Max Jones

Every day's been getting better here. When we were leaving Salt Lake and San Francisco, I was skeptical, for lack of a better word. I didn't really want to leave home. I really like my things and people at home. Despite how it may sound to those close to me, I'm really happy with what and who I have. Once we reached Singapore though, I was getting pretty excited for what was ahead, and I'm glad I didn't hang on to that negative attitude past then, because, of the many things this trip has taught me so far, the biggest thing I've come to realize is that an experience is only as good as you make it and that, if you go into something thinking it will suck or thinking it will be awesome, you'll probably be right.

The first full day here was one of the most genuinely amazing days of my life so far and I don't think I've ever gained such an insane amount of perspective in such a short time. Within minutes of waking up, Jeff took us for a walk. Just up and down the street, but seeing what I saw, I realized how fortunate we all truly are, and how much we all have to give. After some downtime, we had a big event with the women of Nishtha, where we watched some of the women perform unique songs and dances, sang the songs we've been practicing for months, and danced around the room. After hearing how those women talk about YMAD and the Cobabes, I got really excited to go and help people, and, hopefully, change their lives for the better. It's really hard to put into words how these things make me feel, not to mention the fact that I'm very tired, but I'm trying.

Today (Monday), we went into our villages for the first time and taught at the Main Day Boarding school, as well as went on our village tours. We started out the day by going to our villages and beginning to teach in the schools there, which was easily one of the most, if not the most humbling, happy, and gratifying and generally wonderful times of my life. Even though I wasn't leading and I'm not particularly good with children, especially those that I can barely communicate with, I thoroughly enjoyed it. These children are so happy to see all of us and they have so much fun when we're there. Families show up just to watch us teach, kids write their names on our arms and in our notebooks, they kiss our cheeks and hug us, they follow us around and hold our hands and try to show us the things they're proud of, they follow the car as we leave the village; they are so happy and content with life and I admire it in a huge way. After our village schools, we went on a village tour, which I learned so much from. We basically just went to four houses, where the people fed us and did a small ceremony for which I have no idea the name. It was amazing to get a small peek into these peoples' way of life. After village tours, we went to Main Day Boarding school. For the first couple hours of being there, we literally just played with the girls and waited for the other groups to show up. We did the parachute, played duck duck goose, ride that pony, jump rope, and so many more. One of the funniest experiences I've had in a while without a doubt. We also taught our lessons to groups of five or six, which is where the highlight of my day and the trip so far happened. Estelle and I were teaching together, and it was her the at the time so I was just kind of contributing, as you do. Just getting the kids hyped and making sure they were paying attention and whatnot. During Estelle's craft though, Annie brought me a young girl named Jasmina. I never got her age out of her because she barely talked, but she was no older than 4 or 5 if I had to guess. The point is, Jasmina was very very shy and was a very tough nut to crack. Annie told me to go help Jasmina with Estelle's lesson and see if I could get her out of her shell a little bit. Estelle's activity was to make a portfolio, which you wrote your name on and decorated, and that's where I started with Jasmina, just trying to get her to decorate her folder and make it hers, so I started to give her ideas on what she could draw and how she could decorate, and she started to do that a little bit,

but it was definitely tough. After we did the portfolio, Estelle had a sheet that was basically an "All About Me" worksheet. On this, I either taught Jasmina how to write her name, or wore her down enough to do it, I'm not quite sure which, and got her to draw a little bit of a self portrait, which was a stick figure, but meant progress. I showed her my family and began to learn what hers was like when time cut me off. Since I taught second I put a big focus on Jasmina's participation and tried to make sure she knew it was a positive place to be and that Estelle and I are nice people. We got her talking just a little bit and participating in the lesson, saying the vocabulary words mad acting them out. I'm not sure if this little summary made any sense at all, but again, it's really hard to find the words for how amazing of an experience it was.

I could write for days and days about how much I'm learning and how amazing this is, but it's really hard to write a lot when you're properly speechless and only on day two.

Mom: Im alive, well fed, surrounded by wonderful people (Familiar or not), and loving every second of this. I'll see you soon and I love you lots.