Love: A Universal Language (Gabrielle Hicken)
This week has been one of the happiest and most fulfilling weeks of my life. I go to bed exhausted but it’s so worth it. I wake up so energized and really enjoy the scenic car ride to the school while listening to great Hindi music. When we arrive, I love seeing the kids line up in their 5 lines patiently waiting for us to lead them off to our own areas to teach. They are SO eager to learn. I am shocked at how much they’ve retained from the beginning lessons! (We spent 45 min. teaching the concept, My name is…) Each age/class has a “brightest student” and I am so grateful when they help the lesson progress and help the other students understand. They’re life savers. The language barrier is unfortunately pretty real. So much of the time the sweet kids are trying to tell me something and I feel so helpless as they just repeat the same phrase as I randomly guess. However, love is a universal language and my favorite part of the day is when I get to walk the kids home holding their little hands. Juna, Dixa, Anita, Bono, and Salima are just a few of the girls at my school who I naturally connect with well.
Juna and Malka (5th grade girls) kept pleading at me, “Assay Assay!” It took me forever to figure out they wanted me to dance for them because earlier I showed them my photo album and they saw some of my action shots. I did a few sauters (so-tays) and taught them the ballet positions. At the ashram (all boys orphanage where we just play games the whole time) I taught them some “ninja” moves and they have fun with me as I intertwine some dance things in too.
One of the most tender moments I’ve had so far is when I was teaching my 5 senses workshop and randomly the 5th graders burst into this prayer that is sung in part English and Hindi. Apparently they sang it as an apology for how rowdy they were the previous day! The words literally touched my soul and I asked Juna to teach me some of the prayer. One phrase they repeat says, “I do believe that peace will overcome someday.” I looked into each of their dark, beautiful eyes as they sang their prayer and realized what huge potential these kids have. They have a lot of faith and I look up to them for that.
We performed in the cultural exchange today and it was so fun! The prestigious district commissioner came and there were supposedly 400 students there! We did our awesome dance numbers and songs and they did some great cultural dances and songs. My favorite part was when these older girl students with elaborate gold costumes and huge nose rings were dancing and the officials turned back to us and encouraged us girls to go dance with them. Madeline Hansen and I led out and we grabbed hands with the girls and danced while the crowd cheered really enthusiastically! We were warned beforehand about the older boy students and boundaries. It was a good thing too because they wanted pictures of us with them and even asked some of us to autograph their money… haha we were careful though. Tomorrow (Sunday) we get to go to a Hindi temple and get promise bracelets. I am so excited and love this culture that’s pretty chill. I’m living in the present and nothing could make me happier.