Wednesday, October 5, 2016

ANCHOR and the beach

Day 6 photos

Wesley's birthday

Spaghetti construction challenge

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Day Five: Chinchoti, India : 3 October 2016

By Helen Ding: Our Homestay

Our host family owns a shop at the corner. This family is made up of three people: two parents named Bhavna and Manoher, and their son Kuldip. This morning Bhavna and Kuldip went to the fish market. Waking us up, Manoher took out a box and opened it up. He started putting things together, and when he settled everything, we recognized that it was a harmonica.

Manoher offered us a chance to sing while he played a harmony. He hummer a beautiful rhythm and even composes his own songs. He’s quite extroverted and is willing to talk about all the songs that he has collected in a notebook.

Late in the day, after we finished the dancing session, my roommates and I went back home. By the time we opened the door, we were surprised to find that there seemed to be a party taking place in the living room. There were people there playing drums, and also dancing, which made it crowded. Many of our neighbors came for the party and they invited us to join them. We took turns either with clapping with the audience of doing some dance. Manoher sat behind his big box, playing the harmonica and singing.

He reminds me in some ways of the crystal merchant in "The Alchemist"; But unlike the crystal merchant, the things that he’s longing for becomes his way to get away from the daily grind rather than being trapped in his village.

By Vera Wang: School and work
We went to a local elementary school at 10 in the morning. We were separated into into two groups, one working to move away some dirt by putting it in the back and a truck, and the other helping to carry concrete. At first I didn’t do well with the mixing, the with the instructions and help from teacher Effy and student Crystal I started to do it very well.

Thanks folks!!!

After about one and a half hours of working, we took a break and had some juice and more water. Then we changed jobs, and everyone worked very hard. Everyone worked beyond my expectations. During the work, I saw kids in the school playing and studying together, it made me recall my childhood: little homework and only five classes a day!

After we were finished, we went home for our lunch with our homestay families. Later in the afternoon, we had dancing lessons!

Day Four Blog: by Tom Xiao and Khepri Zhang

Since yesterday was the first time our students met their host families, we asked the leaders of the day, Tom and Khepri, to journal their experiences traveling to Chinchoti and their first night in the homestay. Khepri and Tom are staying in different houses. One of our teachers, Effy (Huang Jun), is also staying in a homestay with some of the students. In the coming days, she will make a blog post in Chinese describing her experiences in the homestay.

Tom’s Journal
We woke up early, at 6 AM before the sun rose. We had to get everything done perfectly so we could start out new journey to the peaceful village of Chinchoti. It was a long, tough trip, because the weather was not good and the boat was cancelled.

Instead, we had to take a bus the whole way, but we made it in the end! Along the way, Carlos and Krishna engaged us in a scavenger hunt, which revealed numerous natural and cultural features of the landscape; we saw things like funeral pyres, goddess statues, and corrugated metal roofs. After we arrived in Chinchoti, the people gave us the warmest welcome, with delicious, aromatic milk tea. We then had our first learning session in Chinchoti: “Why are we here?” Every kid and adult elaborated on their story and reasons why we are here. Some people came here to investigate the world. Some people are here for enhancing communication skills. We also long for learning to recognize both our own and others’ perspectives. Others are devoted to this program because they simply take actions readily. It was a chance for us to re-evaluate ourselves and to be introspective. It’s the time for us to connect ourselves to the local community. At our anchor session, we shared out appreciations. I appreciate the cute white kitty in our homestay, the Indian McDonalds we ate for lunch, and all the milk tea everyone made. We introduced news about tomorrow, and people seem excited about cooking with our host families and learning about Indian dance. Many of us are a little concerned, but also excited about going to school tomorrow, but Chris told us to “go with the flow.”

Khepri’s Journal
Today, we had a long trip to a village. It was a long and sometimes boring trip, because nobody wanted to play cards on the bus :( We had McDonalds and the food made everybody crazy! We got plenty of food for our stomach. In the afternoon, we went to the village and got to our houses and families. My house mother and sister can speak a little English. We got to know each other quickly and played UNO a lot. In a word, the countryside of India is beautiful.

Our sixteen people work together and nothing can stop us. Training our heart is the point of this trip.

Monday, October 3, 2016

More photos!

