Our trip is coming to end. I am writing this as I lay on the bed in a hotel in Delhi. Only a few hours until we leave and head to the airport and head back to The States. It is bittersweet because I miss my family and friends and I am excited to start student teaching but I am so sad because I already miss my students at Vidyashilp. I had such a great time in Bangalore and this trip was life changing. I learned so much about myself and who I want to be as a teacher. I will be forever grateful to everyone who made it possible to come on this trip including Mr. and Mrs. Smith, my parents, and my grandma. I will also be attached to Bangalore for my whole life. They truly have a piece of my heart now and I am so happy I got to come here at this point in my life.
Our last week was jam packed with things to do and classes to see. Everyday at school I was running around the whole time trying to make it to every class I could possibly get to. Many of the kids would come up to me and tell me that I hadn’t been to their class yet and they knew it was almost time for me to go home. I had to explain to them that I had limited time and I wouldn’t be able to make it to every class but I would miss each and everyone of them. I did the best I could but I realized I would not be able to be in five places at once.
On the last day we started with an assembly where Liz and I got to speak. I wrote a letter to the student body and I was able to read it to everyone. It was hard to read it to everyone because I was a little choked up. When I read the letter it became more real and it hit me that I was actually leaving. After the assembly I went to the aerobics class that I usually go to. The girls and I became very close over the six weeks and they threw us a party with cake and chips and everything! A few of the girls made a puppet show and solo dances to perform for us. It hit me right in the heart. Several of th
e girls I’m closest with, Avika, Kinishka, and Paulak, in the aerobics class started balling when I read my thank you letter to their specific class and it really got me. Paulak, one of the girls who I have been with since day one, got me a book. In fact the amount of presents, notes, and candy I got from the students was overwhelming. It made me realize how much I can make an impact in such a short amount of time. It made me feel so special and appreciated which is interesting because it’s exactly the same way I feel about all of them. By the end of the day I was emotional and did not want to say my final goodbyes. But the time came anyways and I gave my last hugs to my kiddos, teachers, and Selvi.
We didn’t have a lot of time to be sad though because we had to finish packing and the next morning we flew to Delhi! Today we saw the Taj Mahal: one of the seven wonders of the world. It was a scorcher but it was incredible. The history behind is so interesting to me. I can’t even put into words how breathtaking it was, and not just because of the heat! It is all marble, and symmetrical besides when the Kings tomb was added when he died. The precision it would take is unfathomable. It took two years to plan what it was going to be and twenty-two years to build. The original plan was to have the white Taj on one side of the river and a black Taj on the other side of the river: one for the wife and one for the husband. It did not work out but we are left with one of the most amazing pieces of architecture in the world. After seeing it, it is no surprise it is considered one of the seven wonders. It was a very unique experience and I am so glad I got to end my trip with some of my best friends seeing such a wonderful sight.
Thank everyone who kept up with my blog and followed my journey. It means so much to me to share this with other people.
My journey to Missouri begins,
Last week the buses decided to strike. They wanted a 30% raise in their pay before they were going to work. When the buses were not running it debilitated half the city who relies on public transportation. This also meant no school buses. Some of the teachers also rely on the school buses to get them to school. As you can imagine this interrupted the school days. DPS North, DPS East, Magnolia, and Vidyashilp were all cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday Magnolia had school but the student teachers who were placed there were advised not to attend because they could potentially be effected by the strike. On Thursday everybody was back in school except for my school: Vidyashilp. This left Liz and I with almost a full week off of school. Believe it or not we were itching to get back to school because we love it so much.
On our days off we shopped too much and spent way more than we wanted to. During our shopping it made me think about how different the shopping is in The States. Here you get to barter because there is rarely a set price on an item. Some shops are more difficult. For example if we go to the mall everything has a price tag and it is not negotiable. When you are on Commercial Street it is a different story. Commercial Street is the hub of the city. There are people everywhere, squeezing to get through everyone. I have not been to New York but I imagine it is similar to walking in Times Square. My anxiety kicks in when I am in situations like that. I think it is because my senses get so overwhelmed. With all the smells, people, and so many items to look at it is hard not to get sensory overload. If I mentally prepare myself I can usually do okay.
