It seems strange that our time is up here in India. We have had so many adventures and learned a great deal, I even felt like Bangalore was starting to become my home. The last few days have been very busy. We’ve flown to Delhi, drove to Agra, spent the night, seen the Taj Mahal, seen Agra Fort, drove back to Delhi, and now we are on a plane en route to the USA. 5 hours into my 30 hours of travel time, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the things I will miss about the great country of India and more specifically the city of Bangalore and DPS-North. The following is a condensed list of all the things I will miss as I arrive home in the states.
(All the Ma’ams :))
The students at DPS
Tea time with Geeta Ma’am
Brownie (the stray dog that Casa Cottage has basically adopted
The staff at Casa Cottage
Daily naps on the way home from school
Amazing coffee from Coorg
Anklets and toe rings
Jasmine in people’s hair
DPS all white uniforms
Random cows in the street
Rangaswami (our rickshaw driver turned friend)
Students calling glasses “specs” and markers “sketch pens”
Friendship bands from 5H
Kindness of everyone I have encountered
I will miss so much about the beautiful place that I have spent 6 weeks. So much so that this list barely even begins to scratch the surface. Thank you to India, University of Missouri, College of Ed, International Knowledge Center, Gabrielle, Girish, Tony, Suman, DPS-North, donors, and everyone who helped create this amazing opportunity. I have learned so much and made so many memories that I will never forget. Goodbye India…for now.
Yesterday Manju Ma’am, our principal at DPS-North, took us to a few schools in the city of Bangalore. It was really cool to see the different schools and the way they differ from one another. The first two schools we went to were run by the central government of India and the last was run by a trust.
The first school we went to is called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV). We arrived at JNV and saw a beautiful campus that seemed remote compared to most places we have seen in the city of Bangalore. It was peaceful and quiet and we were greeted by one of their students with a flower.
After having tea with the principal we learned that JNV is run by the central government of India. Their goal is to bring quality education to the rural children living in villages around the state of Karnataka. The school requires children to take an entrance exam to attend, so only the gifted ones in the rural areas are accepted. Their school starts in grade 6 and goes on to grade 12. In India school works a little bit differently, high school consists of 9th and 10th grade and 11th and 12th are considered junior college. So students have the option to leave school after 10th grade and start working, or take a difficult test to continue onto 11th and 12th. Most that enter JNV in the 6th grade do not know English so they begin learning once they are accepted into the school. We were given a tour of the quaint campus and then had tea with the principal and his wife. The food was lovely and afterwards the cook showed us the kitchen, the pots used to cook were almost equivalent to the size of bathtubs. In regards to food, the school provides three meals a day, education, and dorms on campus for all the students to live in. So not one cent comes from the parents or children. It was amazing to see such a well run and successful school with 99.3% of students moving onto University after graduation, that is funded completely by the government. It is evident that India takes education very seriously. America—take notes please. As we were touring campus we walked into a smaller version of a lecture hall at Mizzou and introduced ourselves to a 12th standard statistics class. Manju Ma’am told us we were talking to the smartest 12th standard students in the city—just a little intimidating. After our tour we left having learned a lot and we were on our way to the next school.
We arrived at Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) a little bit after 11. Their system is similar to those of JNV’s as it is run/funded by the central government of India. Differing from JNV, KV has grades 1-12 and the students do not live on campus. The school caters to children from the rural populations as well as those with parents in government jobs who travel frequently. There are a lot of KV schools all over the country of India so it is convenient for those who move so that their children can follow the same curriculum as their last KV school.
On the way, Manju Ma’am told us that she and her brother attended KV schools because her father was in the armed forces. She attended 10 different schools in her 12 years of schooling. That seemed difficult to us, but she told us she loved it because it was always a new adventure. We had another tour and again had coffee with the principal. (Our caffeine intake was at an all time high this morning). On our tour we visited with a 12th standard class and answered questions about the college application process and traveling to the US for schooling. Many were interested in the idea of coming to the states. Afterward, we talked to the headmistress of the primary block and a few of the teachers as well. It was a very enjoyable visit and we had a lot of new information.
The last school we visited was called Parikrama, and this one was truly my favorite. Unlike the first two, Parikrama is funded by a trust to pay for the student’s education, food, and healthcare. The school only takes students in the worst situations; they have social workers that do extensive research to take those who are most in need. Students at Parikrama come from the slums of India, orphanages, and villages. There are four Parikrama schools in the city of Bangalore and one with junior college (11th and 12th.)
