Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Education Day at Rising Star

Today I'll start with a little Q & A and then I'll illustrate the adventures of our day.

Q: How is your sleep adjusting?

A: It's not yet. It's frustrating at night to lay here counting sheep, anxious because the morning hours are getting closer and closer, but I've never felt so awake in my life.

Q: How are the smells?

A: No issue at all. I've heard the horror stories about India in general, but so far so good. It's probably me that stinks so people are staying far away from me (and the kids love me anyway)!

Q: How are the sounds?

A: If you love the sound of birds chirping and children laughing, they are heavenly.

Q: How is it going to the bathroom?

A: Let's just say my thighs are getting a workout but it's surprisingly comfortable. (pictures of toilets on previous post)

Q: How many volunteers are there?

A: Right now there are a few teachers from an organization called World Teach, a volunteer coordinator, a medical coordinator and an education coordinator. Besides that there are a couple long term (a few months) volunteers and us. It's a slim crew compared to the large summer volunteer sessions, but the coordinators do an amazing job making sure things are well organized and that both the students and other volunteers max out their experience. Other than that Rising Star has a full staff with medical director, teachers, principle, house moms, name it.

Q: What are some of the children's names?

A: I'll start with one of my favorite students from today:

There's Gopinath, Krishnaveni, Naveenhumar, Sabari, Vaishnavi, Tamilarasi, Priyadarshini, Manimaran, Hamsavarthini, Kristuraj, Vignesh, Priya, Mageshwari and more than 200 other little darlings with names just as complex. They love to quiz us to make sure we remember their names and it kills me when I can't say them. They even wear name tags during the day, but you try to slyly glance at their tag and see how easy it is to pronounce it on the fly!

Today was education day. We got to spend our  time one on one with several of the students helping them read, do math and computers. It was incredible. My favorite thing about the day was watching these kids filled with so much determination. I can't imagine how hard it would be to learn English, let alone deal with some of the other inconsistencies in their lives and education, and they just don't let it stop them.

On our teaching days we get a little more dressed up - it's appropriate to wear a scarf so that we look more professional and the children know the difference between playmates and teachers.

But the scarf didn't stop them from confiscating my camera...again...

Here are some things that we aren't used to in America. I'm fascinated with watching how they utilize resources so carefully and produce very little waste.

"Drinking Fountain"

For the teachers (in lieu of having trash cans full of Starbucks trash)
Typical Classroom

The library wall
Open-air study hall
Or just plain study in the hall
Shoes optional
We started the morning reading to the younger kids in the dining hall. Good thing we brought our A-game!

Here are my buddies Gopith and Jaikarthick showing off the ABC's to me. (The video wouldn't download to my iPhoto so I had to import it and then film it on my phone - sorry for the quality)

And even more impressive was their spelling of vegetables...

School at Rising Star was good today. 

And I think I'm in love.

And the most beautiful thing I saw today:

As Rajamanikkam and I were pointing to letters on the page together, I looked down and the message from my bracelet reminded me that it is him, and all of them here, that are making the change for me.


  1. You are the change I like to see in this world!

  2. When you make change in the world you "become" changed. That's what is happening to you and to those of us who are shared vicariously a tiny part of this experience. The pictures cause tears and many emotions - wonder, astonishment, sadness, empathy, joy, gratitude, humility and resolve - each for different reasons too lengthy to mention. Love you and am proud of my girls! Nanny

  3. Ahhhh! I adore those little boys on the videos! Precious. I can see why you love to snuggle right up to them. Its easy to see the love on your faces for those little angels. And looking so beautiful all the while. I want those bright beautiful clothes you ladies are wearing. They are stunning! I would love you to bring some of those kids home to me too. ;) Lucky Ducks! I've been eating quinoa and black beans this week and getting tired of them.. I need Indian spices. Are you guys getting any meal ideas/recipes that you would make back home? Are you ladies getting so excited to get to share this experience with Aaron soon? He's coming soon, right? So exciting! Thank you for filling my heart with wonderful feelings of love and tenderness. XO