Red Team - Manikjore, by Greg Miyatake

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I hope this post finds all our friends and family well back in the US of A. I'm Greg and I have the pleased to be the adult leader of the Red Team: Estelle, Summer, Kylee and Emma.

It is day 5 in India and the third day of our visits to our village school and Nishtha's Day Boarding School (DBS). Each morning we depart at 7:30 and travel 15 minutes to Manikjore where approximately 60 students ages 6 to 15 (elementary and junior high school) attend school. We start each day with an attention getter (1 2 3 eyes on me, 1 2 eyes on you!) followed by a song (old McDonald) a story from a children's storybook and finishing with an activity (jump rope).

Today Emma was the team leader and directed the overall activities. Kylee lead the song and taught the kids how to walk the spider up the water spout. Estelle was very animated with her telling of the story while Emma manipulated a hand puppet. Summer closed with the activity by getting everyone rocking (can you say dance party?) to the energetic music she had carefully selected last night. On a typical day we would then visit the homes of a few of our students. We are always graciously welcomed and given a Hindu blessing by the family matriarch including a dot on our foreheads called a bindi which serves as a reminder to keep God at the center of one's thoughts. After our blessings we were offered some local foods and snacks as we chatted with family members through our interpreter.

After our adventures in the village, we are off to DBS to focus our efforts on the young girls there who likely would not have an opportunity to be educated were it not for Nishtha. Each teen sits down with a small group of 6 to 8 girls and they proceed through the lessons prepared prior to arriving in India. About 25 minutes is devoted to each lesson after which the teens rotate to a new group of girls. Typically there are 3 or 4 teaching sessions per days.

I am truly pleased with the way in which these young ladies are devoting themselves to their work and the impressive way they are interfacing with their YMAD colleagues and the India people. Emma goes the extra mile to include the girls who are reluctant to participate. Estelle is the person who is always searching for ways to be helpful. Summer always has a smile on her face is excited to engage with the girls in the lessons. Kylee' s sweet nature has earned her an additional appendage who persuaded me at least four times today to take a picture of the two of them. I'm sure none of them have ever received the numbers of kisses they have this week from their new friends in India!

It has truly been a pleasure to be a part of this expedition and to have the opportunity to participate with Emma, Estelle, Summer, and Kylee the past 8 months. It has been amazing and heart warming to see the change in perspectives, increases in self-confidence, motivation, responsibility and the blossoming of love for India and her people. I feel I have learned more from them than they from me! Thank you for sharing them!

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