A Short Note for the Parents, Teachers, and Students of AECS Magnolia 7-28-16

Dear Magnolia,Wow. It has definitely been a whirlwind of experiences teaching in your school. I feel like not long ago Taylor, Kayla and I were taking our first steps on our first day of school there. At first, it was chaos. Sound seemed to come from everywhere and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed all the time. We eventually settled into a routine and found our niche in the school. Talking with the teachers in between classes was so wonderful and everyone was so kind and welcoming. Rekha made and brought me some crazy delicious idli with ghee and sugar! Saumya invited us over to her house and to plays at a local theatre. I was asked at least twice after lunch if I had lunch, whether it was good, and if it was too spicy. All of the teachers were so sweet and made sure I had what I needed. They all worked so incredibly hard on putting their parents day performance together and it showed!

The students at Magnolia are something else entirely! The students are so eager to learn and they are never afraid to ask questions which is something you don’t always find. Their curiosity about the world is so encouraging and I know that all of these kids are going to do such great things in the world. My 5th grade class will always have a special place in my heart as the first class I taught in my life and I will never forget their patience.

Of course these students wouldn’t be who they were without their parents encouraging them and helping them along the way. It is nice to see parents so involved in their student’s school and I thank them for allowing me to teach their amazing children.

Magnolia is such a wonderful school and I really am thankful that I was placed there. These past few weeks in the school will stay in my memory forever.

With love,

Laura

The Stages of Study Abroad 7-26-16

Before coming on this study abroad trip we were required to complete an orientation online about studying abroad. In part of the orientation it talked about the different emotional stages you go through as you are abroad. I thought it might be true but I didn’t really think much of it after reading it and I pushed it to the back of my mind. I came to find out that it is all true! When we first arrived, everything was new and interesting and I said “WOW” a lot. The honeymoon stage was in full swing!
When about the third week rolled around for about 3 days I was done. I wanted to go home so badly and I missed my family and friends so much. My roommate Taylor said to me while I was complaining, “You know you’re in the homesick stage? (AKA the culture shock/confrontation stage) You will probably be over it in a few days.” Then it hit me what she was talking about and that she was right! I looked up the document in the orientation and I could actually follow my position as I moved along the trip.

Now, of course, I am at the stage where I don’t want to leave! I am so comfortable and confident with my surroundings! All of the friends I have made here and the relationships with my students are so valuable to me and I want to stay! Looking back I can confirm, at least for me, that the stages of studying abroad is a real thing! You love it, you want to go home, you love it again, and then you leave. Coming to India has definitely changed who I am as an educator and a person. You never know I might have to be dragged on the plane kicking and screaming!!

Football, Cricket, and Girl Guides Galore! 7-20-16

The students at Magnolia have at least one activity period a day where they can move and get their energy out. Dance, yoga and exercises are some of the choices. The ones I have enjoyed most, strangely enough, have involved sports!

Last week and this week I was able to go with my fifth graders down to their PE class. First up was attempting cricket! Now at first it seemed like baseball with funky shaped bats. But wow it’s much more complicated! And having all the rules shouted at you by about 20 different 5th graders did not help my confusion, unfortunately. They finally handed me the bat, stepped back to a reasonable distance and….I missed. It took me a few more tries before I hit it and somehow managed to hit it so that I got an automatic 4 runs. Or something like that, I’m still not entirely sure about how the rules work to be honest. After successfully getting another run it was time to switch sides and I managed to miraculously catch a ball before it was time to return inside. I could definitely see myself playing cricket again in the future although I would like to understand it a little better before playing a real game.

This week for PE I attempted football, or soccer, with my 5th graders and let me tell you, these kids are amazing! The way they handled the ball and ran back and forth on the field was immensely impressive and it was obvious that they had grown up watching others play football. Obviously I am not athletic by any means but I got in there as best I could! Playing a fast paced, high intensity game under the hot Indian sun (which was a surprise because it’s usually either cloudy or raining this time of year) was a work out to say the least and everyone was throughly exhausted when we headed back inside. Surprisingly enough I really enjoyed playing football too and wouldn’t mind playing it in the future, although for now I think I will just stick to playing with my 5th graders.

Every Monday Saumya leads a Girl Guides class for 6th, 7th, and 8th standard. I was in Girl Scouts when I was in primary school and I was very eager to see the differences between the two. Glancing in their books it struck me how similar both groups were. We both learn about the history and founders of our respective organizations, the Girl Guides/Scout law and promise. We both go to camp, earn badges, and wear a uniform. For the class the girls usually wrote notes or played games and this time they taught me a game that was similar to another Indian sport called Kabaddi. In return I taught them one of my favorite games from camp, Ships and Sailors, and needless to say they loved it! With a promise to return again next week with another new game, we returned to class.

I really enjoyed playing and interacting more with the students besides just being a teacher. I think it makes closer bonds with them and students tend to look at you more as a friend or ally. One thing is for certain, I will definitely be back next week to see what other sports I can attempt!

Saree Not Sorry 7-18-16

One thing I was interested in with coming to India is the different clothing is the different clothing. Most Indian women do not wear clothing that is shorter than their knee and usually keep their shoulders covered. Although I have seen other girls wear jeans and a t-shirt, it still is not as common. Indian women wear what are called kurtas. These are basically longer shirts, usually with slits on the side and sometimes come with pockets. Most kurtas are very brightly colored and have matching leggings and scarves called duppattas.