I did not think I would like to barter because I thought I would be so anxious to just buy what I want and get out but I surprised myself. I enjoy going back and forth trying to get the best price possible. It is almost like a game that is very entertaining. It is difficult sometimes though because I do not know what a good price on certain items are so I have probably over paid on some things. I like to think that I am pretty good at it after five weeks. Doing that all the time might get exhausting but it has been fun the few times I have made it to commercial street.
Although I made the most of our days off I would’ve preferred to go to school. After six days away from the students and teachers I missed them terribly. Now we are beginning our last week at the schools and I am so sad. I am going to miss everyone so much. These last few days are going to be tough because I don’t know if or when I am going to see these people again and they have made such a big impact on my life. I am definitely making the most of my time here.
The group had the opportunity to go to the Art of Living Ashram. I was on the fence about going because I had so much to do in preparation for school. In the end I decided to go and I am very happy I did. It was about an hour journey to the Ashram and it was filled with great friends and good conversations.
When we got there it was unexpected scene. This place was so large with shops, ponds, and several different temples. In my head I envisioned one temple on the side of a street like the other temples we’ve seen. But I was soon to realize that most of what I imagined was completely wrong. I was fine with this and was totally open to whatever came my way. I also was expecting to be silent the entire time, while sitting criss cross with my eyes closed. I thought there would be men in white robes leading the meditation. I realize now that my prior knowledge was very limiting and very inaccurate. In reality it was a beautiful lush grounds sitting on top of a hill that overlooked the city with people all over visiting and shopping. Our first stop was to visit an outdoor area that looked like a ceremonial place. it had gazebos surrounding it and in the middle was a small pond and stage. It was so beautiful. Thats where I thought we would be meditating but yet again I was wrong.
We went up the hill to this huge temple. The details of it were so intricate. The steps to enter were marble and there were figurines on the steps that represent some Indian culture. When you walk in it is a circular building with steps leading down to the alter. I really enjoyed the high ceilings and circular design. It was so open and welcoming. Being in a meditation temple that is foreign to me was nice to feel welcomed. We realized that the actual meditation did not start until 6 and we had originally thought it was at 4:30 so we had some time to kill. But being in the temple even though nothing was happening was very relaxing. It was a nice time to reflect about this trip and remember what we came here for. It made me realize that I have probably made several life long friends while doing something I have such a passion for: teaching. These people have something so precious to me in common and it has been amazing to share this experience with them.
When the meditation finally began I was expecting something totally different. At first it
was silent except for one man humming. Thats what I thought it was going to be the whole time but boy was I wrong. After about 5 minutes of humming they started singing and chanting. The whole temple was singing along and dancing. Several of the men were standing up and made a circle and jumped up and down. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was almost like a meditation party. It is the only way I can think to describe it. After the initial shock of it being more of a dance than a silent meditation I joined in in the clapping and dancing. I was not brave enough to get up and join the women who were dancing but I did dance on my little pillow while I watched.
When we finished meditation we looked outside and it was pouring down rain in true monsoon fashion. We were very far away from our car and none of us had umbrellas so there was no choice but to just go for it. We went for it and got pretty soaked as we ran down the hill to the first shop. We got ahold of our driver to come pick us up from there. Finally we got on the bus and headed home. It was quite the experience and I am so glad I got to witness something so different than what I am used to. It was a fun time and a great learning experience.
Until next time,
Last week Vidyashilp, DPS East, and Magnolia went on a field trip with the 6th standard from Shilp to the government school near by. We were just like one of them on this trip. We all got on the same bus and were squished together in true field trip fashion. The school was about 30 minutes away so to entertain themselves they started to sing popular songs, many of which we knew and joined in. It was a pretty fun bus r
ide to be honest.
