Saturday, August 11, 2012

An English Medium School

The school that I visited began operating out of a carpenter's shed in 1993 in a suburb of the Kerala city of Calicut. The school opened with only a handful of students and a few dedicated nuns with a vision. Today there are 1600 students attending from the age of three (LKG - lower kindergarten) to the age of 18 years (Plus II post-secondary). Right from the start there was a focus on learning English and all classes are taught in English except for Hindi lessons and a daily class in Malayalam.

The school is run by a group of resourceful, intelligent nuns who are Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco. With a strong vision, excellent leadership and pure hard work they have created a school environment with high expectations for academic achievement and moral/social development. And they have managed to do it with extremely limited resources.

Each morning begins with singing, a prayer, a story, and the recitation of the Indian national pledge.

"India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters."

"I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it."

"I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect, and treat everyone with courtesy."

"To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well-being and prosperity alone lies my happiness."

Scenes from the classroom.

Plus II students waiting for their teacher to arrive for their daily lesson in values education.

Maps and charts hanging in the library.

Students in a standard three classroom.

A geography class.

The Principal's office.

Test taking with standard five students.

Shoes outside the library.

At work in the chemistry lab.

Teachers grading papers in the teacher's lounge.

The upper school playground.

Upper kindergarten.

Plus II students greeting their teacher at the start of the lesson.

Dismissal time a 3:45 p.m.

The classrooms in this school operate with the bare minimum. There are no computers in the classrooms, the library is not large. Average class size is 45 students and one teacher. There are no wi-fi connections or word walls or stacks of paper or art supplies. One photo-copier serves the whole school. Yet things get done. Children are learning. There is a culture of working toward the common good with a spirit of cooperation and compassion. How lucky am I to have spent a moment in time with all of the people who are here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monsoon Monday

It has been raining for two days now as the monsoon season comes to an end. While we spent the day in the library testing reading skills with the seventh and ninth grade students, the rest of the school carried on as usual despite the downpours.

Nothing can put a damper on this much positive energy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wayanad Wandering

Today was a day to see the Wayanad area of Kerala. We began this morning by meeting Zachariah, who would be driving us to see what we could see.

Wayanad is at around 800 meters above sea level and is thick with tropical vegetation, tea and coffee plantations, spices and wild animals. The tea plantations create a beautiful textural landscape.

Here are some tea pickers harvesting young leaves.

We also saw rice paddies.

People carrying things.

At Pookote Lake we enticed a monkey out of a tree with a small banana. Soon all of his friends joined him and we had to flee down the path with monkeys in hot pursuit.

We saw a waterfall.

And visited a Jain Temple that was built in the 9th century.

Gorgeous carvings on the columns.

Later in the day we walked through town in Valavanchal and came upon a small Hindu Temple. The temple priest invited us in.

Two young boys walked with us back to the road. They gave us orange string friendship bracelets before going on their way.

On the way back through town we met a family in front of their house. The grandparents, the grandmother's sister and brother, four of their children with their spouses and all of the grandchildren live together in two houses side by side.

Here are the grandchildren.

The grandmother invited us in for chai.

Everyone posed for a photo.

I will not forget the warmth and generosity of this family or the magical wanderings of this day.