I arrived in Kerala last week and was immediately smacked in the face with lots of changes, ranging in size and shape and curiosity. There were the changes for the project that I witnessed: Project coordinator Julia going back to Sweden to eat lots of food and visit family for a few months; changing the GVI headquarters; and lots of new and exciting programs being introduced to SDPY School.
There were the changes that are inherit to coming to India: tuk-tuks stopping centimetres in front of your face to ask if you need a ride; the gaggle of Indian men who stare at you regardless of what you’re doing or wearing, the weaving of the cars over bumpy roads; that moment on the way to school, after having driven past cars, buses, tuk tuk, chechis, shops, flowers, sights, smells, sounds, things, that you emerge at a beautiful, pristine backwater and everything goes ‘ah’ inside you; and the constant sounds and smells that hit you in the middle of your eyes and then go as quickly as they came. And then there are the changes that become normal so quickly you forgot that you could consider them different: the head wobble the kids do; stopping on the way to school to get a chain of jasmine flowers; that rooster that wakes you up every morning; having to knock on the squatter toilet at school before going in to scare off the spider the size of a fist; the sudden change from sunny and hot weather to torrential rain; or seeing resident fat cat Kylie being painstakingly pregnant on whatever chair you were about to sit on.
So, instead of trying to describe EVERYTHING in INTENSE DETAIL, I am going to describe a journey at SDPY. Here, we knock on a class’s door at the beginning of English, Spoken English or Maths and see if any kids ‘need any help’. The teachers, all wrapped in gorgeous saris, send out one to three kids by pointing, screaming with a barely audible voice, or twisting their ear slightly to get their attention. It does not look like
an easy job keeping 50 something head wobbling kids under control for an entyre day!
The children will tottle out with their workbooks, the braver ones asking/telling you “How are you I am fine I came to school on the bus” in one breath. Little victories are gained, like the light that pops on in their eyes when they realise opening and shutting their hands is the same action as opening and shutting the door and even opening and shutting their eyes. And there are the ones where you spend your entyre energy making sure that their eyes remain seeing what you’re teaching and not wandering up to the roof (stay with me, Drysha!), or confidently counting seven stars on a blank whiteboard when learning about the concept of zero (how did you that, Enoch?)
This week, the kids have been locked up in the classroom to take their exams, so we have taken advantage of the time to vamp up our room at the school and the tuition schedule. There is something so satisfying about knowing you have painted a room, and I think we are all pretty proud of our creation space.
We have been teaching the kids songs, with 13 year old boys literally whooping when they got to the end of B.I.N.G.O. and adamantly confessing their love for the hokey pokey, and this afternoon will witness the inaugural Zumba lesson.
So whilst India has hit me with so many of its changes, I’m hoping a few of the changes G.V.I. is bringing in will be as shocking and as welcomed in return. The thought that a painting of ‘wash your hands’ or ‘the water cycle’ will be looked at and absorbed by so many beautiful brown eyes, and that they might sing about a farmer’s dog with such excitement to each other brings a warm glow somewhere in my belly (and fingers crossed it’s not the roadside shwarma that brings those weird feelings.)