When we got there we were greeted by several kids who only knew how to say “hi” and “bye.” They all seemed thrilled to see us. One of the men who helps run the school introduced himself and asked us student teachers where we were from and about ourselves and what we were doing here. After a pleasant conversation we all gathered in the main hall which seemed to be where they have presentations. The students from the government school and Vidyashilp got into groups: 3 from each school were paired together. In each group the Shilp students had brought a lesson to teach the other students. Many of them did not speak proper English so they made sure there was at least one student who spoke Kanada in the group. I walked around and noticed the mutual respect and genuine curiosity to learn. It was a very cool sight to see.
While the students were teaching, we got a tour of the grounds. We got to see several classrooms including the library. It was very small compared to Shilp and what were used to. It was eye opening to see what most of the students here are accustomed to. Many people say majority of the students only come to school to get a hot meal because otherwise they wouldn’t get one. It is crazy what we take for granted. I can tell everyone that I will never take my classroom or school supplies, or lack there of, for granted. I am so grateful for everything I have here in Bangalore and in the States.
The joy in the students faces was contagious and it makes you realize people who have a lot less than you can still be so happy. It is amazing to see. Some of us thought they may have known we were coming because all the girls were wearing very fancy dresses. They were so excited to see all of us and trying to speak to us as best they could. The whole experience was one I would not trade for anything. It made me so happy to see their smiles as we were on the bus waving goodbye.
When Courtney, Liz, and I first got to Vidyashilp we were given an assignment from Selvi Ma’am. She and the 11th standard english teacher wanted us to create a lesson on personal narratives that would prepare them for college. Along with a lesson she wanted us to create an assignment for them to do. All three of us were working on it for several weeks. Unfortunately Courtney had to leave the trip early due to an illness but Liz and I continued to work on it. By the time we finished our presentation we felt very confident about it. However I was nervous to teach a lesson to secondary students. That is not at all what I am used to and it made me uncomfortable because it is so different than the elementary students I am used to teaching. I had just taught my second grade lesson two days prior and was still on a high from that. I was afraid the students would ask me questions I did not know the answer to and if I messed up that they would laugh and judge me. These were all irrational fears because after it was all said and done, I had a great time teaching them. Liz and I went to the classroom very early to get everything set up and ready to go because we wanted to prepare for any technical issues we had. It went very smooth and we spent the rest of the time reviewing our presentation and deciding who would say what. When the time came and no one had shown up yet we started to get nervous and wondered where they were and if they were still coming. Our fears were settled when people started trickling in after about five minutes of waiting.
Finally we got started and again all my nervous left and we were on a roll. Our plans were unnecessary because once we got going we were in a groove. We did not stick to our plan, we did not read off the slides. It flowed and it went a lot better than I expected. It was a lot of fun because it was very interactive. We would show them a picture of something like a mountain, baby, or chocolate chip cookies and have them write a short paragraph using different aspects of writing. We focused on imagery, descriptions, sensory writing, and emotions. It was interesting to see how they interpreted the images we showed them. Listening to them share was insightful because these students are so talented. The language they use is so vivid and seemed well beyond their years. Many of them were nervous to share in front of the class but they shouldn’t have been because they were all so incredibly bright. I am very impressed with their writing skills. We will get to read their personal narratives before we leave and I am anxiously awaiting the time when they are done. We gave them a minimum of two pages but I have a feeling that most of them will be more than that based on all the great ideas they have.
They had the option to choose from a time they stepped out of their comfort zone and an event that changed their life. I thought these choices were good for several reasons. One, because college essays use these prompts often and it will prepare them and get them thinking in that fashion. Second, because this whole assignment got me to step out of my comfort zone and I realized that I do enjoy teaching older students. I should be confident in my abilities and not worry what the students will think of me. Stepping out of my comfort zone was an experience I will not forget and maybe even lead me to some new opportunities. Elementary school has my heart but I am definitely open to new things and maybe every now and then I could visit a high school and do workshops. Who knows what the future holds. All I know is that I am thankful for the experience and am grateful to be here.