For more formal occasions sarees are worn. When you go to purchase a saree, there are many different pieces to buy and steps to go through before it is able to be worn. The saree usually comes as a 6 to 9 yard piece of fabric with a special end piece that is used to make the blouse. You also need to get a petticoat to tuck the saree into. When you take the fabric to the tailor he will measure you and make the blouse to your body. This part was especially neat for me because I got to see the different tools they use for constructing outfits and compare them to the ones we use. About a week later you get your blouse back from the tailor and you finally have all the pieces! Indian women may have anywhere from 20 to 70 sarees and many get quite a few when they get married.
Once you have the saree, putting it on is a whole other obstacle! I brought mine to school and asked some of the ladies from the custodial staff to wrap me. I could attempt to tell you how they did it but I would not do it justice. Wrapping someone in a saree is an art form and everyone does it differently. All the folds and tucks and pleats had to be perfect and these women really were amazing. A saree is not complete without jewelry and Saumya kindly lent us some of her beautiful jewelry for the day. After applying bindis to our forehead, we were ready!
I felt like a princess! There is something about wearing a saree that makes you sit up a little taller and walk a little bit more graceful. Walking up stairs was a different story for sure! I can’t count how many times I stepped on my saree walking up and down the stairs, thankfully the women who wrapped my saree did a very good job! I can understand why wearing sarees everyday isn’t as common anymore, although I personally enjoy the chance to get all fancy every so often!

First Lesson 7-13-16

Since I am not yet into Phase II of the College of Education program, I have never actually taught a lesson before! Jumpstart has given me some experience on how to work with children in a classroom setting but even that could not have prepared me for today. Last night I had a plan to take a quick nap and wake up and finish planning my lesson. Well that didn’t happen. Instead I slept through my alarm and instead woke up this morning at my usual time. I had a basic outline of what I wanted to do so I quickly finished up before we left the house and on the car ride there. Magnolia doesn’t have much technology in their classrooms so I relied on my IPad and the handy dandy chalk board! The lesson was on climate and weather so I showed them pictures of different examples of each and talked about the different types of climates and how to tell the difference. I planned on having to stop and tell the kids to quiet down but they were so attentive that I finished my lesson with 10 minuets to spare! I didn’t know what to do at that point but Saumya saved the day! She started a review of what they had learned so they could clarify and doubts they had.I’m so thankful to have her as a teacher! All in all I think the kids understood what I was saying and, more importantly, will remember it for the future! 

The rest of the day was spent in other classes and helping check notes. I taught a short lesson on seasons based on the Earth’s rotation, which proved to be a little bit more tricky to grasp, and then we were on our way back home! Both Saumya and Tony gave me great feedback so that tomorrow’s lesson on climate factors will go even smother!

I’m so excited that this will be my job for the rest of my life! The look on a students face when it clicks for them is amazing! Here’s to teaching the next generation of leaders!

Who Wants To Play Jeopardy?

As it is every Monday, it was very hard to get out of bed and get ready but once I arrive to school I am always excited to be there! This morning was no different and like always I was greeted with a chorus of “Hi Ma’am!”. This morning grades 3-5 were taking their maths exam and I got to watch for a bit. I wanted to be able to answer their questions but one look at the 5th standard math sheet and I was very confused! The different words they use for different symbols and such left me with more questions than they had! (I did learn that a lakhs is equal to 100,000.)

After completely confusing myself with maths, I went with Saumya outside for Girl Guides class. I had been a Girl Scout when I was younger so it was really neat to share my experiences and hear theirs! Here it is Girl Guides and it seems to be more like a class with notes about history and life skills but in regards to guides. We did play some games and I got to teach them how to play a classic America Girl Scout game: Ships and Sailors! They really enjoyed playing and I really enjoyed watching them have a great time!

Today my 5th standard class had a free activity time during 9th peroid so Saumya suggested I come up with an educational yet fun game to play! So I decided to set up a Jeopardy game that was some a review of their social studies and some new facts about the U.S.! I was very nervous to be in charge of the class for the first time ever even if it was for something just as simple as a game. Starting the game took a little time but once it got going there was no stopping it! All of the kids were so into the game and I’m positive you could hear the yells of triumph and moans of defeat from down the hall! I thought it would end up being the team not in a negative number but as the game continued on, the kids got down to business and quickly went through the categories. We were so into the game we didn’t realize that it was time to leave and I ran down stairs to catch my ride home. All in all it was a very fun experience, although I think the kids might say the questions were a little too hard! But in my defense, it was my first time! Can’t wait to teach again soon!

P.S. Look at the names on the left sid of the board and you will see their team names. How creative are these kids?!

Let’s Go To The Zoo! 7-11-16

Today we woke up and loaded in the traveler for a trip to the zoo! The road there was bumpy and at one point it seemed like we had left Bangalore behind! Once we arrived there was a little confusion regarding what we were taking on the safari, as there were several options, but we finally got on a bus and drove into the park! I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this experience was because words would not do it justice! Most of the time I just sat in amazement saying “WOW.” Over and over again. We saw elephants, tigers, bears, lions, and deer! Almost all of the animals walked up and around our bus and if we reached out the windows we could touch them, probably losing a limb in the process, but they were that close. The whole tour took about an hour and a half but I could have definitely stayed longer. When we finished we decided to go again but this time in a jeep! With the jeep we could get even closer to the animals even though most of them were taking a mid morning nap. We finished the jeep tour and then made a quick stop in the butterfly house which had many beautiful flowers and plants. Lunch was very filling and delicious thanks to Manila, our amazing host for the trip! By that time we were all so tired we got back in the car and some of us were sleeping within seconds.
I had never been on a safari of any kind and I am looking forward to possibly doing it again in the states, though, I don’t think any other one would be able to top this experience!