Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy ValenKINDs Day!

There is nothing better than walking into Lakhtokia, seeing the girls washing themselves off with water, putting on their best outfits, getting their notebooks, and then grabbing onto my hand to go to school. There is nothing more difficult than controlling eight girls for the ten-minute walk from Lakhtokia to school. There is nothing more adorable than seeing two girls from Lakhtokia show up to school on their own because they were late meeting up with us in the slum. There is nothing harder than having to listen to a stranger tell you, and THIS HAPPENS EVERY DAY, “Do not give these kids anything because once you do, they will not leave you alone.” There is nothing more rewarding than hearing the teacher tell you, “Avita learned how to hold a pencil today. She was so excited that she just kept smiling and drawing with her new grip.” There is nothing more frustrating than having to understand that you can take the girl out of the slum but not the slum out of the girl, even though that may sound too brutal to say.

For me, there is nothing more exciting that running down the street, screaming “SCHOOOOOOOOOOOOOL” with the girls.

As I was walking home from dropping the kids off yesterday, I broke down again. This was Valentines Day. There are moments when you think anything is possible with these kids, and the next minute one of them is begging you for food after you just bought her a pair of shoes for school. The frustration that comes with little moments of optimism can drive you insane.

Apart from taking the girls to and from school, a new development walked into my life the other day. When I went to talk to the coordinator about bringing the girls from Lakhtokia to school, she also explained how they did not have enough teachers for the afternoon program. She asked me if I could teach english or another subject. Of course, I said yes! This is perfect since I have to drop off and pick up the girls, and now I can stay and teach. So now I am teaching English to the older kids. On Tuesday, I taught class six and seven. On Wednesday, I taught class nine and ten. (I am not quite sure the ages of the classes because when I have asked the ages of the students, they have ranged from 10 to 18.) The first English class had three subjects… 1. How to Introduce Yourself, 2. I, You, He/She, etc., 3. Body Parts.

Group picture with class nine and ten! 
Evening school teachers! 
The day after I taught my first class, the students were coming up to me asking all of the introduction questions I had taught them. "Hello, how are you doing?" And later on in the week, they were coming up to me naming their body parts. That seemed like progress. I know only a little Hindi and very limited Assamese, but with my dances, and songs, and games that I have going on in my classes, I think the students might be able to pick up some English. One student told another teacher, “I have never had a teacher who moves around so much and is so energetic.” Ooops… I've always had energy, and now it seems to be paying off.

Sending smiles and valentines from India,

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! I hope though that you will pace yourself. It is hard to accomplish things when you are tired and overwhelmed. Take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others.