time flies when you’re having fun

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.

-Lexi

Home Visits

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.

Girl’s Night Out

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!

-Abbi

Wedding #2!!

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

Butterflies

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.

-Abbi

Market to Market

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.

-Lexi

Ajanta Caves

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!

-Abbi

Wedding!

This past weekend we were lucky enough to be able to attend the wedding of one of the members of the Jain family! After our Republic Day celebrations we headed home to get our work done so that we were able to go out at night. In the evening we put on our new outfits and headed over to the wedding venue. When we arrived at the venue we were amazed by house big and beautiful everything was. After being shown to our seats we received some yummy mocktails and enjoyed some music and entertainment from the friends and families of the bride and groom. After that we got to try so many different Indian dishes and left feeling fuller than ever. This was such a fun night and are so happy that we were able to attend!!

-Lexi

Class 4!

After spending a few days getting used to the school and meeting hundreds of students, I settled on a class to spend my time with. This was a tough decision, as every class was so much fun, but ultimately, I felt pulled towards class 4. I have 28 students, and I think I finally have all of their names down! They are all 10-11 years old, and absolutely full of energy. After being in the class for only a short time, it is easy to see that the kids here are not so different from kids in the United States. They each have their own dynamic personalities that I have really enjoyed getting to know. All of them, though, are so, so sweet. I already know it is going to be incredibly difficult to say goodbye.

My kids spend most of their day in their classroom learning subjects like Social Studies, English, Environmental Science, Math, Marathi, and Hindi. Many of my kids’ favorite period of the day, though, is sports, when they get to go down into the open field and play games. Their favorites are mostly variations of what we would call tag. Every time they play, they beg me to join, but then get very concerned and try to make sure I am careful and run very slow. They also love to show off their skills on the monkey bars! It really never ceases to amaze me how much these children love to learn. They are constantly asking so many questions about anything and everything. They love hearing about my home and my family. They also really enjoy learning American poems, songs, and games. I am so excited to get to know these wonderful kids better and better and to continue to share with them as they have already shared so much with me!

Happy Republic Day!

Happy Republic Day here in India! We woke up early this morning to head to school for the celebration that the kids prepared all week for. You could see the excitement on their faces when we arrived at school wearing the colors of their flag. We began the celebration with the release of the Indian flag tightly rolled up. The flag pole is in the center of the courtyard of the school and the staircase leading up to it was decorated with beautiful flowers and decorations done by the teachers and students. When the flag was opened, flowers fell to the ground and students began saluting while singing their national anthem. The morning was filled with dances, songs, skits, and speeches performed by each grade. We were able to watch each of the grades practicing their performances throughout the week. It was so fun to see how far they came in just the week they had to learn them! We continue to learn more about the history of their culture through all of the different celebrations we are getting to see! Just for today, we traded in the red, white, and blue for the orange, white, and green!

-Abbi