Our second week started off a little differently than last week. I wasn’t feeling well Monday so I took the day off to get some rest and recover. The spices in the food are definitely something to get used too! Tuesday I went back to school and got to watch all the preparations for parents day on Friday. On that day the parents come to the school to watch the students perform a few songs, a dance and a skit, usually with a moral of some kind. The 5th graders I am working with have been taking the skit very seriously and it is obvious that they want to do the best for their parents. Watching them practice and try different facial expressions and voice tones makes me remember doing similar things when I was in grade school! The pressure of doing well is not lost on the teachers who are helping the students but they always do it with a smile and a laugh.
Even though school has only been back in session for a month, testing has begun and although I haven’t directly been involved in it, the importance of doing well is evident. Doing well on these tests is so crucial to their future, even as low as their elementary grades, and these kids take it very serious. The goal school for most of these kids is IIT or Indian Institute of Technology but their backup schools are ones like MIT, Harvard, or Stanford. There is a different feeling towards school here compared to the US. Here, the kids seem more interested in school and learning about the rest of the world. When the teacher asks a question, more than one hand shoots up and a chorus of ‘Ma’am! Ma’am!” breaks out. In a culture where the number of seats in good colleges is low, everyone wants to prove that they knew the answer, and, more of importantly, that they knew it first.
Education is valued a lot more here because a good education in a good school is hard to find and, in some cases, afford. The government requires that public schools take a certain percent of the surrounding village to let into their school for free. At some schools one is unable to tell the difference between children but at others the students are kept separate from the paying children until they get older. I thought this was a little strange until it was explained that keeping the students separated helped keep the village kids from becoming as rambunctious as the other kids and it also keeps bullying to a minimum. Even though I still don’t fully agree with the separation, I see the reasoning behind it.
I’m learning so much from both the teachers and the students and I can’t wait to see what the next 4 weeks hold!