What a day. My first truly full day and I am spent. It is amazing how much energy children have, and how little I have. I think it should work the opposite way. Children should need to rest more and as we age we should have more energy. I think that would be more fair.
At dinner time, we share the highs and lows of the day. Already though, I find that on any full day of teaching/working with kids, there are constant highs and lows. I think (aside from the melting heat) that is why the days can be so exhausting. It feels like so many days rolled into one. There are constant highs and lows, small things that turn in to huge things you notice, every one being an experience you want to savor, absorb, reflect on, and remember. Just my one hour lesson with Life Dance Troupe today was riddled with highs and lows. The improvements they have made since I have seen them last, the frustration of faulty speakers…having our president return and seeing his presence motivate others in class, then moments of talking and lack of focus…then pulling it together again and that few moments where everyone is completely focused and in character and giving me goosebumps as they rehearsed their dance even without the music to my counts.
I was satisfied, despite the musical set backs, at what we accomplished in class today and really impressed at the focus and commitment LDT showed me even during the difficult aspect of cleaning a dance. Then I had to move on to helping organize and coordinate the talent show we have planned for the arrival of the new students this week. That was a bit difficult because even though everyone loves to show off here, if you ask them to sign up, they get embarrassed. I had to spend a good portion of the day trying to convince students to share their talents as well as find ways to have other people encourage them and inspire ideas (not just from me). It was a bit like “pulling teeth” as they say, but I think by the time I sat down at the end of the day we had made a lot of progress. The highlight in that was seeing some of the children practice their talent pieces on their own and working together or showing individual creativity.
The other thing I got involved with today (since regular school classes are not yet in session) was the class president elections. It was fun to be part of an activity that further promoted leadership within the student body here. It takes a lot of energy to collect each standard and keep them calm and focused, but in the end it was well worth it. There were some individuals who I was really proud to see stand up as nominees and be willing to serve and represent their standards. It was also nice to assist Nery, another volunteer/construction coordinator, in this endeavor and work in a team with some of the other volunteers to accomplish the task.
After doing some more talent show follow up during play time today, I also helped cover some of the volunteers that were away during evening prayer. Evening prayer is a time when a lot of the volunteers go over to the children’s hostel and teach a lesson related to a theme/skill that the entire school is focusing on for a 15 day period. This week we are working on self control. It was actually really nice to be with the children during this time because I got to see a whole new side of their personalities and to meet some new younger children who were not here during my last stay. The major low here was seeing all these young boys want to get involved and focusing relatively well and then their housemother interrupting and talking over the volunteer – usually as we were emphasizing that only one person should be speaking at a time. I know there are just differences and she wasn’t doing it to be rude on purpose, but I found it difficult right as we were trying to talk about self control. There were several highs though as I watched the boys give various answers and help each other to understand the topic if they were not so proficient at understanding English. It was just so heart warming to see them excited and wanting to help each other out.
A funny and cute moment of cultural differences today was in our introduction game. We had each individual introduce themselves with some other details including a favorite food. I chose chocolate also because I thought they would relate liking sweets as much as they do. However, several boys looked confused and a more chatty and inquisitive boy, Praveen, interjected with utter bewilderment: “But that’s not a food…chocolate is a sweet?!” I wish I had captured the look on his face as he said it – so confused and baffled that I could say that.
Another sweet moment of my evening was watching the little boy sitting next to me. I need to ask one of the older boys what his name is, as he barely spoke loud enough for me to hear or not at all. He was only 6, but looked maybe 4, with big innocent brown eyes. The other volunteers arrived and carried out the remainder of the lesson which involved handing out a candy and telling the boys that if they could wait until the end of the lesson to eat the candy, then they would get another one. A practice in self control. The boy next to me obviously was not following the English, but the instructions were translated in Tamil. As the lesson went on, I could tell he wasn’t following but sat intently watching me and rearranging our candies in front of us. Occasionally, he would pick one up and smell it with a look of delight and longing for this little candy, but obediently put it back down with the hopes of receiving another. For this little 6 year old the 30 minutes passing between candies with people speaking in a foreign language must have been eternity, but he waited. In many areas, I wish I were that dedicated all the time.