When we walked in we saw kids playing kabbadi, an Indian game of tag, much more aggressive, but that is the best way to describe it. They were running around shouting and having a great time. We talked to the principal about their goals as a school and then took a tour of the classrooms. The principal told us that the mothers and fathers of some of the students are employed at the school as cooks or bus drivers. It is so cool that they employ the parents in need so that they can receive a steady income. As we were taking our tour we went into an upper-kindergarten classroom where the students had just learned English. These kids were absolutely adorable trying to pronounce our names and singing us songs. We had such a wonderful time at this school and I really felt a connection there. As I was walking out I turned and looked at the school; I knew I would be back.
Everyday we spend here in India is much more cherished than the last as the end draws near. We spend as much time as possible keeping ourselves busy so we don’t have to think about the few and final days left at our schools. Here is an update on what I have been doing to keep the blues away. This past week on Wednesday (when we didn’t have school because of the bus strikes) Ayesha and Deepa took Jill, Liz, Laura, and I to Commercial Street for a little bit of shopping. Ayesha and Deepa are senior counselors at DPS-North and we have spent quite a bit of time with them as well as observing their impressive Psychology classes. We have been to Commercial Street before, but this time was a whole new experience because we were with experts who knew exactly where to go to get good deals. We would not have been able to find these great shops without their help as some were tucked in alleys and corners we didn’t even notice before. Laura and Jill were feeling the Indian vibes as Laura got her nose pierced and Jill got her ear pierced. I held Laura’s hand as the man shoved the earring through her nose; she took the pain like a champ! After a lot of shopping and bargaining we decided to go to lunch. Ayesha and Deepa got us rickshaws and told us to hide while they bargained for a price because when rickshaw drivers see Americans, they tend to jack up the prices. We thought this was pretty funny and also true because we have gotten ripped off one too many times trying to get rides home. We finished off the afternoon at a restaurant called Elements and sat outside on the patio and had some delicious food.
This Friday Abby and I went to dinner with one of her favorite teachers, whom she is paired with frequently, Maher. Maher had brought along her husband, and two adorable little girls. We went to one of their family’s favorite restaurants in Frazer Town called Savoury. The restaurant served authentic Arabic food which Abby and I have both never tried. The food consisted of a lot of spicy chicken on kabobs, chicken on the bone, buttered naan, hummus, and garlic sauce so needless to say it was AMAZING. I have a newfound love for Arabic food. Maher told us about how she and her husband, Sohab, met when they were quite young. They both claim that they were on a train, saw each other, and it was love at first sight. They then went on to get married and have two adorable girls who were hysterically funny. Faluk, one of Maher’s daughters, loves chicken so as soon as the chicken was set down on the table she grabbed as much as she could. Her reaction was so funny when her parents told her she had to share; she wasn’t very happy. We had such a great time getting to know Maher and her family outside of school. Since we had a late dinner the little girls were falling asleep at the table (not going to lie, I was too), so we left and they kindly drove us back home after giving us a quick tour of the hotspots of Bangalore. It was so nice to be with a family here in India and definitely made me miss mine even more.
On Saturday it was another day filled with visiting teachers outside of school and getting a feel for Indian hospitality. Sowmya, our coordinator who we spend most of our time with at DPS-North, (also our Indian Mom) invited us over to meet her family before we were to head over to Suniti’s house. Suniti is the wonderful teacher that let me teach my first lesson to her class and that I am frequently paired with. Sowmya and Suniti live in the same building so it was very convenient for us to stop by both places on the same evening. Abby, Jill, and I came over to Sowmya’s for tea and met her family that we have heard so much about. Sowmya’s family is so sweet, just like her, and again it was so exciting to see her interact with her family versus her students. Her family asked us a lot of questions about what our trip entailed and what we had explored in Bangalore over the past 5 weeks. Finally putting faces to names was great because we had heard so many great things about her family members. Including that they love Modern Family and Doritos. Nikhil, Sowmya’s son, told us about all of the foods that he loves from America including Oreos, Jif peanut butter, Doritos, Chips Ahoy, Cheerios, and much more. He told us that his dad brings back a lot when he travels to and from the US for work. We told him that next time we visited we would bring back as much as we could in our suitcases for him. Of course the whole time we were there Sowmya impressed us with her hospitality bringing us tea, apples, cookies, and so many snacks. They also gave us a tour of their beautiful home. I think if I lived in Sowmya’s home my favorite part would be all of the balconies with outstanding views of the city and palm trees below. At night everything was lit up so it really was a sight to see. Sowmya Ma’am if you are reading this you must come visit us in Missouri. 🙂
