Within a Hearbeat
04/01/2014 - 05/03/2014
With a heavy heart I report that my time as a school teacher has come to an end. Last Friday was my final day and I sadly left my host family the following Saturday afternoon. The hostel boys, Vatsala's brother Ananja and Deven's sister Deepa all saw me to the taxi stand. Everyone bid me farewell with love and gratitude and I felt my heart tugging at the thought of leaving and possibly never seeing this village or it's beautiful people again.
I am still grappling with the idea of altruistic volunteering. I can now honestly say that the choice to volunteer was more for self serving reasons than a pure desire to improve the lives of a village's school children. And I am okay with that. It is what I needed and what I wanted. So without much unnecessary thought I followed the Polka Dotted Unicorn into the forest. If I return to the school, which I have all desires and intentions to do, maybe then I can say my volunteering has been elevated to a more altruistic place. Otherwise, it all becomes a memory.
The other grapple : Was my work effective? I'm sure somewhat. But teaching is HARD and takes more planning than I ever thought. Props to all the teachers reading and all my teachers who molded my adolescent years. Our last lesson was creating a school newspaper for the older kids and rewriting fairy tales for the younger kids. They did amazing work and I think they learned a few things.
I attempted with all my lessons to challenge their thinking. Ask them questions they have never been asked and pose ideas that life in a hill station will not ordinarily offer. But with only 5 weeks (4 weeks after all the holidays) of 40 minute classes (30 minutes on Fridays), I think I was a mostly a break from the norm. I was a strange creature that provided a peek into life outside their village.
Class 6 surprised me and EACH gave me homemade cards! I was floored. Some of them even cried. Not for me though. I think just to see if they could cry on command. When you're 10 and your friend cries there is peer pressure for you to cry. So one drama queen started to cry and before I knew it all the children had these sad faces as they tried to get their tear ducts to work! It was the cutest thing. Of course I told them to knock it off and come outside to the playground with me!
I also got pens, a teddy bear, Nepali scarves which they give to guests kind of like Hawaiians give leis, and this vase.
Yeah, imagine me trying to stuff that in my backpack. Somehow I did though. Couldn't leave it behind. Tovah I think it should go in your room ;-). By the way, my backpack now weighs about 25kgs. I started with about 13. The ever growing:
I am now off to month 3 of my journey. A brief stop in Kolkata. A plane ride to Bangalore where I will enjoy some much needed 5 star R&R with a friend and then a 10 day silent Vipassana Meditation retreat. I know! What about the beach right? Travel takes unexpected twists and turns. I'm happily enjoying the ride. Not to worry. I will see the beach...even if it is monsoon season ;-)
Before I sign off here are a few of my favorite pics from my time here:
Ended in a heartbeat. Memory until forever.
Thank you Magno Vale.