Message of the Day – Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill
Denise and I began our day before sunrise preparing for a short trip to the Chennai flower, fruit, and vegetable market, the largest of its kind in Asia. There, we walked around the fragrant pathways looking over hundreds of stalls stacked high with roses, jasmine, lotus blossoms, and mums all being sold for special occasions. We saw mountains of pineapples, sweet limes, and bananas, as well as cauliflower, and elephant yam. It was total chaos. I loved the energy but was also overwhelmed by it. Our experience in the early morning was a precursor to how our day would be, and it was only later that I realized I should have gotten more sleep the night before.
Upon our return, we had breakfast with Stephen and Sheba and reviewed our agenda for the day. Like the previous days, we would visit Assisi Ilam and play with the toddlers in the morning and spend the evening with the resident children at SEAM. However, today we would have the added responsibility of teaching English to fourth and fifth graders at Christ King School. Again, I was intimidated by the prospect of working with so many children.
My fears began to ebb as Denise and I arrived at Assisi and the toddlers greeted us with their giggles and hugs. The kids were playful and energetic and wanted all the attention they could get. I’ve been able to see definite personalities emerge: the clowns, the mother hens, the tough kids, and the shy ones. One hopes that they all can get along in small space we have to play, but once the toys come out all bets are off. While there will always be the battles over who had what toy first, for the most part the children play together well and include us in their games. Afterward, I felt happy and ready for the day ahead.
But like many people, little sleep drains the energy reserves and I found myself sleepy by lunch. I was incredibly worried that my low energy would show with the children and they would be bored by me. If I have learned anything while in India, I need not worry. The din of voices was so loud that I immediately woke up and was ready to teach. With Denise taking the lead, I felt like we were ready to present our lesson plan on nouns and pronouns without any trouble. Little did I know that the energy which had slowly drained from me during lunch had been channeled to them.
The kids were so rambunctious! With the boys sitting on one side of the room and the girls on the other (that’s the custom) I introduced myself and fielded a number of questions ranging from where was I from to how old I am. There are no secrets with questions like that, so I happily answered before Denise began leading the lesson. We began by having the children provide examples of nouns, pronouns, proper nouns, and verbs (but only for the fifth graders) before asking them to fill out some Mad Libs fashioned after a paragraph we read in one of the lesson books. The assignment had the groups chattering about which answer to put and whether the choice really fit the blank. In the end, while much of the paragraph was silly, the teams were very clever and impressed us.
As much as I enjoyed teaching, the final bell was a welcome sound. It meant that I could soon rest and maybe recharge my batteries. As tired as I was, I longed for another five minutes once the classes began to wish us a good afternoon and promised we would see them tomorrow. How can you not wish to extend the moment when 50 children smile at you and give you goodbye handshakes and fist bumps?
But we had to depart and head over to SEAM. The evening making elephant masks, paper birds, and wall art was a nice way to wrap up the day. The children were eager to learn the new crafts and their creativity was terrific. It reminded me that with a bit of persistence even the longest and hottest of days can result in happy memories spending time with those whose company you really enjoy.
I’m looking forward to a good night of sleep so that I can be well rested and ready for what tomorrow brings.