After our visit to Sowmya’s house we walked through the apartment complex to Suniti’s home. She lives there with her husband and two children Rohan and Suti. Suniti’s in-laws, Rajat’s parents, were also their visiting from Delhi. Suniti is so sweet and waited on us the whole time bringing appetizers and drinks to us as soon as we entered her home. Suniti is a new teacher to DPS as her family just moved to Bangalore from Delhi. Her husband, Rajat, is transferred frequently for his job so they have lived in many places over the years including Ghana, Delhi, Bangalore, and many others. What an adventurous life moving every few years to new cities and countries! They told us they were probably going to stay put in Bangalore for a few years but the place that they call home will always be Delhi. We are going to Delhi this upcoming Friday so they told us places to visit and what we should expect when visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra. Suniti prepared a lovely traditional North Indian meal with so much to choose from. There was chat, pasta, bhatura, salad, and chickpea curry. I made sure to tell her kids
how lucky they were to have such an amazing cook in the family! We finished off the evening talking about places they have traveled along with lots of conversation about school. That’s what happens when you get a bunch of teachers together, they just end up talking lesson plans and schoolwork. In fact, Suniti said that she told the head of the science department at DPS about my lesson and that she had all of the other 3rd standard teachers change their lessons to incorporate the activity I came up with. This was such a great compliment for me and really cool to hear from such an amazing teacher.
We have had so much fun visiting with our teachers and learning more about them. I can’t believe we only have 6 days left in India and 4 days left at DPS. Is there anyway I can extend my visa?
There has been so much going on the last few days. It feels like since the end is near, things just keep getting busier and busier. I always feel like I want to lay down and take a nap, but there is never enough time! That is probably a good thing anyway because you know what they say, I can sleep when I’m dead!
This week has been a little bit different that the last few school wise. There was a citywide bus strike that called for school being cancelled on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I’m sure if I was a student in elementary school or high school I would have loved it if school were called off. It’s funny how now I feel the exact opposite! I really did miss the kids at DPS-North after our majorly extended weekend. However, just because we didn’t have school doesn’t mean we were not just as busy.
On Tuesday morning Abby, Jill, and I met Sowmya Ma’am and her parents at the ISKCON temple just 20 minutes from where we stay in Richmond Town. From the street below you can’t tell much about the size but once you climb the stairs you realize just how massive it is. The process to get into the temple took a little bit of time as we had to form a line and chant a verse praising Krishna on each stepping stone until we reached the inside of the temple. Sowmya said she thought there were probably around 51 step stones so we were chanting for around 15 minutes! The verse we chanted on each step was,
“hare kṛiṣhṇa hare kṛiṣhṇa
kṛiṣhṇa kṛiṣhṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma
rāma rāma hare hare.”
This is known as the Great Mantra and is chanted in the honor of the Hindu deity Krishna. According to the Hindu religion Krishna was a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. ISCKON stands for International Society for Krishna Consciousness also known as the Hare Krishna movement or Hare Krishnas. The ISCKON temple in Bangalore feeds students in need all over the city because they believe that no child should go without education because of hunger. They also feed everyone that comes into their temple a meal for free. Sowmya told us that she and her family have eaten there many times because the food is delicious. Apart from the delicious food the inside of the temple was absolutely incredible. Sadly we were not able to take pictures as it was against the temple’s policy but the pictures would not have been able to do the place justice. It seemed that everywhere you turned there was a gold plated statue or a colorful scene to look at. Even the ceilings were painted with murals of famous Krishna stories. As we were visiting the temple we sat down for a little while in the middle to just stop and look at all the beauty that surrounded us. Sowmya’s mother told us that she once took a trip in northern India, near Delhi, that stopped at all of the famous places that Krishna had once visited.
After we spent some time visiting the inside we all had lunch at the restaurant on the temples grounds, right outside. The restaurant is called Higher Taste and all of their food is made without onion, garlic, and eggs. Hare Krishnas do not eat these foods because they believe it makes the body impure and these foods cannot be offered to Krishna. If you are looking for more information on that, this is a good website: http://food.krishna.com/article/why-no-garlic-or-onions
The food was absolutely delicious and we were all stuffed by the end of it. We are so grateful to Sowmya for always making sure we have an amazing experience whether at school, or around town in Bangalore. We had such a fun day and learned a lot in the process.
