Monday, September 7, 2015

Teaching at the Rambo Memorial School and Working with the Nursing Students

Mungeli, India update: July 13- July 15
Yesterday was the New Horizons Pluto flyby - SO EXCITING! I told as many folks as I could about it and hope to check into the internet later on to see the news. It's very hard not knowing the play-by-play on this long-awaited and much-anticipated space event, but it'll never lose its cool factor and I'm positive images will be forthcoming from the massive amounts of data for at least one year following the flyby. I wonder if they will choose a Kuiper belt object for after the Pluto adventure!

Monday, I had my first classes at the Rambo Memorial School and things went well! I worked on singing with the 7th graders and we had lots of fun! As it turned out, I ended up teaching third graders through tenth graders in sometimes three and sometimes four classes each day. The littlest ones are SO CUTE and so polite! Each class stands when a teacher enters and except for the "usual suspects", most everyone pays attention and asks questions etc. My classes were offered as an "extra" and mainly for those students interested in learning about music and singing. Each class was absolutely packed. Most of the students liked the singing, but not all of them. This year, I had two classes without a teacher in there with me. I feel like I needed someone in there for the occasional question a child asked, for discipline a few times, and for translation of what I was saying and the instructions bring given to the class!

Everyone wanted to shake my hand and say "Good Morning Ma'am!" :-) A few of them dare each other to come up as I'm walking in the schoolyard and say "Good morning" or "How are you?"...I answer and they smile, giggle, and run.

Each evening, I work with the nursing students on singing technique and the songs they use for daily morning chapel services. I also prayer with them and help them in planning some of the chapels. I was also asked to speak several times which was a huge and wonderful experience for me! Neither the students at the school or the nurses at the hospital are used to singing in their head voices, so that's one of the things I'm re-introducing and trying to get them all to integrate. All of the Hindi folk music that I've heard has been in chest voice with some nasality, but it works well for the language and the songs which may have clapping and instruments going on.
Tuesday I taught three classes at the school. One class of grades 3-5, one of grades 6-7, and one of grades 8-9. The school has almost 200 new students this year, making for a rough total of 950! This is a fantastic trend, but they have almost no room as it is. Some construction is being done, but it appears to be rather slow. It is also very loud and going on all day during classes. They are using both the "new" and the old school buildings. I must add here that the new classrooms are overcrowded, filthy, and without proper ventilation (not to mention air conditioning). The old buildings do not have electricity. The bathrooms are unspeakable and a teacher even recommended that I not go inside. In spite of all these things, they are doing the best they can and providing a much-needed education for hundreds of children! The teachers are good and quite dedicated. It is very clear that they love their kids and get frustrated by the lack of proper facilities as well as the lack of resources in general.
After the school day, I rushed back to take a shower as it was BOILING HOT outside with at least 1,000% humidity and I was a big bowl of sweat. Dr. Anil Henry, the head of the hospital took thus year's group of missionaries to see two temples at the edge of a low mountain range. He had to go to the town of Kawardha first for a court case (a child hurt in a terrible auto accident died after two months in the hospital and he was there with the family to testify against the driver) so we went along for the ride and waited in the ambulance while he was in court. As if an ambulance pulling up to a courthouse wasn't enough, there were nine of us inside and all very different-looking so we periodically drew crowds of folks wanting to have a look at us. I found again this year that we were something of a culture shock to just about everyone. In most cases, people from the surrounding villages of any town or those in small towns seemed to never have seen anyone different from themselves, at least live and in person. After the court case was done, Dr. Henry took us to a very large dam and lake. We got out to stretch our legs a bit and then continued on to the temples (See next blog post).

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