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Monday, July 11, 2011

Lessons from India

Be Patient
The bus will probably not leave on time. Someone will probably push in front of you in line. As long as you realise you are HERE, you are ALIVE, and it's good to be these things, you won't worry too much. I've learnt to take things little steps at a time and to appreciate each moment before I stress about the next few.

Be Kind
First impressions are sometimes very, very wrong. Everyone has problems, issues and worries. It would be better for everyone to give people a break every now and again. Oh, that person just shoved you and didn't apologize? It's cool, they might be having a bad day. If you called them out on it, they may feel worse.

People are good
We got stranded because our taxi (rickshaw) stalled in the middle of our ride home. It was pouring and we didn't know which way or how far we had left to go. We asked for help, and without us knowing, the people we had asked had flagged down a rickshaw for us, and the driver didn't try to over charge us!
Passengers on the bus made sure we got off at our station by going out of their way to make sure we knew in advance. People have helped us rent mopeds, buy ice-creams, negociate rickshaw rides, buy phone numbers, etc etc. I think there's more people helping us than trying to rip us off.

People have amazing stories
Having been to an International conference in India with 450 delegates, I got to talk to quite a few people. I've talked to someone from Russia who has visited over 45 countries, someone who got into Columbia but wasn't allowed to leave due to family reasons; talked to a girl from Romania that has started her own company. Just talking to the two people in front of us on the bus, I learnt a lot about working in India and travelling. It's easy to generalise and ignore people, but it's so much more interesting to talk to them! :)

Don't be scared to take time for yourself.
This is especially important when you live in a place that seems to have no privacy, too many people that notice (and point at) you, and when you sleep in a room with 50 other girls. I try to take some alone time to just sit and read every morning, otherwise I feel trapped and stressed the rest of the day.

That's all I have time to write about for now. I'm also learning that it's nice to get on the internet frequently and talk to friends from back home, but it's more important to live in the moment and make new friends :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Having been here 3 weeks, we have had time to settle into a routine. My day has some interesting consistencies, and some random events thrown in.

My day starts with annoying birds making ackward sounds, as I sleep outside on a rooftop. After the birds come the flies, so I pull my blanket over my head to stop them from waking me up. I can usually relax until 6:30, when one of the girls shakes me up. I pack up my mattress and blanket, and head inside for a half hour nap. We have tea (and biscuits) at 7am, everyday. It's a great start to the day, and I was especially sad to have slept through it this morning :(

After tea, I usually brush my teeth, change, grab my glasses and E-reader and head to the office in order to start my half hour allocation of internet. I catch up with my friends, my email and the outside world until 8am, when the next intern will take my place at the computer. We each take a half hour turn until lunch is served, at 10am.

After I get kicked off the computer, I go back to the dorms and journal, read, or take another nap. After lunch, we have about an hour to relax before school starts. We usually talk to the girls, who are frantically trying to finish their homework, or washing their clothes. If I haven't showered at night I will grab a 'shower' at this time.

Prayer for the whole school starts at around 11:20, and school starts after that at 11.30. We have each been assigned a classroom, and I sit in with a male teacher in grade (standard) 4. Their lessons are quite interesting - they are taught Gujarati writing through sign language, and each day is a different topic. I am slowly trying to hear the words and match them to the writing so that I can learn the alphabet, but it's proving to be an inefficient way of learning - I will ask a teach soon. I have learnt numbers, sign language, and how to write my name in Gujarati. I can adequately teach math to grade 4 :)

We have two ten minute breaks in the day, at 1pm, and at 4pm. A snack is served during the long (half hour) break of the day, which is from 2:30-3pm. After 3pm, I usually head to senior KG, which remains my favourite class. They slowly learn numbers, colours, animals and other random category things, which I find easy to learn and useful. This is where I learnt my colours the first few days we were here. And the adorable kids bring me back everytime :)

After school we have about an hour to relax (aka nap time) before dinner at 6pm. This is a great break because sometimes school can be overwhelming, or slow, and I need this time to regroup. After dinner we usually play sports with the hostel kids (the kids that sleep in the campus, like us!). The older girls are great at Badminton, and we sometimes manage a few volleyball passes before all the little kids come and steal our ball. We've also recently started spinning the children around so that they almost fly, which works well if they are little. I get very, very dizzy during this game, however, because they want to go one after another, and the little ones don't realise that I need a break.

Sometimes we go outside instead, after dinner and stay until 9:30 (our curfew). Yesterday we had a meeting with some staff at Wagh Backri, which is a big tea company here. They wanted to meet some AIESEC interns and we were lucky enough to be picked!

At either 7:30 or 8, we are usually ushered inside, where the girls either finish their homework or decide to talk to us. This is our biggest bonding time with the girls. In the past we have danced with them, talked to them, taken pictures with them...

I try to shower at this time, because it gets very hectic and crowded in the morning. We are usually in bed by 10, talk for a half hour and fall asleep, to start the next day again very soon.

In a next post I will try and put some pictures up of our weekend trip to Mount Abu. :)