Monthly Archives: January 2012

Aside

after my most recent post and email update, i realized that i don’t have any clear direction as to what i’m trying to convey through this blog. i know it can be quite boring to simply run through a list of things i did for the past month. this is like the number one thing that any ‘how to be a blogger’ list will tell you, don’t just keep a diary. after realizing this, and reading back through the email i sent out, i realized i must have confused the two. SO below is an excerpt from my recent email which is a much better fit for why i’m here, who i am, what i do, and better fits the bill for a blog post:

December and January have brought new thoughts into just how profoundly different my life now is from “typical.” I know I’ve said this before but as I think about it more, it’s so difficult to distinguish between my own ambition/work and the fates of the world that have made everything possible. I’ve never been a person who could ‘see’ very far into my own future (i may never be able to fully articulate what i want to do with my life until i’m doing it), so I never would have imagined that I’d actually be living abroad, working, and doing something good for the world all at the same time. Clearly I cannot put more weight on one force or another, nor can I ignore the immense amount of support I have received from family, friends, colleagues, advisors, and mentors, but it’s not so much the influence of any one factor that amazes me, but the sheer coming together of all of these things to put me where I am now.
In the beginning of 2011, I was looking forward to finally being finished with my bachelor’s degree and being “on my own” for real. I was very excited and felt prepared for the Cultural Immersion Project and was so excited to just get to India, the fact that it was fully funded with a scholarship certainly increased the excitement. Those were all fairly regular nearly-college-graduate type of thoughts. It was after about a month in India that things started to change, when the idea first popped into my head that I might actually get the chance to come back and work for the organization I was so happy to be a part of. From there it just seems like almost no time has passed, and yet I’ve been propelled into this other life that I didn’t expect. I’ve missed things about home and have had my moments of wondering “where the HELL am I?!” But overall, I couldn’t be happier, and cannot think of a place where I would get more satisfaction out of my job. The relationships I’ve built with many of the students in the school (my own and various others) are something I value more than anything else here. For many of them, home is not always a great place to be, and the toll it takes on some is truly heartbreaking. It is, however, amazing to see them acting as any other kid might within the walls and timings of the school. There are certainly specific cultural differences, but in many ways, “kids are kids,” and these have proven very deeply the extreme resilience of the human spirit. I worry about them everyday. My stomach twists and turns at the thought of something happening to any one of them, but the thing is they don’t and cannot live with fear, they go on. And generally they are happy, even if there are behavior issues (the bane of any traditionally run school). Just like any kid I know, they revel in getting a rise out of their teachers and coming up with more and more clever ways to play tricks on each other. (I’d argue Indian kids are much more creative in their antics than American kids). I absolutely cannot get through a day, no matter how irritated or unmotivated I feel, without some student in the corridor putting a HUGE smile on my face. Be it a tiny little kindergartener skipping happily through the corridors, or some cheeky 9th grader trying to write a [cheeky] poem. I revel in their joys and also in their sorrows. These kids are exactly why I’m here.
I even get choked up now (still 8 months from finishing my contract) thinking about the time when I will have to leave this place and these faces behind. Of course, I can’t stay forever, and wouldn’t want to. I’m very happy with the place I grew up and wouldn’t change where I come from. BUT this is definitely changing my outlook on career goals and plans. One major priority for my future will be finding ways to stay in contact with the amazing people here and keeping tabs on my students. All of whom I want to succeed more than anything in the world! I wish I could show them how far they could go because it’s difficult for them to see sometimes, but I know that at the very least this generation of learners will be able to be active members of society. I’m flabbergasted that I get to be a part of that.
Thank you friends for your support and encouragement ūüôā
Sarah

i’m a bad blogger…

well… happy new year!

