the city of thousand temples, was just that! At the first temple, our newness was still showing as both Raja and I were handed flowers by a lady standing outside who would not accept our refusals. She ended up following us past the outside wall and informing us of the 20 rupee notes we owed her on our way out. The same lady managed to hand Gretchen a handful of fish food and Sukhi was encouraged to buy leather slippers both as we entered and exited. They sure know how to profit off the visitors. The temple itself was beautiful and we observed the correct way to confess ones sins prior to entering (which we as non-Hindus are not allowed to do), and it was here that we were affirmed just how lucky we are to have Stephen as our guide because we had the opportunity to climb up and sit on one of them temple's elephants! We climbed up the 40 year old elephant's raised leg one at a time and posed for photos atop her back. The coarseness of the elephant's hair was shocking for most of us, but was quickly overlooked. Definitely the highlight of the weekend for me! After our other temple tours, we boarded the bus with dirty feet/socks and saw firsthand how silk is woven into saris. Both Raja and Sukhi bought saris (but luckily not both for themselves), while Amanda and I perused the scarves and Gretchen found a beautiful table runner.
The next stop was our destination for the night:
a former French territory. Though Pondicherry Pondicherry
still looks and feels like you're in , the French influence was
apparent (especially in the India French
street names). The air here felt cleaner than
we've gotten used to (though the smell coming from the Bay of Bengal as we
walked along the boardwalk was not so pleasant) and the streets were cleaner as
well (perhaps due to the large billboard encouraging visitors not to litter).
Dinner was enjoyed at a Vietnamese restaurant (with French offerings) and the
first rain greeted us as we tried to walk back to our hotel. Stephen warned us
of the danger of the first rain, but we took our chances (mostly because
Stephen told us of a Baskin Robbins on the way and we all wanted ice cream).
That night we enjoyed long hot showers, but not the rooster or crying baby that
seemed to wake everyone up a little too early (with both Amanda and Raja
feeling sick). Before leaving
Sunday morning, we visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which was a very peaceful
experience as there is no talking that goes on past the entrance. Our walk
through was brief, but served as a welcomed calm before resuming our bumpy
Next we arrived in Auroville, an experimental township whose purpose is to realize human unity. After exploring the Visitor's Center, we watched a brief movie on the creation of Auroville and the building of the Matrimandir (a golden sphere for members to "find one's consciousness"). Then we walked along a long path to a viewing point where we were able to snap photos (including one of Raja posed as if he were supporting the structure from the side). The walk back was long, hot and exhausting enough to allow ourselves to be rocked to sleep on our way to Mahabalipuram.
I myself wasn't as excited for Mahabalipuram as I thought I'd be due mostly to the heat and the fact that we'd seen so many carvings at the temples, however Mahabalipuram was beautiful and the stories behind the structures (as told by Stephen) were fascinating. Though most are unfinished, I was surprised to find that each one was carved from a single rock. My favorite was
Butterball, a rounded structure perched on a slant that seems to defy all laws
of gravity. After viewing this, we came across a man with two parrots. When you
tell him your name, one of the birds comes out and picks a card from a large
stack and the man proceeds to read/interpret the card for you. Rest assured,
our futures are mostly bright: (minus the evil eye Amanda had removed for an
extra 100 rupees and the evil eye I decided to bring home as an additional
souvenir). We'll all look forward to the success, money, many children and long
lives read for us in the cards. The wildlife wasn't limited to these
well-trained birds; this area is home to many goats and we were lucky enough to
see a baby mountain goat climbing the side of a rock as a young boy reached out
to pet it against his mothers wishes. Our walk upward through the stone
structure lead to cool fresh air and views of monkeys who live in the trees and
take advantage of the generosity of visitors (though we didn't get to witness
their love of orange soda). Stephen showed us another structure with built in
steps from which we could see views of the whole town, but after seeing how
many stairs there were we all decided to just stick with the visions in our
An hour and a half more and we were back at the guest house for showers, dinner, calls home and the comfort of sleeping in stationary beds rather than sleeping sitting mostly upright on a street filled with potholes, honking horns, cows and the occasional speed bump.
