Thursday, July 14, 2011

Last Day in the Cycle: Education

This is my last blog before I head to Delhi for the weekend to explore the Taj Mahal and see what other experiences India has to offer.  I'd like to remind new and old readers alike that these blog entries are best done in order, so skip to the first blog if you are a new face.

Today was education day for my group.  We walk over to the school and teach the children from 9 till 2.  I haven't had much of an opportunity to formally teach (minus halo lessons), so I was excited to discover whether I like being a teacher and if I was any good at it.  The quote that was in the small school library on the wall is an old friend of mine.  "Be the change you wish to see in the world"- Gandhi.  When at times I feel like there is no point in fighting against the current, or no point in suffering the judgements that come with being the first to break a mold, and find myself saying "someone else can do it- I just want to be happy"- I lean on this idea to support me and give me confidence.  It's a pretty sweet coincidence that the Indian Guru himself said this.  

It was one volunteer per student for forty minutes.  I was super pumped up to teach... probably a little too much.  I imagine Priya (the first girl I taught) thought I was a little crazy with my zealous attitude.  I helped her with some phonetic sounds and assisted her in reading a book.  She definitely was at first self conscious with how much she struggled... but I believe my encouraging words put her more or less at ease.  She was the first Indian girl that I got to know personally.  In comparison to the boys I have gotten to know, she was much more shy but nicer, and with way less crazy energy.  She had much more self control.  

After Priya, I had a few more students.  All of them were borderline illiterate... As I looked around in frustration to my cousin to see how he was fairing with his student, he was already finished with the book.  Each new round of kids, Nelson would be paired with a genius and I was paired with a struggling reader.  No fair Nelson!  At least  I was able to practice my patience.  Luckily it never grew too short.  I had to employ all of my faculties to first keep the kids interested in learning, (anything from challenging them to thumb wars to playing a round of tic tac toe, with the winner getting to decide what to do), and then second to help them actually learn.  I taught some of them the saying "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking".  Attempting to teach English to these kids helped me realize how wacko our language rules are.  So many exceptions.  To quote Brian Regan "It's 'I' before 'E', except after C, and when sounding of 'ay' like in neighbor and weigh, and on weekends and holidays and all throughout may, you'll always be wrong no matter what you say!".

One of the girls I taught named Mira was extremely shy... and refused to speak English to me.  Which was unfortunate because I don't speak Tamil.  And to top it all off, she had no idea how to do the math I was assigned to teach her.  I gave her a crash course in algebra and was pleased to see that some of it stuck.

A few times during the tutoring sessions I was able to see my patience pay off.  As the student's mind was suddenly able to grasp on to the fleeting concept that so deftly evaded it previously, an intensity would glimmer in the child's eye.  A bright grin would appear on their face and they'd squeal in excitement.  Another great experience that one can truly only know and feel if one experiences it first hand.  Those moments will stay with me forever hopefully.

The library I worked in


Stumbled upon Lord of the Rings in the library (gotta get that LOTR reference in)... it looked pretty pristine and untouched which is no surprise.  

After the school day we headed to lunch with the students.  On the way over I talked about life back in the states to a boy named Joseph Stalin (LOL) and he was obsessed with gaining bigger muscles and a six pack.  He asked me if I would take him and his friend out onto the track and train him with running, jumping, and push ups.  I told him I would.  Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. I will be on the track training Stalin himself.

Stalin is the one on the left.  The picture is slanted because I had Ramesh take it.

Lunch, although I wouldn't say it looked appetizing (I'll let you be the judge), was pretty good.

The Indian boys taught us how to eat with our hands... or more specifically just our right hand.  Apparently their left hands are used to *use your imagination* and so can't touch the food.  THANKS RISING STAR FOR NOT MENTIONING THAT!  THEY'VE ONLY BEEN RUNNING THEIR HANDS THROUGH MY HAIR AND OVER MY FACE FOR DAYS!  Sorry for the all caps but I was slightly disgusted.

Nelson here is chilling with the locals and his protege Sonjey (next to Nelson on our right).

Well that's all for now.  Sorry for the sub par blog.  Hopefully I'll get some cool stuff from the Taj Mahal!

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