On our last day at school one of my girls said to me “how lucky I am to have met someone that makes saying goodbye so hard” and I could not agree more. Our last day was such a special day filled with an extreme amount of love. Before heading over to the school we went to one of the teachers homes and got all dressed up in sarees and bengals. After we got all ready were then on our way to school. We were greeted with the biggest smiles and many small gifts and cards from our students. Later in the day a program took place and we were able to share about our experience, show a short video we had made, and express our gratitude for the wonderful hospitality we had experienced. After we were done with our presentation some kids from each of our classes said a few things about us (which may or may not have caused some tears). Having to say goodbye to all of the students and teachers I have been able to build relationships with during our time in Jalgaon was so dang hard. Over the past six weeks I have been able to learn so much about indian culture, meet some of the most amazing people, and grow as a future educator. The love that we were shown here was overwhelming. This place, and these people, are something that will always hold a very special place in my heart.
This week we were able to visit the homes of some of the kids in our classes. Seeing these homes allows us to experience more of the culture, create better relationships with the kids, and see what our kids face on a daily basis that can heavily affect what is going on in the classroom. Every single kid wanted us to come to their home to meet their parents and see where they lived. We put the names of some of kids we’ve become the closest to on a list and the principal made the final decisions. Some of the homes we visited were a room smaller than the size of a bedroom. Most of the families had 4-6 members and the room contained a sofa, stovetop, some storage, and a faucet for the washroom. Teachers told us more of the child’s background – which family members they were living with, why some of their parents weren’t there, the passing of parents, etc. Each family greeted us with tea or coffee and many with snacks as well. They were so excited and proud to welcome us into their home. These are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, it’s absolutely amazing. The home visits were some of the longest days but they were also some of the best. This final part of our time with the kids really brought us full circle. We’ve seen how selfless, inspiring, and resilient these kiddos are despite daily challenges and what little they have.
This last week, we had a night out on the town with two younger teachers, Dheera and Kanisha. We hit 3 different cafe’s for dinner and dessert and to see a little bit more of the city. It was so nice to just hang out and “chill” with them. We tried everything from sandwiches, pasta, and Indian-Chinese food to fruit shots, mocktails, and kit kat rolled ice-cream. We were stuffed and that’s an understatement! We couldn’t be more grateful for the people we’ve met and the friends we made. These people have made India a home away from home these past 6 weeks. It will be hard to leave the amazing people we met, but the friendships we’ve made are so very special. We are looking forward to one last night out to dinner this week with these lovely ladies!
We spent our last Sunday in Jalgoan going to see a nearby village and attend our second Indian wedding. This wedding was for a relative of one of the teachers that we have been lucky to get to know well during our time here. Before the wedding we went to see her home and a nearby temple. We really enjoyed getting to learn more about how the people in Jalgaon live their day to day lives outside of school. After seeing these places we headed over to the location where the wedding would begin and enjoyed some music and dancing before the actual ceremony. Being able to attend another wedding and see other Indian traditions was so awesome. The bride and groom for this wedding were from a different part of India than those of the first wedding so we got to experience two completely different ceremonies. Also for this wedding we had the chance to get dressed up in traditional Indian dresses and sarees along with lots of jewelry. What a great way to end our weekend! -Lexi
Crazy to think that we only have one more week left here in Jalgaon! I wanted to do an activity with my class and remember making butterflies when I was younger. I brought the supplies with me from the States and had an idea in mind of what they would look like. The kids’ creativity blew me away. Each and every butterfly was a different shape and design. The kids had so much fun doing this activity and my teacher was happy to keep all of the extra supplies in the room for future projects. I’ve loved getting to know each and every one of the kids and see all of their different talents and personalities. It will be sad to leave these sweet and smart kiddos and all of the amazing people that we have met.
On Friday we got the chance to go out with a couple of teachers from the school and go shopping. We packed ourselves into an auto (Indian taxi) and headed out to a variety of local shops. Our first stop was at the mall, which ended up being very similar to ones that we have back in the United States. After visiting a couple of stores in the mall we headed out to get softees, which are similar to ice cream cones, and then were on our way to the market. On the ride from the mall to the market I got to ride with one of the teachers on her bike. It was kind of scary at first, but then ended up being really fun when I started to relax and enjoy it more. While at the market they took us to a few different shops where we were able to see a variety of jewelry and clothes. All four of us ended up purchasing some jewelry and other little gifts to bring back home for our friends and family. It was so great being able to get out in the city more and shop and experience more of the culture.
On Saturday, we went to the Ajanta Caves which are about an hour and half drive from here in Jalgaon. The ride was EXTREMELY bumpy as almost every road in India seems to be getting redone at the same time. On the way, we stopped at the Jain Farmlands to eat lunch and take a tour of their campus that includes a College for Agriculture. After lunch, we drove another ten minutes before arriving at the caves! We spent about an hour and half going through the caves and climbing up and down the plethora of stairs and hills. There were 26 caves, but we only stopped in to about 10 of them as many are very similar. This is an extremely popular attraction for many people in India and any of its visitors. We are glad we were able to go see them, and it was also nice to mix up our daily routine a little bit! You would have thought we were famous with how many times we were stopped to try and take pictures. Before we left, we did some shopping in a little area by the entrance of the caves and practiced our bartering skills while trying to find gifts to bring home to our friends and family. On the way out, we grabbed an ice cold, Diet Coke for the road!