Saturday, November 22, 2008
Indians celebrate many colorful festivals in honor of their Hindu Gods and Goddesses. American holidays, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day, are not celebrated in India. Because my students are holiday stir crazy and loooove each and every festival, I decided to bring my favorite American holiday to India: HALLOWEEN!
The project: My Indian students first studied the origin of Halloween and were to choose one person to dress up as for the Halloween party I was throwing. They had to write a 1 page report on the costume they chose to create and had to tell me the significance of the person they chose. It was interesting because while many of my Indian students chose Western superheros (like batman), others decided to honor their Hindu faith by dressing as one of their favorite Gods and Goddesses. I learned just as much from my students as they learned from me during this project. This is what teaching is all about. Teachers and students are a TEAM!
Enjoy the pics of Halloween in India. I had a BLAST with my students and loved the creativity involved with some of their homemade costumes. They were brilliant! By the way, that is me in traditional Indian dress- a sari!
Ms. Reynolds (Breanna mam)
On our way home from Miss Reynold's school, we turned the corner in our Auto Rickshaw and there was an elephant walking down the street. It was amazing. We were right next to it!!! Even as I am typing this, I cannot believe that we were able to experience this. We were so close that we could touch its wrinkled skin and see all the little hairs that stick out from in between its wrinkles. I was in shock. We were so excited!!! Auto Rickshaws have no doors or windows, so it was like being out and in the open with the elephant. It was enormous and we experienced a totally different feeling than when you see an elephant at the zoo. It was so large and powerful that it could have killed us with a mere step of its gigantic foot, but it simply calmly walked like it was on an afternoon stroll. He was very peaceful.
After we came home, we heard all sorts of drums being banged and people singing. We went outside and from Miss Reynolds' balcony, we could see our elephant friend once again. He was leading a parade to promote a candidate in the India election. Talk about different campaigning styles than in the United States. :)
Today was an incredible day. We were so busy, but it was amazing. We hosted seminars, presented interactive to small groups of teachers, taught lessons to the students, administered Board exams to the students, held discussion Q & A sessions with the students and presented resources that Mercury Mine students and Amy, a former Shadow Mountain High School teacher, donated. It was so rewarding to see the excitement and appreciation from the teachers. They truly embraced us and were thankful for our ideas and resources. It makes such a difference when you get to "see" the person you have helped. Thank you so much students for your donations. It makes such a big difference. I am so proud to teach you.
I was honored by the teachers and presented a beautiful silk Sari. They dressed me up in the Sari and gave me my own Bindi because, "Something so beautiful should be marked and hurt by nothing," as one woman said, and she blessed me and gave me the Bindi for protection from anything that may hurt my "beauty". I cried. It was such a momentous occasion. I was completely speechless and even now, as I type this to all of you, my eyes are tearing once again. It was an unforgettable day.
I am loving being a part of this community. The highest honor a person can receive is having their feet kissed and touched. Today after my lessons, the students kissed my feet. It was a very emotional moment. The woman in charge of the primary side was astonished that they honored me in such a magnificent way so soon. It usually takes a lot of building of trust before students honors someone. After they honored me, I honored them by touching their heads. It was very humbling and special.
Miss Reynolds' class, or Breanna Ma'am's class as the Indian students refer to her, wrote my students pen pals letters about a month ago. My students then wrote back to their pen pals. While I was in India, I was able to start passing out the American students' letters to their Indian pen pals. We were able to meet with a few students individually to have them read, discuss, and respond to a few American students' letters. The Indian students were so excited to receive their letters, pictures, and gifts from their American pen pals.
Every morning before classes start, the school has an assembly where all the students gather and they are addressed by the principal and teachers. The students are very poised and attentive. They take pride in themselves and their education. It was a beautiful sight to see. Walking up to the assembly took my breath away. When we arrived, I was asked to come on stage and address the student body. I enjoyed speaking to the students. Plus, if you know Miss Bailin, she likes nothing better than being on stage with a microphone. :)
Miss Bailin and Miss Reynolds stayed up until 4a.m. sorting through around 300 letters for our students. We are so excited about their letter exchanges. We also sorted through the pictures and materials that were donated by Mercury Mine students. I am so proud of all of you. We are such a strong community and it feels amazing to see how our efforts affect others.