Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Life in Crazy Crazy Udaipur

PROJECT: Teaching
WRITTEN BY: Nancy Bucher

I lie in my bed after waking up - the air is still and the sunlight creeps through the cracks in my curtains. There are long streaks of quietness intertwined with the sporadic noises of dogs howling and the colourful and upbeat sound of truck horns.

It's roughly 9am when I am greeted with the familiar voice of Pankaj yelling from downstairs that breakfast is ready. Typically, an array of Indian porridge, spicy omelettes, toast, bananas and chai are spread out ready for us to dig in. A sneaky jar of Vegemite is also hidden in our fridge for us Aussies craving a familiar piece of home.

With bellies full, we hurry upstairs to the collect the bags which we have prepared with lesson activities and games for our students, mine grade 2, and all cram into a van - one van goes to the Aakhriya school and one to Sonariya. The drive is windy and bumpy as we scoot past the local houses, farms, hotels and fruit markets before arriving at our school. I spend roughly one and a half hours teaching my grade 2’s who learn about numbers, letters, writing their name and colours. Each day we sing the hello and goodbye song with all of the kids and volunteers which is the best way to start and finish the school day. Because my school lacks English teaching volunteers, the language barrier between the kids and I is the hardest part of the job, sometimes it's like talking to a brick wall. Everyday, we make the tiniest of improvements, but that's all I can hope for.

It's just past midday now and the group of 18 re-group back at the house. Lunch is served, an assortment of curries, naan bread, yoghurt, rice, papaya or pineapple and cucumber.

After lunch, the daily schedule varies but generally we have a few hours of 'free' time which I use to lesson plan (this takes up a lot of time), visit the local store or markets, chat to the other volunteers, read on the balcony in the warm sunlight and write in my journal.

It hits 4pm and we all gather together with excited grins - it's chai time! Huddled and in need of a pick me up, we all enjoy a cup of this traditional Indian tea of mixed spices and ginger, and a cheeky pack of Parle-g biscuits.

Our short lived break is over as the group make our way to the boys home which was established to care for orphans and destitutes. Because the boys go to school during the day, our role there is to build their confidence through educational games and activities, followed by games of soccer, volleyball or bullrush.

By 7pm, bodies are hungry and exhausted. Dinner is served, the dishes similar to the lunch menu. I retreat upstairs to finish lesson planning for tomorrow, a few hours pass, and then I relax with the other volunteers after the hustle of the day. We're tired, beaten and bruised, eyelids falling down, but I feel the excitement for what the next day brings because as tough as teaching the English lacking grade 2’s and the cheeky boys at the home can be, the joy and smile that glows on their faces as we approach makes everything worth it.

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