I finally got to teach a lesson! I taught a second grade class and it was a blast. It was the second lesson in a series of three geometry lessons. They were learning about lines, line segments, points, and shapes. I had spent a week or so planning a lesson and activity and was confident that I made a good lesson for my first try. I had a feeling the students would love the activity I planned to go along with the teaching portion of it. I was teaching at the end of the day and I became more and more nervous as the day went on. I have taught in The States before but they have only been mini lessons and with a much smaller group. When the time finally came I gathered my things and made my way down the hall to the second grade class that was waiting for me. My host teacher was in the back of the room observing and was there in case I needed anything. I had her take a few pictures of me while I was teaching so I could capture the moment. When I began I reviewed what they had learned the previous day. I started my presentation and from there it just felt natural. The students were paying attention and engaged in what I was teaching. When I asked a question they were jumping out of their seats begging me to call on them. Unfortunately I got through my lesson quicker than expected but I came up with an activity on the fly to occupy the last 10-15 minutes. I felt like I was in my element. This is why I came here.
When I went back for the second part of my lesson the students were just as excited. They were absolutely thrilled to see me. This was the activity portion of what we learned. I gave each group a set of shapes that we had learned a few days prior. They were to make a monster using the shapes they were given. When they finished making their monster they had to write down how many of each shape they used and they properties of each. This period was only 30 minutes so we did not have a lot of time to get things done. There were definitely some glitches that could have been avoided like not getting the shape cut outs until right before the lesson. I spent too much time trying to sort through the shapes I gave them so that each group would have the same amount of each shape. I wish I had gotten them from their recycled paper mill earlier so I could have prepared the shape sets before I got there. Over all though it went really well and they had a lot of fun. They had to finish the rest of the activity without me unfortunately but I am looking forward to seeing them all finished on Monday.
Teaching in front of a class of 35 students felt so natural to me. As soon as I started teaching and speaking in front of them all of my nerves went away. Their excitement and energy made me so happy. Even though not everything went as planned I still enjoyed every minute of it. As a teacher it is rare that everything go according to plan so I think this experience just further prepared me to take on my student teaching in the fall. If I had to summarize my entire junior year at Mizzou in one word it would be reflection. I am starting to understand just how powerful reflection is and why it is so important. It is a learning experience and by reflecting on how my lesson went I know what I need to do next time. Practice makes perfect and that is certainly true in teaching as well. Teaching these students has been a dream and I am so grateful for this experience because it is priceless. The amount of knowledge I have gained and the experiences I can take back to The States is immeasurable. I am so confident in my decision to be a teacher. It feels like I was born to teach and I finally figured it out. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life but I am so happy I discovered my passion for teaching. The students ignite something in me that fuels my excitement. When I looked back at the pictures my host teacher took, you can see the joy in my face.
The love I have for teaching continues to grow every single time I step in front of a class. It is such an underrated profession and it makes me sad because if it weren’t for teachers there would be no doctors, CEO’s, engineers, etc. A teacher holds the knowledge everybody wants and it is taken for granted. We need to appreciate our teachers and value it as much as any other profession. It baffles me that when you ask the students what they want to be when they grow up they don’t give you answers like dancer, singer, actress, astronaut, etc. They want to be doctors, engineers, and lawyers. Kids who are six years old are already on track to be a doctor when they grow up. We have had some interaction with secondary students as well and they are shocked that we are going to school to be teachers. Not many students set out to be teachers in India. Yet the teachers at Vidyashilp are out of this world. They are so intelligent and skilled in their subject. They want the best for their students just like we all do and even though their teaching style is very different from ours, it is very effective. Now that I have a taste of teaching, I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.