Thanks again to Stephen, not only for rescheduling his appointment, but for providing lessons that cover more than I ever learned in school!
While the weekend was amazing and I am grateful to have been able to explore new areas and have been exposed to a small piece of
great history, I am excited to start this next (and last: sad face) week,
specifically to see all of the children we've been working with! India
Friday, August 17, 2012
"We cannot do great things, only small things with great love." -Mother Theresa
This is my second rendition of the journal entry as my first one got lost in a temporary internet outage due to a rain storm. Going with the flow... (And it was my own fault for not writing it in a word document first).
Today was a restful day though after several full days of activity, which was also nice because we have a full weekend of travelling and sight-seeing ahead of us.
After breakfast, my mom and I left for Grace while Jenna, Sukhi and Raja waited to go to
. My mom continued her lesson in
geography with the older children, and I improvised a number of activities with
the Upper Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders. I find that I have to plan at
least ten activities each day across the three grades and adjust what I do depending
on what they are able to do or their interest level. Some activities are more
successful than others. For example, playing Grandmother Goes on a Trip with
the second graders was a great success, and even led to an impromptu lesson on
using articles with nouns. On the other hand, my attempt to play Pictionary
with my three first-graders was a miserable failure. I tried using flash cards
for the drawing prompts, but they just drew what they wanted anyway, and drew
the same thing over and over again, so I ended up with a bunch of houses and
cats. I quickly moved on to another activity. Assisi
On our drive home, we saw another vehicle stuck in the mud - it seems like there is a new one each day. Ironically, this one appeared to be a tractor that had been brought in to fill in the other sinkholes in the road with dirt.
At lunch I had my first taste of Rani's soup, which was very tasty, and Jenna, Sukhi and Raja reported that a number of the children at
were missing today. After lunch, Jenna and Raja took a walk to run some errands
while the rest of us took it easy. Assisi
Our evening trip to SEAMs today began with the enthusiastic killing of a centipede by a number of the boys wielding giant sticks - quite an effort! My mom worked with Rajesh on a PowerPoint presentation he has to give for a college class on water resources, while the rest of us colored and played bingo with the little ones. I chose this Mother Theresa quote today because it is these small moments of attention and affection with the children that I cherish most and which I believe have more impact than anything else we do here. The highlight of SEAMs for me was seeing Stephen do the Hokey Pokey with some of the kids, putting his "whole self" in and shaking all about.
We returned home to have a relatively quiet dinner, as I think we are all mentally preparing for our exciting weekend adventure.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I can remember and I’ve remembered more than I’ve seen.” Benjamin Disraeli.
Today, August 16, was more or less a regular day after the excitement of Independence Day yesterday if any day here can be called “regular”. After our usual tasty breakfast which always includes a delicious cup of tea, we all set out for our regular jobs. Amanda and I went to
where the children were still
dancing about after their performances on Wednesday. I have to admit that I am becoming very fond
of my small group of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders
after having worked with them for almost two weeks. We have been doing a little unit on geography
and it was their idea to hang their maps up on the wall in our classroom which
nicely brightened the rather dingy room.
I had asked Grace School
for a dust rag because the room was rather dirty. When I left it on the table overnight, it was
gone the next day so hopefully someone else may be using it. Jenna, Sukhi and Raja went to Sheba as usual. I think we all are getting a kick out of how
much Raja is enjoying the kids and how much they enjoy him. We were glad that Sukhi was feeling
better. Lunch continued our discussion
of so many aspects of Indian culture.
