Around the world

Around the world; a Nation Hopper's journy to teach on all 7 continents.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Being thankful

Living over seas is full of countless rewards. I have experienced so many, learning a new language, living a way I never thought possible, having an impact on a community, having a community make an impact on you, making dozens of new friends. The list goes on and on. It widens your understanding of the world, the understanding that there are people on the other side of the world that coexist with you even though you did not know it.The biggest reward that I have encountered has to be the connection of one human being to another. We are all the same, and yet so different. All of us searching for the answers to the same question. Sitting in the classroom, teaching them how to speak English, or teaching them about another country. The way they lean forward in their seats, the absorbed looked on their faces, the way they light up when they show you what they know. It's pure joy, there is no equal.

Living over seas is full of sacrifices. You  don't realize when you leave just what those sacrifices are going to be. But in an instant, you find yourself making them, sometimes unwillingly. The biggest sacrifices I have made is missing my grandfathers funeral. He passed away Thursday night, an out of the blue heart attack that proved fatal. I cannot be there to speak at his service. I cannot be there to put flowers on his grave. I cannot be there to comfort my family. Its horrifying, the helplessness that over comes you. The numb, empty space inside your chest that sleep, food, books, faces cannot fill.
I am thankful that I was able to have dinner with him before I left for Thailand. I am thankful for those in Albuquerque who are able to comfort my family. I am thankful for Sue, Suzan, and Chris who prayed for me the morning of. I am thankful I had 21 wonderful years with my grandfather. I am thankful I had such an amazing grandfather. I am thankful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Diwali, Metro and puppies

Last night was Diwali and boy was it loud. The crackers sound like bombs and gun shots. It was terrifying the first time one went off in front of the house, I nearly had a heart attack.

Ruth, Suzan's daughter

Sue and Suzan lighting a cracker

Before setting off the crackers we all piled into the car and went to Metro. Last time we bought food for three days, this time we bought food for two weeks.

325 kgs of rice, 715 pounds. 10 kgs of cabbage, 22 pounds

30 kgs of dal, 66 pounds. 7 kgs of tamarind, 15.4 pounds. 2 kgs of red chili, 4.5 pounds.  

5,760 biscuits!! That's 4 biscuits day/child for 2days/week

I hardly fit in the car with all the boxes and bags of rice

One of the stray dogs that live on our street had puppies two nights ago. Sue and I heard this mewing and thought one of the cats had kittens. But then we saw Bendie (the dog got hit by a motorcycle as a puppy and her back leg is bent out, so we named her Bendie) and ran over. She had 6 puppies. One did  not make it. She had them in the neighbors yard and I go over and feed Bendie twice a day.

The black and white on on the right is my favorite :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lunch at Maggie

Some of the teachers were late this morning, tisk tisk. I decided to go into one of the teacherless classrooms, 5th standard, and 'teach' the kids until the teachers got to school. As soon as I stepped into the classroom, the kids were up out of their seats calling good morning, laughing and demanding that I listen to them sing. I let them sing and remembered I had my camera, they were more then happy to sing again. Unfortunatly the vedio is taking too long to upload, maybe it'll show up later? I drew a very bad map of the US and showed them where my family lives and where I live. They were very surprised to learn I live 14 hours in a car away from my mom and dad. They asked me questions and somehow we ended up playing hangman for fourty minutes. These kids are good at spelling! After I explined the game and wrote the fgirst guess word on the board, I had 40 kids shouting at me. "Ma'am! Ma'am! I know I know! G! H! Y! T! F! A!" I tried to get them to quiet down so I could speak, that wasnt happening. So I sat on the ground until they all finally stopped talking. I told them I was only going to call on them for a letter if their hand was up and they were sitting quietly. The girls got it right away and for the first 2-3 games, only the girls played. Finally one boy got up and sat against the wall with his hand in the air. I called on him. The other boys all got up and sat against the wall. We had ourselves a grand 'ol time.

I skipped out on eating lunch today and spent 35 minutes with the kids. The boys got a game a cricket going and all the girls wanted their picture taken.

