My Life In India
Hello one and all,
Today I am writing my blog post from the hospital, as I sit with my dear friend Brittany who is currently very, very sick and quite incredibly tough. This is hospital visit number two for her in less than 12 hours, and the Indian health care system is no small beast to contend with, even on the healthiest of days.
So, as she sleeps, I figured now is as good a time as any to create a new blog post, since it has been quite some time since I updated you all on my life here in India.
A quick synopsis of my life since my last post: THANKSGIVING. That’s it. Really, that’s it. Thanksgiving was so incredible, though it has left me wondering: why have we not instituted monthly Thanksgivings so that I may be thankfully consuming that amount of delicious food year round?
Truthfully, there is no possible way for me to over-exaggerate my Thanksgiving experience in India. It was just too good.
It all started the night before Thanksgiving, when I prepared my now famous dessert concoction in the one community pan, all while we had no running water. Small aside: Currently, there are six volunteers living in my home. That is not including the 20 or so World Racers or the staff who live with us, too. That many people under one roof means two things: wifi is virtually nonexistent and the water runs out nearly everyday. (Shout out to the roommates who helped wash my hands with the drinking water from my water bottle as I cooked). My fried banana, caramel, cake crumble deliciousness was the stuff of Thanksgiving dreams, and I surely enjoyed every bite of it, friends.
The morning of Thanksgiving began with pancakes! Chocolate chip pancakes with syrup. Then, I followed that American breakfast with Indian Breakfast—Chapati (which I am assuming translates to “the best India breakfast to ever exist”) with potato curry. After going to my morning school session, two friends and I went walking around the city and ended up (illegally) entering a dinosaur park.
With the afternoon off, we continued our day of fun and bought a tennis ball, made fools of ourselves playing in the street, and then walked to another SCH home where the rest of the Thanksgiving feast was waiting. And I feasted. FEASTED. The food was incredible, the company was better, and the meat sweats and food coma were predictable consequences of such a perfect day.
I would say more has been happening, which is very, very true, but nothing surmounts the joy that Thanksgiving has brought me. It is, after all, my absolute favorite holiday.
Now that I have fully relived that precious night and have begun craving the excellence of Thanksgiving again (all while sitting in an Indian hospital at midnight), I think it is wise to shift gears and continue my blog posts about my students, as promised, lest I eat through my pillow, wishing it were pumpkin pie.
Right. My students.
Today, I am thinking about my three older students: Jeanette (11), Victoria (12), and Stephanie (15). They are precious to me. Background info/aside: SCH (Sarah’s Covenant Homes) is a foster care system that houses kiddos with special needs. In the Hyderabad campus there are 120 or so children that are spread out between four homes: Courage, Anchor, Jubilee, and Joy. Within these homes there are smaller houses—usually occupying one floor of the building—which may or may not have a foster mom. Regardless of the presence of a foster mom, each floor operates like a family. These students live in Joy Home. They used to go to school in the city, but it are very behind their grade level, so they are now coming to Courage Home for sessions at ASB (Anjali School for the Blind).
I am trying to remember when I first met and began working with these students…I want to say maybe 3 weeks ago…? Time sometimes is so fuzzy. Everyday feels like the beginning of our relationship, mostly because I am still unpacking and uncovering, learning and discovering what they can do and who they are. Each day, I am learning more and more about what little, beautiful boogers they are.
Let’s begin with Stephanie.
Stephanie is the definition of gentle. She is quiet and loving; calm. She is excited when you hold her hand, greet her, or ask if she wants high-fives. Of these students, she is the most challenging to get to know because she often falls to the background behind the rambunctiousness of the other two. It is always so rewarding to see her progress, hear her respond unexpectedly, or see her join in activities with the other students. She is a quiet enthusiast, and moments spent with her begin and end with sweet smiles.
Currently, Stephanie is working on learning braille, specifically her alphabet. She is making progress in her understanding of braille characters, how to correctly move her fingers across a line of braille, and is also beginning to understand the phonics associated with letters. She is a world of limitless potential, and I am excited to better develop a plan that will foster her independence and access to the world around her.
Wow, oh, wow, Victoria. Victoria is, what we call in the biz, a low vision student. She is able to see color, identify people, identify large print letters within VERY close proximity, and relies most heavily on her sense of sight. Though she prefers her vision, reading print is exhausting and slow, which is why we are developing a braille and print program for her. She will read print functionally, and academically she will read braille.
She knows most of her braille alphabet and can write it rather proficiently with a slate and stylus. I am excited to see her progress from the alphabet, to words, to sentences, to stories. She is bright and I am very confident in her ability to make that progress, but please pray that I can create the right learning environment for her to develop those skills.
It is very difficult to describe Victoria. I am trying to find the words that will adequately explain what I’ve learned about her so far and all I can come up with is: She is happy, she is a force, she is fearless, and she is sassy. Sometimes too sassy. Though she has undeniable, sometimes overwhelming, spunk. I secretly enjoy listening and watching these little moments unfold. She’s quite funny and she knows it.
Finally, the youngest (and perhaps the most wild) of this bunch: Jeanette.
Luckily, she has the most exposure and has been taught the most braille, though she is still behind where she should be. Jeanette, I am learning is very quick to learn and very quick to become bored. She is fearless, constantly exploring, and always asserting her independence. Her enthusiasm is always endearing, heartwarming, and always a force to contend with.
Recently, while reviewing the phonics of the alphabet, she said to me, “Me picture taking,” so here is a picture of young Jeanette working away.
There is so much to say about Jeanette. I always love when I hear her raspy voice call my name from another room; I always love when she shows off new knowledge; I love when I ask how many high fives she wants and she says one hundred. Keeping up with her is always a challenge and always so much fun.
Well, that is it for this post. Sorry for the lack of conclusion!
Thank you so much for reading about my life here and my wonderful students!