Monday, June 6, 2011


I’m am pleased to announce that through the grace of God and with the help of loving family and friends I have met the $9,000 fundraising goal. Thank-you! I am so grateful for all the overwhelming love and support I have received during the past 9 months. Prior to leaving for India, I was really worried about being lonely but these past months have proven to be a time of abundant expressions of support and love (so much so I may just live abroad for the rest of my life for the fantastic care packages!!) In all seriousness, thank-you! It may have seemed like a simple card, or even a consideration during your daily prayers but the support has been felt from 8,000 miles away and for that I’m grateful. However, what excites me most, is the furthering of God’s love in this world; together we joined hands to spread love through our gifts both spiritual and monetary and for that I’m smiling EVEN bigger!!!

A Birthday to Remember

This week I turned 23 and as I told my Mom during our birthday conversation, I finally feel old enough to be considered an adult, so I guess my grown-up life has begun, if it hadn’t before….maybe this explains my lack of sleep due to excitement of turning 23 on the eve of June 1st!
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of the day. Birthdays at home have always been relatively simple- with the big deal being you have your choice of a dinner menu. I hadn’t told anyone at the school it was my birthday so I figured it would be a low-key day. And for the most part it was however, I found the presence of individual’s more meaningful as they learned of my birthday and truly went out of their way to remember me.
One of the school’s servants was the first to say something and her simple words in extremely broken English were the most touching of the day’s. As I seem to always be creating trouble for the students, it is this servant that always scolds the girls, so I just assumed she didn’t think very highly of me. However, on Wednesday she stopped in her tracks and waited for me to walk pass before mustering up the courage to say, “Happy Birthday.” While this was early in the morning, my day had already been made by her simple wish. Later in the day I shared my birthday sweets with the teachers, as it is an Indian custom for the birthday person to supply their own sweets. For the past year, I have been reaping the benefits of this custom but was excited to finally be the person to not only decide what the sweets were but also have the excitement of passing out MY sweets…EXCEPT, my cake was moldy. This was horribly embarrassing and it put a little damper on the excitement- but like so many other things my only choice was to laugh! The icing on the (birthday) cake was when I mentioned to my Malayalam tutor that I always have strawberry cake on my birthday and although I wouldn’t be there to celebrate this year my parents, they were still going to have a cake in my honor. An hour after off-handedly saying this she had gone out and gotten strawberry biscuits and wrapped them in newspaper. Her simple gesture was so thoughtful but eternally meaningful. I couldn’t stop smiling! THEN I went to the dining hall to find that my supervisor’s has a surprise birthday feast for me. The cook normally prepares our food with occasional supplements from outside restaurants but this night my supervisor had gotten chicken tandoori, special bread, and tomato and onion salad- my favorites and such a treat. I had not expected it and it made the surprise that much better!! While I may not have gotten to “choose” my birthday dinner menu this year- it couldn’t have been chosen better for me. I had a great day and will always remember my 23rd birthday in India!!

A New School Year

Beginning June 6th the school year at Nicholson will officially begin. While I have been back at Nicholson for 10 days now, only 2 of the 7 grades have returned. Unlike our schools year, different grades begin the school year at different times depending on their exam schedule later in the year. Most schools open around June 1st with the first day being a time of registration and get to know the class teachers and school schedules. Although just 2 of the standards are currently here, the excitement of the girls re-energized me and made me excited to begin thinking about potential lesson plan ideas. While my time with the new students and teachers will be limited to just over a month, I am excited to think about how the time we spend together can be beneficial to each other!

I must admit I wasn’t sure that I would have the amount of energy I do about this school new year, especially after spending the month of May at an amazing organization. After returning from our month long trip around India, I spent the remainder of the summer at a place called Mandiram; an amazing community that is home to a hospital, old-age home for paying and non-paying residents and an orphanage. I was immediately welcomed into this family and couldn’t have been more happy to spend the remainder of the summer months with this organization. I was struck with the idea of partnership from the minute I stepped foot on their campus. It was obvious that my presence had the potential to add personality to this organization and that I could further learn about life in Kerala through the individuals working and living at Mandiram. My expectations were fully met as I instantly bonded with everyone! They were eager to get to know me and I was equally as eager to learn about their individual families and lives, leading to further reflection of my year. My days were spent visiting with individuals, playing with the girls in the orphanage, being present during morning devotions, serving at meals and helping to plan the weekly English bible studies. It most definitely helped that I was able to walk into this organization with a handle on Indian culture and feel very comfortable making conversation however, the strength of the organization also was prominent. While my time at Mandiram was short, I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend their and will always remember the individuals who helped to make the month of May a memorable one!

But with the help of the girls, my excitement and energy around being back at a school setting is high! I’m excited to continue building relationships with the returning teachers and am looking forward to forming relationships with the new teachers. I know this next month will go by fast but I look forward to each day and the joy and laughter to be had!

Snippets of my thoughts over the past 2 months

During the past 9 months I have kept a simple diary of the significant daily happenings in a year-long planner. I have never been a very sentimental person but when I left home last August, overwhelmed by the amount of time that stood between me and my return to family and friends, I thought this would not only serve as a helpful way to watch the days past but also provide a special souvenir (although I still think my MRI is the best souvenir I have, I mean how many Americans can say they have an MRI from INDIA?) So while I haven’t been great at keeping up with this blog, I hope this offers a little insight into my thoughts during the past several months.

-I took the pen out of many father’s hands today and placed it in the student's so she could write down the uniform needs and take may be a small act but one of empowerment nonetheless.
- Monsoon season where are you? I need you NOW this heat is melting me.
- I’m so thankful for my YAV-India family. Achen and his wife are extremely generous and go out of their way to make us feel at home during what could be lonely periods. And I couldn’t be luckier to have 2 amazing other volunteers experiencing this year alongside me!
- WahoOooOoo I met the fundraising goal!
-Got new glasses today and was able to skype my parents to show them!
-Madison and I ate a WHOLE jackfruit today, I hope we can do that again!
-Mathew Uncle’s perspective on life is so fascinating, he makes me think so much I often leave his room with a headache.
-Great bible study! I have never considered the Trinity to be a hierarchy but the conversation really forced me to articulate what I believe.
- Madison, you are so good at articulating just what I need to hear!!!
-I went to the new hospital ward inauguration only for tea but there wasn’t any. :/
-Is it better to fight this and say women are just as entitled to be near the altar as men or is this something I should just accept living in India?