Tomorrow is Duwali, the festival of lights. There will be lots of fireworks, known here as crackers. Suzan, Chris, Jacob, and Ruth will come over and set off crackers with us, I'm super excited!

The play ground, two seasaws, two swings, and a b-ball hoop

Opening ceremony

The boys playing cricket at lunch

The girl on the right is Trisha, one of the teachers daughters

Me and some of the kids

These girls are sweet and come to talk to me every chance they get.

Some of the boys

Best friends

Rocky lives in the slum. He belonged to the old gatekeeped who died of a heartattach last fall.

The cricket ball got stuck on the roof

Another daughter of a teacher

This girl was at Vijaya's birthday party

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Vijayaloxmi!!

Today we went over to Vijayaloxmi's house to celebrate her birthday! She had several of the kids from the school as well as neighbourhood kids there too. The 'grown ups' (Sue, Chris, Suzan, and Vijaya) sat and talked inside while I flitted between them and the kids outside. Once I pulled out my camera, that was it. Everyone wanted their picture taken, so I took about 100 pictures today.

 After the birthday party we went to see Priya, one of the teachers, at the hospital. She had a baby girl yesterday and I got to hold her before the doctor came in and yelled at us. He didn't want anyone to touch the baby, not even Priya! He said that if anyone touched the baby (especially those of us who had just come from outside), she would get sick. This is a true statement, the baby could indeed get sick. The stupid thing was, the door was open into the courtyard not five feet from Priya's bed! I wanted to give the doctor one of those 'are you nuts?!' look, but did not. He immediately took the baby from me and put her on the bed next to Priya. The second he left, Priya picked her baby up and handed her to me. Haha! Here are some pictures!!

Vijaya and her daughter Artie

In India, you feed the birthday person cake, the kids stuffed it into Vijaya's mouth

Vijaya and the kids

Vijaya feeding Chris cake

Vijaya and Suzan

My turn!

Priya's little baby girl! She was born at 9-something am yesterday

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fast food

Today was a reallly long day.

First all the teachers came over for teacher training. We basically sat and played a bunch of different games so the teachers could familiarize themselves with said games and use them in the class rooms. I was in charge of skip-bo, which is a kind of lame version of speed and uno. But I had a lot of fun sitting and chatting with the teachers about techniques they have to get the kiddo interested in learning. They are all very excited about the new reading program. Hopefully I'll be able to give them a training on it next Saturday.

After the staff left, Suzan, Chris, Sue and I packed into the car and headed to Metro which is an Indian version of Costco. It took us an hour to get there, traffic in India is terrible. You'll have 2 actual lanes but there are easily 4 lanes of cars. The buses stop for nobody, mopeds zig in and out of the cars, people pull u turns like theres no tomorrow, and there are a zillion (yes I counted) people driving around.

Sue and I were very impressed with Metro. It was clean and as orderly as you can get in India. We have been thinking of ways to cut down on costs and one idea was to buy the school lunch in bulk at Metro. This week, well the coming week, is going to be a test run. For three days (Wednesday is a holiday, and the cook has a days worth of food left over from last week) we picked up 120 kilograms of rice which equals to 264 pounds! 30 kgs of dal, 66 pounds (dal is a yellow lintel that they cook to a gravy like consistency. It's really good, spicy. We also bought a huge bag of chili powder and 66 pounds of onions. All this for only three days! But its worth it, as Sue says.

I can't believe how different some things are here. For instance, I went to Metro wearing jean cut offs and a tee shirt. The way the men were oggling me, you'd think I was in a mini skirt and tank top! I couldn't believe it. They were stare and stare and stare until finally I'd make eye contact with them. Then they'd stare some more. It's very, intimidating, to have all of these random people staring at you like they've never seen a pair of legs before. I'm sure part of this is also due to the fact I'm the only blond within 100 miles. In Thailand, Westerners are pretty common, even in Nang Rong. Thai's have gotten used to seeing them around so they dont pay me much attention. But not here. I have not seen one Westerner, not even in the airport and I was there for 6 hours. Every time Sue and I step out of the car, we stop traffic. Literally.