Standard

…a late one that is… (clearly i’m not disciplined enough for this whole professional-blogger thing, sigh.)

celebrating the holiday season in India was certainly not the same as being in the U.S.¬†yes, people (in Bangalore at least) do celebrate Christmas in India. but no, it’s not the same without snow, real christmas trees throwing needles all over the place, cold weather, crowded malls, hot chocolate, or eggnog. my loving family members replaced some of this by¬†sending nice cards, christmas decorations, hot chocolate mixes, and nice smelling christmas candles to brighten up my room. the person i’m staying with did decorate for christmas and it looked fairly festive inside the house (christmas tree, stockings, stars), but it wasn’t the same without cold weather. it genuinely didn’t feel like Christmas time here because, though a ‘bangalorean’ will argue, the seasons barely change here, at least through the eyes of a midwestern girl who is used to seeing all 4 distinct seasons; hot, sticky summer to bone-chilling winter. it is certainly cooler in the month of december here, even getting down around 50 (F) at night, but it still gets up to nearly 80 (F) in the daytime and the sun can be unbearable as we are elevated a bit here and therefore closer to the sun.

though the holidays were exciting, december was a bit of a month of falling into routines. the nice thing that has finally happened for me at school is that things have suddenly become organized and started running fairly smoothly (as smoothly as is possible for a special educator). one might think this all would have happened earlier as I’ve now been here 4+ months, but as is proven to me every day, establishing norms and routines in a special education classroom that has a huge variety of needs to address, not to mention the logistics of scheduling students’ classes, meetings with teachers, and time to organize and sort through paperwork, is a never-ending test in time-management and organization. the fact that we are in India certainly doesn’t aid in any of the routines we are trying to establish. though as we recently added 1.5 new teachers (1 part-time, 1 full-time) to our room, the workload has been more evenly distributed and now there are more brains there for our regular brainstorming sessions.

here’s the christmas season in short;

  • school: the month of december brings exam time. first something called the Asset which is supposed to assess where the kids stand in the curriculum and compare to other schools. unfortunately there seems to only be a loose connection between the actual curriculum and that which the test is based on. but that’s the story of any teacher at home as well (think ISTEP here). the last week in december brought regular term exams, which means those of us in the LSC,¬†had to create our own individualized exams for our kiddos. luckily a chunk of them will be moving back to regular grade level work in January and therefore will be able to take the regular monthly exams their classmates take (if all goes as planned). also, we got the chance to have a little end of term celebration which was almost entirely organized by LSC students themselves. gave me that little taste of Christmas enjoyment that kids at home have… except that here Santa is referred to as “that Christmas thata” (thata= old man in Kannada).
  • home: on christmas eve, the family i stay with invited all of the people who work in the building (watchmen, maids, cooks, etc.) to bring their families for a nice Christmas lunch. it was really wonderful to meet the families of the people who i see every day, and great to see them being served food for once. everyone crowded into the apartment downstairs and ate on the floor the traditional indian way; on mats, eating with hands. it was a really great way to kick off Christmas! otherwise, i had a fairly quiet Christmas day and spent the evening Skyping with family members. we spent new years in and had a few friends over to celebrate and eat awesome¬†food!
  • outings: of course i couldn’t sit around the house for a whole week, so NC and i did go on a few outings. the highlight, i would say, was spending a couple of days visiting the hostel. we went once on Christmas Eve and saw all the decorations, then got to accompany the group to¬†Bannerghatta National Park (the zoo of Bangalore). otherwise, we met a few friends for dinner and tried to relax and put work out of our minds for the week.

the start of January has brought excitement for the quickly approaching CH Global Conference which is being held in Bangalore this year. the school is getting all prepared with performances and committee plans to make the visit a good one for all of our international colleagues and for Christel Ma’am herself¬†(as children so lovingly call her). i’m excited to see the various staff from around the world and to get the chance to see some familiar Indianapolis residents.

hope everyone is well and that the new year has brought new beginnings and a fresh start for all of you, many happy wishes for health and happiness!

vanakkam!
namaskara!
assalamu alaikum!
Sarah