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Aside

…well i finally figured out what it’s been that’s kept me from updating my dedicated followers (i.e. the friends and family that monitor me to make sure i haven’t gone completely over the deep-end). shame.

yep, shame.

now don’t go getting all worried, not that scary wrist-cutting shame that causes so much grief you can’t even live with yourself. no, its that kind of shame you get when you put something off just long enough to feel bad about it. then you get to that point where you’re afraid that if you try to make it right you’ll just draw more attention to the irresponsible procrastination you let yourself fall into in the first place and the shame sets in again. you know, the paralyzing kind that makes you want to avoid attracting attention to yourself? (at least if you’re an ‘avoider’ like me) its like that.

i think what it boils down to is the fact that i’ve never been a particularly disciplined person. throughout my schooling, assignments always seemed to be a day late, and i think certain teachers came to expect my heart-wrenching pleads for just one more day and the concession of a few points so that i could “finish” it. which meant that at about 9pm that evening i would frantically begin the project and stay up all night brooding over it to come out with a fairly decent rendition of what it should have been had i planned out the whole 2 weeks i’d had to get it done, further reinforcing my tendency to do it again. that is my life. has been for as long as i can remember and, clearly, i’m not growing out of it any time soon.

so, long, drawn-out excuse over with, a LOT has happened since the last time many of you heard from me! here’s the short list:

1. i made the formal decision to finish out a second school year with CHI! so that means i’ll be here through April/May of 2013. luckily, NC and i made somewhat of a pact so that neither of us would be here alone, which leads to the next 2 points

2. i officially got my visa extension which will be good through July 2013! not that I need it that long, but I’m glad to have leeway and not have to worry about doing it again*

3. NC and i have officially moved out of our previous home-stay accommodations and gotten into a new two-bedroom abode about a 20-minute bus ride from work! (which cuts my commute time in half!) i’ll dedicate another post to this on its own.

4. i got to spend about a month in Indiana this past May and got to see a few of the people i had hoped to see. hopefully i’ll be able to plan out my next visit  a little better (mark your calendars for December, people!) and get more visits in!

5. my very brave father spent a week here with me on my way back and got a small taste of my life in India. i think there was a bit of shell-shock, but overall i think his experience was good. i enjoyed being able to finally show off how much i’ve learned about life here and prove to myself just how ‘indian’ my lifestyle has become!

6. we currently have the special ed coordinator from Indy here working with us at school which has been a HUGE help for getting ourselves better organized and focused for creating procedures in the school.

well, you’ve now got the abbreviated version of what’s happened in the past couple of months. overall, things are going well and i’ve etched out some sort of life here that i think i can manage for a while. i’ll update soon with pictures and details of the new living situation.

tata for now,
sarah

*= new & exciting info originally neglected, added 23/07/12

shame…

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 🙂
Sarah

i’m a bad blogger…

Aside

i’ve been asked a few times now, exactly what language people speak here (“¿Indian?” “…no.”) so here is my explanation of that answer and why it’s difficult to learn.

short answer [i.e. you can read this paragraph, and have the basic question answered]: the “official” language of India is Hindi, but as this is traditionally, and historically a ‘northern’ language, it has not caught on in the whole of the nation, particularly in the south [where i am]. the language ‘officially’ spoken in Bangalore is Kannada (as Bangalore is located in the state of Karnataka), but as this large city is located fairly central to most of southern India, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi are also spoken, as is Urdu for anyone practicing Islam. in my personal Bangalore experience, the average person on the street will speak a minimum of 3-4 languages, even if they cannot read/write in any of them. in Bangalore, because of a long history of British influence, a great many people speak at least a small enough amount of English that i can get around with fairly little struggle.

the longer answer and explanation:
first off, what you need to know is a brief lesson in history. before ‘india’ became a major center for trade with european countries, the sub-continent itself was extremely diverse. one could move only, say 100 km and the language, culture, and customs would be quite different. in India’s long civilized history the sub-continent experienced a long list of different ruling cultures which influenced various aspects of Indian life, to varying degrees. because of the diversity of the place, one could almost argue that this vast place could have been made into 30 different countries (though this would require a whole other post altogether, and a great deal of time i don’t have at the moment for research).

not only does each individual state have its own official language, but those states [like, say, Orissa] that have large populations of tribal people have unending numbers of ‘dialects’ that have sprouted off of that language some hundreds of years ago. in all, i’m told, the number of languages and dialects spoken within the borders of this nation may number in the 400’s. though i seriously wonder how one does a census of such a vast and sometimes obscure place.

my [personal] speculation for how so many languages have been sustained over so many dynasties, rulers, and kingdoms is that for one, there is a very high value placed on the learning and procurement of languages. traditionally, the first language an Indian child will speak is their “mother tongue.” they may also learn the “father tongue” if it is different, plus the local language which is often something else. let me give you an example (not an actual story, just a compilation of various students i have questioned about it); i ask a 9th grade student which languages he speaks and how he learned each of them. his mother tongue is Tamil as his mother was born there, he also speaks Tulu (learned while living in Mangalore), Kannada – as the village he has lived most of his life is in Karnataka, he also speaks Malyalam as it is related to Tulu and he once lived in a place where it was spoken, somewhere along the way he picked up Telugu, and at CHI the students begin learning English in the 1st grade. in case you weren’t counting, that’s SIX DIFFERENT LANGUAGES. yes, maybe the person is not completely fluent in all of these languages and certainly not literate in all, but the thought of just speaking even 5 different languages in a half-way decent manner is incomprehensible to most Americans at least. (i could probably write a whole other blog about why i don’t think this should be the case, but i digress)

as i mentioned, the official language in Bangalore is Kannada, but Tamil, Telugu, English and Hindi are also common. the most common next to Kannada is definitely Tamil. and at CHI, a great many of the students claim Tamil as their mother tongue. politically and culturally, Tamilians are very proud and attached to their language and Tamilians have moved to give it a higher status in India as it has some 60 million speakers.
because of all of this, learning one specific language is difficult. though it would be advantageous for me to learn Hindi if i want to travel in the rest of the country, learning, and especially practicing Hindi, is not particularly easy in Bangalore. my current project is learning Tamil, as the children at school get extremely excited if i can even come close to mimicking something in their mother tongue [which they get scolded for speaking in school or on the bus]. personally though, where possible, i try to use their language, be it Tamil or Kannada, when i am teaching vocabulary because i am interested in attempting to pick up a few words myself. it also engages them more if i take an interest in what they speak.

well, there is your long answer, i’ll let you know when i actually pick something worthwhile up and can actually communicate 🙂
also; soon to come is a post on “Indian English” which is another animal altogether.

Namaskara,
Sarah

what the **** language do they speak there?! …and are you learning it?