Namaste! (Good Morning)
All is well on the Indian home-front. We’ve spent the last week settling in, exploring, planning, and beginning to take things over here in the classrooms. Since we’ve been here, about 5 adoptions have taken place and we were able to witness the ceremonies and share in the celebrations with those families. The children have adjusted well to their friends being gone and all is back to normal here. Our experiences continue to grow and we’re discovering more about the children, our skills, and our personal abilities along the way. One little girl, who they believe has trained herself to keep her eyes shut because of the bad things she’s experienced at a previous orphanage, has started to keep her eyes open for longer periods of time while we’re around – a few minutes more each day just brings such a feeling of joy that can’t be put into words. She’s starting to come out of her shell and another little girl, who barely said two words when we arrived, is starting to laugh and talk more, so we’re incredibly excited. She’s starting to repeat English words after us, approach us more for attention and affection, and even speaking to us in Mirathi, which is leaps and bounds over what she was doing one week ago. The staff joins in on our excitement because the progress, with these two in particular, is something which they’ve been working on for months. We’re starting to realize that more of our impact may be on a social/emotional level for many of the children, more so than academic, and we’re growing to become more than okay with the idea of that --God’s using us as He sees fit. The experience overall has certainly been worlds different than we imagined, from the age groups to the activities and ways of schooling here but we’ve come to realize that, just because something’s different, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. I (Jackie) am in the Rainbow room, working with children from 3 years to about 9 years of age. The students in my primary group are between the ages 3 and 5, some with special needs and some without. I’ve planned activities that focus mostly around basic phonics and number sense skills, while delving into colors, shapes, and preliminary mathematical skills. They certainly enjoy the activities and the change of pace from sitting and writing for two hours each morning to being up jumping, dancing, and moving around. We mold letters, numbers, and shapes out of play-doh, use crayons and plain paper to work on animals and object/shape identification in English, and we’ve made maracas out of water bottles and rice to assist us with our nursery rhymes. For us, the change of pace has been exciting and has certainly required us to tap into our creative abilities, which has been both challenging and rewarding all at the same time. For the majority of the day, Rachel is down in the Twinkling Stars room with children ranging in age from 1.5 to 3.5 years. Her focus group consists of four children, with special needs --- One deaf, one blind, one with epilepsy, and one who is believed to have autism. She has developed some goals for her group and has started working with them, individually, this week. From time to time, we tag-team (especially outdoors) to help take away some of the pressure associated with being new to the environment here, and everything always falls into place. We’ve had the opportunity to shoot a ton of photos and plan on finding a way to share them with you all once we return home, since we can’t post them online here. The rest of this week should begin to solidify our new routines for us and the children and we look forward to offering an update next week. We've started to pick up bits and pieces of Mirathi and are learning a little more about the Indian culture each day. For this weekend, we’ve planned a bit of tourism and are looking forward to spending a day out and around Pune. We miss you all very much, pray that everyone is well at home, and send our love all the way to you.
|Some of the kitchen staff, caregivers, and teachers.|
|One of the cooks -- she makes sure we're fed VERY well|
|Some photographic moments along our journey|
|Elephant in traffic, during our Sunday walk through town|