Delightful Second Day in Chennai

teaching at Assisi illam

Team Journal by Fran for Tuedsay, 26th July 2016.

I awoke to the raucous cries of our crow, the swoosh sound of the native coconut stemmed broom scraping the concrete, and the awakening of traffic. Soon the metal pots and pans began to play their morning song in the kitchen below me. It is the beginning of another day in India.

I grow restless to begin my day so I shampoo my hair, a totally different experience than my routine back home, especially since my hair dryer does not like the source of electricity in India even with the adapter that I brought with me. I check out the available books for the little ones to take to Assisi Illam and look for more books on line since I have a few moments of access for that.

When breakfast arrives on the table, so do Stephen and Sheeba. The boys have been delivered to their school so we can begin the day of a volunteer. We share the breakfast; I drink a lovely cup of milk tea and read my journal entry. We are ready for the drive to Assisi Illam. Traffic is a bit heavier today so we pause at moments while motor bikes thread their way between our car and the vehicle ahead of us as they squeeze along the truck and the barrier. If a vehicle can fit in a space, it will be there.

We arrive at the day care. It appears that there are fewer children here today. I count them and discover 21 when there were 26 yesterday. Yet, that is a lot of children confined in a small space. The children have one room to play, to sing, to look at picture books, to eat and to nap. There is no playground with playground equipment. It is amazing how Sister Rose and her helpers, although few in number, are able to provide such care and food for these little ones. I begin to do some finger play with the children and then we sing songs. Sheeba soon joins us with more songs. Then I get out books and my I Pad. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See is a favorite. With two and three year-olds, the story can be repeated again and again. Time passes so quickly and it is now play time. The big bag of stuffed toys, balls, and soft hand puppets are soon in the hands of the little ones. I am able to get on the floor to play rolling catch with several children and several balls. There are those children who share and those who tightly hold the toy they acquired. Whatever they do, they are beautiful children and precious little ones.

Between all of these activities, the children are lined up (or not) to go outside to the entry courtyard where they have their toilet break. It is my greatest hope that the little ones arrive home with the correct underwear that I helped them done.

After watching a well-used DVD of nursery rhyme songs, the children line up for lunch. They sit on the floor in two lines facing each other as the pot of food is scooped onto metal plates and distributed to each child. As the meal is reaching its conclusion, it is time for us to leave

we enjoyed a lunch and conversation at the guest house. I return to my room for a bit of rest and time to prepare for the afternoon and evening sessions. My first session is with Maheswari; we practice again and again questions and answers that she will probably encounter in her job interview. I look over her resume and Stephen prints off the revised copies for her. We saw such improvement during the session. I hope she approaches the interview tomorrow morning with confidence and that she does well. The second session was with Nishanth who brought his English course work with him. He read a selection by Oscar Wild to me, stopping when words were unclear to him. We talked about the words, their meaning, and I even drew some rough pictures to help him understand. When he did understand, he would give me a beautiful smile and say,”I understand.” It is a joy helping both of these young people. While Nishanth and I were finishing the Wild story about a happy and kind statue, my new teacher friend arrived. When Nishanth left to home, we began our conversation, actually our practice using English. Delightful is the best word to describe my time with this lovely and vivacious lady. We chatted until well past 7:30.

After she left, we had dinner. After more stimulating conversation, it was time for me to return to my room for some preparation and rest because tomorrow will arrive soon.

Message for the day: Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things. Flora Lewis (I recognize the vacuum in my life because I have failed to learn many languages and the vagaries of time make that option unrealistic. Yet, I have learned from the little of languages that have become a part of me, another language from another country does teach me another way to think about things.)

Visit Global Volunteers’ Volunteer in India website page to learn more about service opportunities in Chennai. Or chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions and other program details.

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