Stephen’s explanations are wonderful and it is especially interesting to
get the input of Sukhi because of her connection to Assisi . After lunch, Jenna, Amanda, Raja and I were
once again driven by our faithful chauffeur, Stephen (brother) to a government
store where we spent a happy hour browsing and buying gifts for people back
home. Returning, we had time to cool off
a bit before heading for SEAMS for an evening of relaxation, if you can call
lots of noise relaxing. The children
were eager to color and paint and play Bingo, and Stephen got a game of Kabidi (I
know I didn’t get this-Stephen told me how to spell it and I already forgot>)
going out in the yard. The evening was
capped off with a short walk to a vegetarian restaurant where we had a
delicious meal of three different kinds of dosas. But the most delicious part was a wonderful
bowl of mango ice cream at the end. And so ends another day full of so much to
take in. It will be a while before all
of this is finally processed in our heads. India
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
“Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, your actions louder than your words and your faith stronger than your feelings” -unknown
Today was an early day for us; we were all up and ready to have breakfast at 8:00. As usual we all sat around the breakfast table to enjoy another delicious breakfast prepared by the beautiful Rani. I was feeling a little under the weather so I decided to take it easy with some eggs and an apple, the others enjoyed the same but adding the southern touch of
by indulging in some dosa. India
As today marked the day of
we all eagerly awaited our history lesson from Stephen - the in-depth
conversations - is probably the most anticipated part of our meals. Today's topic shined light on the journey of Independence India's independence and how 's traffic system works. India
As Stephen wrapped up his lesson, we finish breakfast and got ready to head on out. Sheeba had bought flowers for us girls to place in our hair as a traditional touch to today's outfit. Raja felt a little left out so Stephen might need to take him shopping for a “lungi” to feel at home.
The schedule today was a little different, Amanda and Gretchen still attended
but instead of teaching they took part in an assembly consisting of dance,
drama and speeches prepared by the students. Raja, Jenna and I headed out to
Assisi Illam to entertain the older kids. Grace School
As we arrived at Assisi Illam, we were a bit taken back with the emptiness of the room, suddenly we found ourselves missing the cries of “amma”. The little ones have truly grown on us.
It's not long until the kids arrive from school, all smiles, introducing themselves to us one by one. As Raja struggles to keep up with all the rhymes, Jenna is once again the favorite as she snaps away pictures with her camera and I find myself putting together a puzzle with the adorable Jasmine. We are later joined by Amanda, Gretchen, Sheeba, Stephen and little Roshan. Gretchen and Amanda seem to quickly inter-mix as Gretchen had started off a quiz session with the handsome Augustine. Amanda came prepared with colors books to keep the girls occupied and calm. Seems to be an effective strategy.
After the block building, house decorating and puzzle making, we were all drained but the kids seemed to have only become energized but thankfully it was lunch time.
A much needed break.
Sister Rose had kindly invited us to stay for lunch so we all took places with the kids; I was seated next to Augustine who insisted I not let anyone take his spot till he came back with his food. So I guarded it with my life. Jenna on the other hand un-willingly had to give up Devi’s spot so she suffered the “stink eye” throughout lunch. Lunch was nothing short of fabulous as it was topped off with rice pudding as dessert. The food is
never seems to disappoint any
of us. India
As lunch came to an end we all got ready to leave. I decided to go back to the guest house to get some rest while the others headed out to the local mall to shop. Stephen had an Auto-Rickshaw ready for me to leave, little did I know that the conversation at breakfast today was about to come a reality. Stephen was right; it was definitely a ride I’d never forget. As I hung onto dear life, I made it safe and sound back to the guest house where I spent the rest of the day napping and trying to recover.
The gang returned home from mall but quickly left to go see the children at SEAMS, I'm sure the we're all greeted with hugs and smiles as they entered through the doors.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur for me as I spent it sleeping but I'm sure the rest of the team enjoyed a terrific dinner.
As we finished of our third day here in
I know it goes without saying that we are all blessed to be here and this
experience is forever life changing. India
Tuesday, August 15, 2012
Quote of the day- “where there is love there is life”-Mahatma Gandhi
It's Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 which means its our second day of our program. When Steven first told me I would be working with children, instead of construction, I was quite terrified of how this trip would develop; however, after two days of our program I can say that I've fallen in love with the place.
We start our days as usual:
·wake up and call our friends and family's
·get dressed and sit around the dining table and discuss serious topics, such as politics, socialtal concerns, women rights etc. (it's my way of getting the latest news)
·next either Amanda, Gretchen or
will set out our plates (but today Jenna tried to help by handing out napkins) Sheba
·then there is 10 mintues of silence, because everyone is stuffing their faces ( Jennas been having a tough time with the whole “not allowed to use our left hand to eat, so she's always the last to finish eating)
·and afterwards Sukhi Jenna and I go to
and Amanda and Gretchen head to Grace. Assisi
The kids at
were being themselves, full of excitement and laughter; some more than others.