On our way back we stopped at McDonald's to have dinner. This made me laugh. They don't have hamburgers or play equipment. They do have veggie burgers, a delivery service Mcflurries, Backstreet Boys and old school Britney Spears playing over the loud speaker and a metal detector outside the front door. The veggie burger wasn't bad (though it wasn't good), the music very 90's, and the metal dectector didn't make you feel any safer. Suzan told me that four years ago a park was bombed and a bunch of people were killed during a festival. Ever since then businesses have put up metal detectors up in front of their doors. Yikes!

Now to bed, if I can stop singing 'all you people can't you see can't you see' and picturing my sister and uncle singing and dancing along at the BB concert.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


This all happened yesterday, but I came home and took an allergy pill which knocked me out around 7 and didn't get a chance to tell you about my day at school, so I'm doing it now.

Tuesday, as we dropped off some of the teachers, Marry asked if I would come by her classroom first thing tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. So I spend first and second period with Marry in her art class. First period was 5th standard, which is as high as the school goes. The girls were working on embroidery and stitching while the boys were sketching. They all laughed heartily when I suggested the boys learn how to stitch as well. I talked with Marry and she showed me all the posters she had drawn. Marry was the librarian they call it library teacher.  But the Bible school teacher, Keeshore is at bible school studying to become a pastor . So Rebbecca took over the library so someone could take over the bible study and some how Marry ended up as the art teacher this year. She is very anxious to get back into library because she enjoys reading to the kids so much.  I was late to school so I only sat with that class for thirty minutes.

4th standard came in, there were 30 kids! They combine the two 4th standard classes because splitting the kids into two 15 size classes is not cost efficient. Marry and I took the kids outside and played games. Marry gave me a group of girls and we played duck duck goose and Simon says. They all had so many questions for me so we sat down and passed a ball around asking each other questions.

I had to go sit at a desk and get my project finished, though I would have loved nothing better then to sit in Marry's class all day. Gayle, I cant remember if I've mention Gayle before. She is an Australian teacher who is helping Sue and Jack with the schools. She found this reading program, Reading A-Z and I am working on down loading all the books, printing them, binding them and getting them ready to put into the library.

Unfortunately the computer ran out of juice at 2:30 and I just had to sit in two more classes. I ended up back in Marry's last two classes. In which we played more games. You might be thinking this is all they do in the classes here, but I assure you today was unusual. This time is was checkers and the hand game with the rhyme 'down by the banks of the hanky panky'. The kids loved it. Rajitha had her class sitting next to ours. She had some puzzle spelling flash cards and was playing a speed game with her kids.

When the bell ran you heard about 40 kids groaning because they were not ready to go home. As the kids slowly dragged their feet out of the gate each and everyone of them waved and said good bye. Talk about brightening your day. My mouth hurt from smiling so much, but I couldn't stop.

Group of girls playing duck duck goose

Group of boys playing duck duck goose. Marry is in the back ground.


This is what you get if try and take a direct picture of someone. It's best to take a picture when they are not looking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Driving to school

My allergies have been acting up (I think they are so bad because of the ride in the tuk-tuk Sue, Suzan and I rode in on Sunday. The tuk-tuks are the little yellow cab things in the pictures below). I woke up feeling like death this morning with a runny nose and enough phlem to scare off the Mucinex ganster bugger. I ran, hoping it would help me feel better. It made me feel worse. When ever I go out in public, people stare at me (and Sue if shes with me) like I've got lobsters growing out of my ears. It's very uncomfortable to have so many people gawking at you. I was hoping 6:30 was early enough that people would still be inside their house, but no.

Sue and I went to school at 8:30 this morning. We picked up Jashreey and Rajitha on the way. I took some pictures as we drove down the main road. I got to work in a few classrooms today! The kids where thrilled that they were able to sit and talk with me. One of the teachers was absent, so I helped Rajitha sub in two classes.


A Hindu temple

The guest house

This is where the night watchman lives