I have spent so much time here in Bangalore pushing myself 150mph and wanting to experience everything I can. All of that fun activity came to a abrupt halt Wednesday the 13th of July. That evening I started to feel uneasy. My tummy had been bothering me the past couple of days and now I was freezing when previously I was comfortable in our air conditioned room. One of my migraines crept over me and by 9:30pm I was feeling very ill. I was letting my anxiety take over my thoughts and eventually it led to a panic attack. I have not had one in so long so I failed to bring my medicine with me to India. I found Jill, and being the angel that she is, she helped calm me and gave me big hugs. Sometimes a hug can cure anything. That night was a struggle to get through. I was shivering and chattering my teeth. Unfortunately, I ran out of blankets. I resorted to piling up my towels on my bed because I wanted to be able to sleep. That did not work either. I was still up every two hours and by 6am I woke up in a cold sweat. Assuming my fever broke I was able to sleep for another hour before Jill came to check on me. She took my temperature and I had another fever which solidified me not going to school that day. Jill brought me some toast to get something in my system before she left for school. I was so sad because I did not want to disappoint anyone at Vidyashilp but I knew I better go to the doctor to figure out what was going on.
Suman took me to Vikram hospital around 10am and we realized that the doctor did not arrive until 11am. By this time, I was miserable and sweaty. My migraine raged on, my fever broke again so I was unnaturally hot, and my tummy was not happy with me. We decided the best bet was to go to the ER. I got in immediately which I was not expecting because in the US even in the ER it takes quite some time to get seen. I was taken to a bed and described my situation to several nurses and doctors. They all advised me to get some IV fluids, and they wanted a blood sample. Quickly enough I was hooked up to an IV and resting until my blood work came back. In the meantime I was examined by several doctors. They thought my symptoms suggested I had eaten something bad which caused an infection in my stomach but since I let it go for a few days, it got worse which resulted in a fever. Finally, I was able to rest while the doctors discussed what they were going to do and waiting for my results. It seemed like ages before I got my blood work back but when I did, it showed that I had a bad bacterial infection and severe dehydration. The doctors decided I needed more fluids and antibiotics so they started two doses of the medicine in my IV for quick relief.
After three hours or so I was leaving the hospital with a folder full of directions to follow. I had four different medications that would get me to feeling better. They wanted me to be admitted to the hospital but I wanted to go to the Coorg and Mysore trip with the group so I decided to take the oral medicine and promise to hydrate myself as best I could. When we left I was still feeling very weak and tired but my fever and migraine were gone. When I got home I rested until I met with Tony. We decided that it would be best for my health if I stay home for part of the weekend and meet the group in Mysore. Reluctantly, I agreed because even though I was dying to see the elephants and Coorg I needed to put my health first.
What was so surprising to me was the difference in the health care here in India. I have had my fair share of medical bills this past year in The States because I had surgery and several appointments leading up to and following the procedure. I dread going to another appointment because I know how expensive health care is, and even with insurance the bills continue to grow. Going to the hospital here, I was expecting the same amount and was unsure how I was going to cover everything. When they told me the total and I converted it to American dollars it was under $100. From the ER visit, consult, IV fluids, IV antibiotics, medicines I took home, etc. all of it was an affordable price without a single bit of insurance. It got me thinking that this is how I wish The States handled their health care. The Indians are very well educated and are extremely intelligent doctors. They are just as capable if not more as the doctors in The States. Health care should be affordable for everyone even if they do not have insurance. One visit to the ER is thousands of dollars and it makes me sick to my stomach thinking that if I needed emergency care I would sacrifice being in debt. I do not know what there is to do about it, but it would be nice if someone could figure it out. I am sure everyone would appreciate it.
As of now I am feeling much better and still on my medication so I heal fully. I was lucky enough to see the Mysore Palace light up and it was so beautiful. I am still taking it easy until I feel 100% again. But I am not going to miss out on anything else! I am determined to stay hydrated and healthy so I can experience everything.
Until next time,