We have continued to have extremely busy weeks and weekends here in Bangalore, and this weekend was no exception. Saturday morning, Abby and I attended one of Geeta Ma’am’s (our vice principal) famous cooking classes at DPS. We were joined by two 10th standard girls, Zoya and Saaraah, that take Home Science as an elective. We started off the class going over the different types of cooking: cooking with dry heat, cooking with moist heat, and frying. We then went over the different ways you can cook through each of these categories. For example, roasting a chicken would be cooking with dry heat and boiling a potato would be cooking with moist heat. Geeta Ma’am did a wonderful job of explaining the different types of cooking and I have to say it was interesting to learn the logistics behind throwing some vegetables on the pan.
After she was done giving us some background info, we started to cook. We started off peeing potatoes and frying them in a pan with a little bit of oil. Geeta Ma’am sliced them very thin so that they would look like French fries. While in the pan she added some chili powder to add some spice (of course) because Indian’s love their spicy food! We then decided to experiment and fry some carrots. They surprisingly tasted pretty good and very sweet. After experimenting, Geeta told us we were going to make a stew/gravy with tomatoes, onions, carrots, water, masala, and some herbs. She put all of this in a pressure cooker—sort of like a crockpot—and in a few minutes we had a delicious stew that went along with the rice that we made. We also made Indian potato salad; this isn’t like the traditional American potato salad with mayonnaise. We diced boiled potatoes, added chat masala, and then roasted onions and threw them on the pan for a few minutes. We had a lovely meal and learned a lot about how Indian food is made along with some tips we can bring back to our houses. Rose and Mom you would be proud! 😉
After our great meal, Abby and I, went to a workshop that Geeta Ma’am had prepared for all of the primary teachers at DPS. We went to the auditorium and there were 50 teachers waiting to hear her speak. It was very cool to see how incredibly respected and valued Geeta Ma’am is. She gave her presentation on “Quality Circle Time” and how to create a universal respect in the classroom. During the workshop she gave tips and tricks on how to have successful circle activity in the classroom. Some of the tips that were given included:
-Create a conch or object that the students can use to speak
-As a teacher, become a participant in the activity
-Listen when others are speaking and only speak one at a time
-Pass a smile on to each student and have it go around the circle
-Have your students give a fact about something they like so that everyone can focus on their similarities
-Have a give and take environment—receive a smile, pass a smile
Abby and I had so much fun spending our day absorbing information from Geeta Ma’am and I can’t wait to incorporate the things I learned into my future classroom.
On Sunday afternoon most of the group decided to take the night and go to Ashram: The Art of Living. Ashram is a meditation center that focuses on reflection for all religions and cultures. The campus of Ashram is very large and absolutely beautiful. There are many places for crowds to gather and meditate as well as where workshops can meet. We spent our time mainly in the Vishalakshi Mantap, which is the main meditation hall. On the way there and before this whole experience started I was expecting a deep breathing exercise or a yoga session. This is not what happened at all. We first sat down on pillows in a large room with many religious symbols, showing that their center has no real main religion chosen as their focus. The session started off with a woman sitting on the floor singing a beautiful song and chanting very softly and slowly. After a few minutes men joined in on drums and other instruments making the music fast and upbeat. It sort of reminded me of a concert hall. As time went on people started to get up and dance and throw their arms in the air. It was obvious this was a very up beat and joyous experience, definitely not the relaxing, serene environment I think of when I picture a meditation center. It was really interesting to see this new take on meditation through celebration and song. It was a different and new experience for me and I am glad that we were able to be there to witness it.
I have been in many classrooms. My own classrooms, Head Start nursery classrooms, Head Start pre-school classrooms, elementary classrooms, middle school classrooms, high school classrooms, college classrooms. But never have I taught my own lesson before today July 22, 2016. This wouldn’t be a big deal to most people, but since I have just been accepted into Phase 2 of the Elementary Education Program in the College of Ed, it is very exciting.
I prepared a lesson called “Animals, Food, and More.” Covering carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores for a 3rd standard science classroom. My host teacher is Suniti Rajat, she kindly let me take over her classroom for the period and teach her students. Suniti gave me the student’s textbook to look over what they were supposed to be learning and I used my best judgment, as I have never created a lesson before.