Jenna grew a close bond with Vijay and sang him ba ba black sheep and once
again I became the human jungle gym. But it wasn't for long till a boy names
Vinay found my shoulder to cry on; he happens to miss his mom more than I do. Assisi
After lunch we all went for a walk to a nearby clothing store because silly me underpacked; but it turned out for the best both Amanda and Jenna bought traditional South Indian outfits.
Around 5pm we all made our way to SEAMS and like always the kids came running to the door to greet us with hugs. We were each paired with a child to spend one-on-one time, however Amanda, Jenna and I were exhausted so instead we decided to team up and play Bingo with the kids.Regardless of our energy level, the kids have tons of their own and it tends to rub off on us.
Monday, August 13, 2012
The laughter of a child is the light of a house." - African Proverb
Today was our first full day and as Stephen encouraged us to do, we went with the flow. This was especially important for Sukhi, Raja and I who are still adjusting to all the changes that accompany flying across the world. Gretchen and Amanda are practically pros now and they are have proven to be a great resource for us. This morning we were all very excited to dive in and gather new experiences.
After breakfast, gretchen and ananda left for
and the three of us traveled to Assisi Illam where we met most of the day care
children. We encountered a number of tears and calls for "Amma"
(mother in Tamil) as this was their first day back after several holidays, but
we managed to win them over (mostly with our cameras). The children enjoy
having their picture taken and love to look at them afterward (and sometimes
share the photos with their friends). We read books, colored, played with toy
animals, sang songs and eventually helped the students wash their hands before
lunch. Afterward, they laid down to rest (several students had fallen asleep
earlier in the morning, but no one looked tired after lunch). I think the
volunteers were more in need of a nap than the children; they have so much
energy! Though the language barrier was obvious, it was nice to be able to
communicate through hugs, smiles and laughter. Grace School
Over lunch we shared the stories of our days. Gretchen continued working with grades 3, 4 and 5 and taught a geography lesson on continents and countries. Amanda transitioned from the day care to teaching upper kindergarten, first and second grade about body parts. We recapped stories for Amanda about some of the little ones she worked with last week. The rest of our afternoons are still spent adjusting to our new conditions (which meant naps for most of us).
Sheeba predicted rain as we walked to SEAM Children's Home and soon after we arrived it began. The children greeted us at the gate and then we worked with them one on one (and through our second power outage of the day). My favorite part of the day was working with Anish, a 13 year old boy, who taught me about his favorite Indian sports (Cricket and Kabbadi) and how to write and say several words in Tamil. We returned to the guest house mostly dry (though maybe a little muddy) for dinner, discussions with Stephen and Sheeba about
and the culture and finished
just before another unexpected power outage. India
Though my goal coming to
was to help teach the children I encounter, today I realized how much the
children will teach me. Throughout this experience, I hope the laughter of the
children continues to guide us (especially through the power outages)! India
Sunday, August 12, 2012
In every child who is born, in no matter what circumstances, and no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again. - James Agee
Today my mom and I were joined by three new team members, Jenna, a teacher of children who are deaf or hard of hearing from
, and Raja and Sukhi, two students from New York whose families are from Canada Punjab. The three of them brought a breath of fresh air
to the house, and I think we will have an enthusiastic team.
After their first breakfast from Rani, we sat down for orientation to discuss our team goals, characteristics of an effective team, and project assignments. I think everyone was pleased with their assignments - I will be switching to
with my mom, and the three newcomers will have fun with the little ones at Grace School . . Assisi
In the afternoon, the new arrivals took a much deserved nap, and we embarked to SEAMs around 5:30. On the walk over, Jenna was excited to spot her first cow in the street. The children literally sprinted to meet us at the gates today, and we were given a proper introduction complete with handshakes, a tour of the facilities from the boys, and a song from the girls. We then got to play with the kids for a little while, and Raja took on the role of human jungle gym for the boys.
We ended the day with a feast at a local restaurant with tandoori chicken, three types of bread, sear fish, and two types of sauces. Many thanks to Stephen for treating. I think we'll all get a good night's sleep tonight in preparation for our new or continuing assignments.