India - The Teacher (Ethan Hopkins)
Four days have passed since my last blog post, and my experience in India has only gotten better. I find the task of putting my feelings of love, gratitude, and awe into words, a difficult one. I am amazed every day by what I see and feel, and hardly have the time to sort these experiences into coherent sentences. Our incredible leaders and the inspiring children we are working with have changed my view of the world forever, and certainly for the better. Since Wednesday we have been in the schools for two days and, while we had some difficulties, I feel like we have been effective in our teaching and I know I have connected with some of the children on a personal level. On Thursday we ran into a problem when we forgot our flashcards that we use to teach vocabulary to the children. Despite this our team was able to adapt and work around this challenge, and learned the importance of being a flexible teacher. The problems of the teaching day seem to melt into the background when we go to the ashram and have the opportunity to play with the kids. While exhausting, the feeling of joy never lessens when one of the kids at the ashram asks you to lift them into the air. The smile on their face is all the payment one could ask for.
The kids never seem to tire of the simple games that are available to us. On Friday I played the kids version of volleyball for an hour, with a boy named Neeraj. Neeraj is one of the star students and is always helpful during school, acting as a translator at times to help the younger students. It is moments like that, when Neeraj helps a child understand a vocab word, that make you grateful for the help of others, even one of the students.
Even though we are the ones with the flashcards and lesson plans, I can’t help but feel that we are the ones who learn the most. Our team has grown together like I could never have imagined before the expedition, and the kids teach us about simple truths every day. The people of India live a very different life than us in the U.S.A., and while not as comfortable or advanced, lessons in gratitude can be taken from their appreciation of the small things. It is impossible for me to portray how grateful I am to my incredible leaders and all the hard work that they put into making this expedition a success. I am grateful for my fellow students in this strange and amazing land, and for our teachers, the loving children of India.