First Impressions

We arrived in Bangalore last night. After an hour spent tracking down Dr. Tony’s missing bag, we met Sheila (GenNext Education) outside the airport and loaded up onto the shuttle bus for a captivating 45 minute drive to our home for 6 weeks, Casa Cottages. The twelve of us looked out the windows, comparing our first impressions to our expectations. Of all the absurdity, the most striking was the distance at which cars and bikes moved past eachother on the freeway. I have yet to determine if this is due to narrower lanes or wider vehicles. Either way, I’m convinced these vehicles have the ability to shrink on command. At one point several bikes managed to pass between our and another bus separated by no more than half a meter¹. The madness of the freeway is apparently justified by a sophisticated system of communication involving honking your horn every time you pass somebody. A honk here doesn’t have malicious intent as it does in the US but is more of a friendly “Hey, I’m over here.” I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t more dangerous to continually take a hand off the steering wheel and honk the horn than it would be to just use your mirrors, and trust that others are using theirs. That being said, it seems to work alright and I personally appreciate the chaos². The number of road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year ranges from just 2.8 in Sweden to a wopping 73.4 in Libya, but Thailand places second on that list with 36.2 so I don’t know what’s going on with Libya. India ranks roughly average on the list with 16.6 deaths and the US just above average with 10.6³. Considering the amount of money saved by forgoing stoplights and other luxuries, I’d say they’re doing alright.
We were also struck by the number of stray dogs here. I was woken this morning by a few barking and last night we saw several on the side of the road. There are monkeys too. I think I heard some this morning. While this is cool, I’ve heard some of them are rabbid, which is not very cool.

Before I shut up, I want to say how awesome it is that I’m able to do something like this. It’s hard to believe I actually made it to India. While I like to think I worked hard to accomplish this, I hardly did it alone. From Gabrielle Malfatti organizing the program to Collin McMichael giving me a sweet camera, I have a lot of people to thank. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of those people.
1. About 1.5 feet. I should probably get used to this.
2. That is, until I’m negatively affected by it.
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

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Getting Ready

It is so exciting to be preparing a fourth group of pre-service teachers for their Indian educational experience in Bangalore. Since 2013, twenty students have taken advantage of this enriching opportunity and this year thirteen more will discover the taste of dosas and fresh lime soda, feel the pulse of India in their first rickshaw ride, learn to drape a sari and see their hands become the canvas for a henna tattoo artist. But, most importantly, these thirteen students will become part of a community of learners at Vidyashilp Academy, Delhi Public School North, Delhi Public School South, and AECS Magnolia Maaruti Public School. They will bring their passion and enthusiasm for teaching and learning into schools that have embraced and nurtured our young educators. MU students Elizabeth Best, Sarah Bippen, Laura Johnson, Abby Jozwiakowski, Kayla Kightlinger, Courtney Kreb, Chrissy Moore, Ollie Naeger, Kacy Thurman, Taylor Warren, Madeline Small and KU student Thompson Deufel have been preparing for their journey. They have applied for visas and through that process experienced and overcome some of the hurdles of global mobility for students. They participated in pre-departure orientations and have begun communicating with their host principals.  We look forward to seeing how this year’s group takes ownership of their India experience as they grow in professionalism, cultural adaptability and friendship over their six-week residency in Bangalore. I am sure they’ll soon discover what previous cohorts called “whendia:” Those enchanting and unique moments that only surrendering to all that India has to offer can provide. Namaste!