I started off my lesson with a series of questions for the students, recalling their knowledge on why humans need nutrition to work and grow properly. I then connected that to animals, creating the understanding that they work the same way humans do. I told the students that there are different types of eaters in the animal kingdom and these types have different characteristics to meet their food needs. I then gave them the definition of carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore along with the special teeth characteristics they each have. Once I finished writing this out on the board I asked the students what animal they thought would be an example for each category. I got so many correct answers. I was so impressed with this class and all of the information they knew! After asking a few questions getting them prepped for the activity, I passed out slips of paper for every student with an animal name on each. I told the students to move to different areas of the classroom depending on if their animal is an herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. As soon as they started to figure out what their animal was they all started moving about the classroom. I had a few questions on who should go where but they all figured it out and I was very proud of them! After they moved to each section I went around to the groups and asked each student what animal they were and what they were eating for dinner. I think the students had a really fun time being creative and telling me what they were going to have. There were a lot of laughs and some of the students had some pretty funny answers for me!
After the activity I like to call, “what are you having for dinner?” I had the students head back to their seats for some more information. I think the activity really made the kids excited and less shy because as soon as they sat down all of their hands shot up. They all wanted to give me examples of herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores and tell me what their pets ate at home! We then went over a little more information and facts about the special characteristics of animals that help them eat. The students had so much enthusiasm for what they were learning and that was really exciting for me to see that they were engaged and happy. The period was over before I knew it and I was sad to see the students leave for another class. On the way out a little boy said, “Sarah Ma’am your teaching is very nice and very fun!” This melted my heart and I am so happy and grateful that my first lesson got to be here in India with the sweetest students and teachers. This will be a memory that I have and cherish forever.
This Sunday was a hard day for me. I woke up around 5am and felt extremely sick. I decided not to go for the jeep ride and hike that the rest of the group went on that morning. From around 6-9am I got sick about 15 times and waited for the group to get home. Suman, my saving grace, decided to take me to the Coorg hospital after their trip. I was dizzy, nauseous, and ready for any medicine the hospital would give me. As I was walking into the emergency room crying, a kind lady said something to me in a language I did not understand and put her hand on my face and smiled. Weirdly, this made me feel a lot better as I was missing my mom being extremely sick almost 9,000 miles away from home. When I got to the emergency room I was immediately put into bed and given IV fluids and antibiotics. After 30 minutes or so I started to feel better and was grateful for the Coorg hospital.
We were supposed to leave for Mysore on the bus that afternoon so we went back to the hotel and got my bag then met the bus at a restaurant the rest of the group was eating at. Luckily one of the teachers from Magnolia, Sowmya, and her husband were on their way back home from Coorg as well so they told me I could lay in the backseat of their car instead of having to ride in the bus if I got sick again. So three hours later I woke up and was in Mysore EXTREMELY grateful for Sowmya, her husband, and Suman for taking care of me. That is one of the things about Indian culture that I love, they really know how to take care of people.
That night I was laying in bed trying to hydrate myself and started to feel a little bit worse. I took my temperature and it was at 101.4 degrees. Luckily, Maddie, who had been sick a few days before, had fever reducing medicine and lent me some so a few hours later I felt better and eventually fell asleep.
This morning (Monday) I felt a thousand times better and am glad to be back on my feet.
Later on this morning we were able to visit the Regional Institute of Education in Mysore (RIE). This is a college for students to receive their Bachelors of Education or B. Ed as they call it here in India. This is equivalent to the College of Education at the University of Missouri. While at the Institute we were able to meet some of the professors and then interact with some of the students. We split into group to discuss some questions that our professors gave us.
Through our interactions we discussed what it meant to teach our future students to be global citizens. We also talked about what the role of a teacher looked like. Some of the points we discussed include the following:
– In order to make sure our students are global citizens, we need to make sure we, their teachers, are global citizens
– It is hard to become a global citizen through a textbook, experience is critical
– It is important to bring different culture’s ideas and beliefs into the classroom and discuss them so students learn how to understand and respect them
– Global citizenship is highly based on educating oneself on as many cultures, religions, and backgrounds as possible
– Educating our students to be curious about travel and others that are different from them is crucial
After discussing I got to take pictures with some people in my group and even add some of them on What’sApp so we could talk while I am back home in the US. They were all eager to hear about the education system in America and how it differs from their own. It was such a cool experience to get to talk to fellow future teachers in India and to get to see their perspective on global citizenship and what it means to be a good teacher. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I’ll remember it forever.
Despite my sickness this weekend was amazing and I am eager to get to school this week to see my kiddos and teachers at DPS-North!