21 November, 2010
Hello and sorry, once again, for not writing for some time. We are in the middle of prepping our students for exams, correcting final projects, and counting down until our 40-day trip around India.
On November 13th we celebrated Children’s Day here in India. It takes the concept of Teacher’s Day and turns it on its head (as India has a knack for doing). When I first heard about this holiday, I wondered, “Where was this when I was in school?!” I would have loved to see my teachers making absolute fools out of themselves purely for my enjoyment…but alas, on my first Children’s Day I was on the giving end of the hilarity.
So for the weeks leading up to the big day, each night our house was filled with the sounds of High School Musical, as we appropriately chose the film’s final song, “We’re All in this Together” as our dance number. The girls all caught on pretty quickly with the moves, but I, having never learned a choreographed dance before, had a bit of trouble keeping up at first. In the end (in my humble opinion) we had it down pat! In addition to this the girls, with the help of the Holy Cross hostellers, learned a traditional Kokborok dance and Aja because of her lighter colored hair was volunteered to lip sync to Shakira’s “Waka Waka” song from the 2010 World Cup. During the latter number, some of the male teachers from Blessed Andre and I donned soccer jerseys and kicked a ball around the stage as the music blared.
When Children’s Day arrived we dressed in our house uniforms (the same ones that the students wear on Saturdays) and hopped on the bus to Blessed Andre School. The Shakira song was first and was extremely well received. When the kids saw Aja come running out with a microphone, they went crazy! She should get a lot of credit for that dance because she had almost no time to prepare for it and the music kept cutting in and out. Next came our big HSM song, which went really well and the students got a big kick out of. Finally, the girls wrapped up our performances with their tribal dance. They did so well! I never could have balanced the plates while dance like they did and they looked great in the traditional dress.
As soon as they left the stage, we frantically collected our belongings and got into a car that was waiting to take us to Holy Cross School where we had to do it all again! I think the dances went just as well the second time and Children’s Day 2010 was a great success! Now I know what you're thinking..."Ben, when will you perform again?!" and "Where can we behold the sheer mastery that was your performance?!" To answer your first question, I have decided, after much deliberation and internal anguish, to hang up my dancing shoes. When you have a performance that you just can't top, you have to leave on a high note. (A certain quarterback should have taken this advice). As for your second, completely understandable, question, a video of the dance can be found on YouTube @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2AeA5AV8OQ.
Another notable development is the completion of my 8th graders’ letters to my brother Andy’s 5th grade class in the U.S. When I first gave them the assignment to write a letter to a student in the United States, I wasn’t entirely sure how they would take it, but I am ecstatic with their efforts and enthusiasm! They are currently putting the finishing touches on their final draft and we hope to get them in the mail by the middle of next week. Many of them have asked question after question about the families, pets, and favorite things of their American counterparts. Some of them even included brief lessons in their mother tongue, Kokborok. It was great to see their creative juices flowing in a system that does not generally reward originality. My personal favorite was one letter that said, “I know that it is very cool in the United States now, but here, Sir Ben is still sweating very much.” You have got to love the brutal honesty and candor of my kids! In the end, no matter what they write, this is a valuable opportunity for them. Sure, they will be getting to practice their writing skills and English grammar, but in all honesty, they could do that copying out of a math textbook. They are getting to expand their horizons by contacting kids, like them, on the other side of the world and in doing so; foster a sense of cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.
So now, I bid you adieu. I will be sure to update the blog at least once more before we leave for our big trip.
31 October, 2010
28 September, 2010
14 September, 2010
19 August, 2010
10 August, 2010
My first impressions of the school are mostly positive. The children are shy, but very bright, and once they began to feel more comfortable with us, they began to ask questions about the United States, our travels, how we were finding India so far, and of course American popular culture. Sadly, some of the worst of the U.S. has made it to even the remote villages of India. The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) was mentioned, along with Justin Beiber, Miler Cyrus, and Michael Jackson. Oh well! I guess we can’t control what makes the leap and what doesn’t!
The classes, along with much of society, are extremely gendered. The girls sit on one side of the classroom, the boys on the other. When the boys speak, the girls listen, but when the girls speak, the boys tend to chat amongst each other. This attitude is reflected in marriage practices, family life, and most definitely in the political realm as well.
The younger classes are very cute! Their English comprehension and speech are not quite as good as in the Holy Cross School. I hope to sub in one of their classes at some point so I can spend time with them as well! Here is a picture of class 1!
One of the most eye-opening moments of the day for me was when a student asked me where in the world I had traveled. I told him that I had been to over 20 countries and the whole class let out a collective gasp. I asked them how many of them had been to Delhi, the Indian capital, not one hand went up. The vast majority of these children have not left their small state of Tripura, some potentially never seeing past the city of Agartala.
In other news, our neighbor Jinu (7 years old) has begun to teach me to play cricket! It is a very interesting sport that resembles baseball (but only a little). I will admit that I’m not very good at it, but Jinu says that there’s hope
for me yet! I hope he’s right!
We also took a group excursion to a local zoo! It was a very exciting to see all of the monkeys, rhinos, leopards, lions, and tigers! While we were there, one of the monkeys actually escaped! Here is a picture of the Royal Bengal Tiger that we saw.
I think that is all for now, but I will most definitely keep you all posted! ~Ben
05 August, 2010
01 August, 2010
We have already met several students at the school. Two of our neighbors Ginu and Bijoy have come over to the cottages a few times already to meet us and just spend some time. Ginu is about 7 or 8 years old and Bijoy is in the 11th grade. Today Bijoy taught us a new game called Carem. It is a mixture of pool, air hockey, and paper football! Here are a few shots of us learning and playing!
After this, Ginu spend some time with us playing spoons and go fish!
In the afternoon we traveled to meet the Bishop of the diocese and then toured the campus with Fr. Emmanuel. He then took us to the girls hostel were it was tutoring time. We walked up the stairs and straight into a classroom of almost 30 students! I have never seen so many beautiful smiles! All of the girls immediately said, "Good evening Ma'am, Good evening Sir," which will definitely take some getting used to. They sang us a beautiful welcome song and gave us paper flowers to symbolize friendship and then asked us some questions before we headed back to our cottage for the night. It has made me even more excited for our teaching experience to begin!
I think that is all for now, sorry for such a long posting, but so much is happening so quickly!
27 July, 2010
I am getting more and more excited for the trip as the departure gets nearer and we learn more about what we will be doing while in Agartala. I will do my best to post as soon as I can once we arrive in India!
13 July, 2010
As far as my trip goes, I am beginning to make packing lists and Mom and I will be going shopping soon to get anything else that I need! I am very excited, but also very nervous for this experience of a lifetime to begin and I feel so very blessed to have the love and support of family, friends, and Katherine!