DAY TWO SUMMARY, by Crystal Liu and Jimmy Lu

After breakfast, Krishna encouraged us to be confident and comfortable during our visit to the Dharavi slum. We all shared our thoughts and expectations of what we would see, and Krishna told us to go in with a open mind. People in Dharavi are proud of their work and where they live, and he encouraged us to respect what we saw. A few hours later, we learned that Dharavi was very different from what we expected, in a good way.
We were surprised to find out that we were taking public transit to get to Dharavi—some of us were a little nervous. The bus was hot and crowded, and the doors were always open, but it was a good ride. Just like in China, people were traveling to work, watching movies on their phones, or sleeping against the window. Same stuff, different country! After getting off the bus, we met Krishna’s coworker, Suraj, and jumped on a train that would take us to Dharavi. We were in the second class car, which is the most popular choice for people taking the trains in Mumbai. During the trip, we learned a lot about how people took the train in India. We were surprised to learn that people often like standing more than sitting! Suraj taught us how to jump off of a moving train at the station. Don’t worry, though, we only got off once the train had stopped; Suraj just told us how people sometimes jump off when it is still moving, and we got to see a few passengers do it.
In Dharavi, the first place we visited was the industrial area. We went into a factory that recycled plastic and another that recycled tin cans, like the ones used to carry paint. Even though it is called a slum, and people often have negative opinions of slums, Dharavi is a very important place partly because of those factories. People were friendly and happy to tell us about their work, and we saw what Krishna meant when he said people were proud of what they were doing. We left the industrial area and took a walk through the streets where people live. The houses were small, there were lots of children playing, and the streets were sometimes very narrow. We saw how close people lived together in Dharavi. The kids were so cute and almost everyone said “Hello” or “Namaste” as we walked through!
After walking through Dharavi, we went to Krishna’s NGO, Reality Gives, and met some young Indian people who grew up in Dharavi. They were all students taking courses in English and computers, and they were really excited to practice English and meet us. At first we were a little nervous, because we didn’t know what to talk about, but having lunch together made us all feel comfortable. After lunch, we had a question and answer session. The Indian students got to ask us five questions about China and we asked five questions about India and Dharavi. When it was time to leave, everyone was sad—we still wanted to talk and learn more about each other.
We end the day back at the hotel, playing funny games together. Dinner was AMAZING and it was at a cool restaurant on a roof nearby our hotel. Tomorrow, we will be traveling to Chinchoti. We are a little nervous about the travel, but everything has been great so far and we know it will continue to be a awesome trip.

Day One Summary – By Wesley Du and Edward Li

            Even with only a few hours of sleep, we woke up on Friday morning ready for the day’s activities! We started the day by having orientation with Carlos and Krishna, our WLS staff for the trip. We talked about our expectations, norms, and our concerns about the trip. We talked about how we would be leaving our comfort zone and entering a “zone” that helps us learn and discover new ideas.

            After our meeting, we walked to the nearby waterfront and saw the huge Gate of India, which was made to celebrate a visit by the British king, but it also kind of celebrates India’s independence after the last British soldiers left.

            From there, we got on our bus and drove across Mumbai to see the Ban Ganga. The Ban Ganga is a holy place for many Hindu people, with lots of temples surrounding the area. There is also a spring there, where people were leaving gifts for the gods and washing themselves. This was also the first time on the trip where we got to see the reality of life for many people in Mumbai; there were people begging for food and money, including children. This was a new experience for all of us, because the conditions we saw were very different from what we see in Shanghai. We don’t totally understand what we saw yet, but we hope that we learn more.

            After having a delicious Indian lunch, we went to visit the house that Gandhi stayed in whenever he was in Mumbai. We didn’t know very much about Gandhi before visiting the home, but we left with a better understanding of his beliefs and how he lived his life. Mr. Chris told us that Gandhi once said, “People who want to change the world just need a book and a small desk.” No wifi and no internet!

            Finally, we ended our day’s tour with a trip through a busy, busy marketplace. The crowds in the marketplace reminded us of different schools of fish—there were large groups moving in every direction, and sometimes it was hard to keep together. Krishna showed us some of the stalls selling materials for Hindu holidays. He also brought us to a place where cows are kept and taken care of. Cows are holy animals in Hinduism, so taking care of them is a very serious and important job.

            We took taxis back to our hotel and had a short rest before dinner. After dinner was finished, Carlos and Krishna led us in one final meeting, where we talked about our appreciations, news about tomorrow’s activities, concerns we had, and our hopes for the next day. At the end of the meeting, Carlos encouraged us to write a journal about our observations throughout the day—thinking about what we saw.

            All in all, after today’s experiences we are looking forward to learning more and we are excited for our trip to Dharavi slum tomorrow morning.