It was a tough week. For the first time, I was “alone” in India and on top of that, I was just beginning the most involved segment of my internship. The week contained 5k’s and birthdays with everything in-between. However, despite the rigor of the week, it was by far my best week in India!
On Sunday, the other intern and I, along with some boarding students, participated in a wheelchair 5k to help raise awareness for the handicapped population of Asia. In order to show up on time for the 5k we had to leave the school by 5am, which is not an easy task when you involve 8th graders. After finally rounding everyone up and taking an hour-long bus ride into the city we had arrived at the 5k starting location, a place called cubbon park, one of the most beautiful places in Bangalore. We were all given a partner in a wheelchair and then hastely corralled to the starting line. As we all crowded the starting line, which was in the center of Bangalores cricket stadium, the radios boomed with the song “Waving Flag” and the bystanders frantically cheered in anticipation for the start. I still remember the surreal feeling I had looking around when the starting gun was fired. The 5k itself was beautiful I never, in 100 years, would have ever thought I’d run a 5k through the heart of Banglalore. At the end of the 5k all the finishers were welcomed by an ocean of dancing people who would part like the red sea when we walked through them. At the end of the day all the students who came along couldn’t contain their excitement about the race, it was really rewarding to listen to them explain how much fun they had!
Monday morning the other intern left for northern India to begin his cl experience and I stayed on campus to begin mine. I could barely sleep Sunday night with all the anticipation that I had built up for Monday morning. I had the whole session planned out from icebreakers to creative writing exercises that would help the 7th graders in their journaling. I showed up a half an hour early to my class to get everything set up. Slowly but surely the students meandered into the class. All the students were giddy with excitement because for them CL signified the end of the school year. At 8:15 I had my second surreal moment of the week. I settled everyone down and was about to begin my class. At that moment, I had a very brief panic attack. I looked around the room to see 29 pairs of wide curious eyes staring me down. I had never trained to be a teacher before, I had no idea how to manage a class, I had no idea what a lesson plan was, but nonetheless there I was, “Mr. Costa” ready to begin his lesson. However, this panic attack was short lived. I ran the kids through an icebreaker where they had to say their name and come up with a dance move, the catch being if I forgot their name I would have to do their dance move in front of the class. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it. Once I settled the kids down again the rest of the class went very smoothly. After running them through their schedule we had time left over so I implemented the “sell the snake” creative writing exercise in which the kids pretend they’re a pet store owner trying to sell a giant snake. All the kids really enjoyed it! Some of them even wanted to share their snake ad with the class, overall it was a great first day, however, the days to come would get gradually more frustrating. By the fourth day, the students could barely contain their excitement. Trying to get them to journal was almost impossible because the students wouldn’t stop talking. I had to keep walking to the front of the classroom to get them to quiet down. At the end of the day my voice was obliterated. One of the teachers noticed my struggles and gave me some great pointers on classroom management. I was excited to try these techniques on day 5.
Day 5 of CL was a memorable day. To set the scene it was my first birthday “alone”, all my friends and family were thousands of miles away. During this internship, I have definitely had my moments of loneliness and isolation but all of those moments paled in comparison to the feeling of waking up alone in a foreign country on my birthday. I pulled myself together and got ready to go to my classroom. In my classroom that morning I had my third surreal experience of the week. The students welcomed me with a booming barrage of birthday wishes and cards, they even sung happy birthday to me! I almost teared up in front of the whole class. I was “alone” in the sense that my friends and family were thousands of miles away, but these students warded off my feeling of isolation with their welcoming cheer. When class begun, I tried the new techniques for classroom management and they worked flawlessly. The students worked diligently on their journals and conversations were kept to a hushed whisper. After school, the teachers took me to a nearby restaurant to celebrate my birthday. We all sat at the same table and celebrated the end of the week, the beginning of cl, and of course my birthday. The teachers even got me a cake and sung happy birthday to me! I would say it was one of my best birthday experiences.
Although I began this week “alone” as the other intern left for his journey, I was never really alone. The teachers and the students have made a welcoming home for me at this school. This week has been by far the most challenging of my internship, but at the same time it has also been the most rewarding week of my internship as well!