I love to give not because I have much, but because I know how it feels to have nothing.
When we talk about giving, is it best to give money, material possessions, service, love or a combination? Do we determine what to give based on what we (the givers) determine as need? If one feels they have nothing, could this be in reference to physical objects like food, clothing, money, or a new car? Could it be in reference to more abstract concepts like love, friendship, or loyalty? Do we give based on our personal feelings of what was missing (or is missing) in our lives? Do we give for intrinsic or extrinsic reasons?
According to Global Volunteers, we are not to give gifts of money or material possessions directly to host-country nationals. We are to give these physical items to the host-country manager or directly to Global Volunteers to be able to disperse to host-country nationals as they deem necessary. Global Volunteers adheres to a mission of service around the world through individuals who want to volunteer. We, the volunteers, can generously give our love, time, and labor. Through this service, the idea is to help others help themselves long-term. During our orientation, we shared our reasons for volunteering. I believe, however, that some reasons are deeper in our hearts and souls than what we cared to share.
No matter how, why, or what you give, it seems it is most important to be aware of others rather than to be solely, and completely, self-absorbed with ourselves. This day was full of so much giving. Linda, Lisa, and Devra brought treats and clothes to share with Indian people. A large bag of goodies was brought to the church during the 3rd activity. Lisa and Linda brought snacks back from the grocery store to help with the munchies. Roni and Sheba cooked delicious meals for us to enjoy. Barnabas kept the house in order. The air-conditioner maintenance man came by. He got one air-conditioner working before he fell from the roof. We hope he’s ok and can come back tomorrow. Stephen kindly and happily drove us around to our schools, dodging cows (and stopping to let us take a picture), people, and other vehicles. He also taught us about Indian culture. And, of course, we can’t forget about the kind smiles, helpful glances of understanding across the room, and a joke or two to lighten up the mood.
Where so much goodness comes together, you can’t help but feel this powerful energy of gratitude and love.
All of our service projects focus on teaching English. The 4th-grade lessons for today focused on nouns and verbs. Perhaps that’s why I’m thinking about the parts of speech for the word “volunteer.” This word is a noun, a verb, and an adjective. We, clearly, are all people who perform a service willingly without pay. As “verbs” I see the “doing” in all of the eyes and hands and hearts of the volunteers. Everyone jumps to action when there is a need--even with jet lag, walking in flip-flops in the pouring rain, or while sweating so profusely the sweat is dripping on desks. Mostly, though, I believe we are the “adjective.” Our nature is to offer ourselves in service to others. We are volunteer teachers, volunteer nurses, and volunteer caregivers--every day, not just during this two week period in India.
Today our group of five was divided into two groups. One group went to PRS School. The other group went to Christ King School. Stephen brought group 1 to their school while group 2 planned their lesson. Then Stephen returned and brought group 2 to their school. After dropping off group 2, he returned to group 1 to bring them back to the guest house. At 12:30, he picked up group 2 and brought them back to the guest house.
Group 1 went to Christ King School. Since I was not there, Lisa James, another volunteer wrote about their experience. I include it in my blog because I want to remember what they did.
Today we (Linda, Lisa, and Sheba) visited PRS School in Chennai. We first met with the principal and was first sent to the Kindergarten class. The class had 1 teacher and 18 students (9 boys and 9 girls) and very little supplies.
First, we introduced ourselves and then the children did the same. We recited the numbers 1-10 with the children, and then the teacher modeled how she teaches math/numbers. We said Goodbye and went to the pre-k class.
The pre-k class had a substitute teacher who is the 9th grade teacher at the school. Her class was being tested today and she was free to sub. The classroom was more of a daycare setting. The kids are allowed to eat from their snack bag at any time and play with the very limited toys available. Normally they would have a more structured day, but today it was just a free-for-all.
We put out the rug, and some of us sat in a circle and sang some songs. We then gave out coloring pages and markers and talked about colors when the opportunity arose. We basically played with small groups or individuals at times and just went with the flow. The day ends at noon for the kids, and then we left.
Group 2 went to Christ King School
Today we (Devra, Greta, and I) visited Christ King School. We first met with the Principal who offered us coconut cookies and orange soda. Before we walked into his office we were prompted to remove our shoes. We learned how many students attend Christ King and about the Principal and his family. Interestingly, the Principal works as a lawyer on his off time. After our brief orientation, he escorted us to the 5th-grade classroom. The students were kind and very interested in what we were going to do. First, we introduced ourselves. Then, we taught students how to sing, “If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands.” After that, we had students ask each other their names. To do this, we had students toss a “snowball”(balled up paper) to each other. When they received the snowball, they said, “My name is____.” When they threw the snowball, they asked, “What is your name?” After this activity, we had students write the date in English in their notebooks and the words they learned. For 4th grade, we did a similar lesson; however, we needed to cover more information. We began to talk about the difference between a noun and a verb. The 4th-grade classroom was so hot we were dripping sweat by the end of the hour. Before we left each classroom, we sang the first verse of our song, and we reminded them that we would be back tomorrow.
After our time in the schools, we headed back to the guesthouse to eat. It was wonderful reuniting after our two school visits to hear the different experiences.
Lunch ended, and we had about an hour to work on our lessons for tomorrow. We were also waiting for a group of college students to arrive. We took advantage of the time to learn how to use Google Drive and a shared folder for pictures, the journal entries, and our daily quotes. Everyone has a Smartphone, so we got the app set up and made sure everyone knew how to upload photos. It was fun to see how the integration of technology makes lives easier--even in India.
Finally, six students arrived with their professor. The students are studying hospitality and need English to be successful. After an introduction by Linda, we all paired up with a student. Linda had two students. Since our goal was to help them with English for their professions, we all had conversations around houses keeping, front-desk work, and being a chef. For the entire week, we are going to stay with the same student. Next week we are going to rotate so students can hear different accents.
When the students left, we had a couple of minutes to breathe and get some caffeine. There is a lot of talking and energy to try to get students to talk. This volunteer service would be extremely difficult for an introvert.
The following was also written by Lisa James since I did not go to the church.
For the evening (3rd session) Lisa and Linda went to a church to work with any child from the village that showed up for English practice. They worked with 4 boys, 3 in 5th grade and I in 4th grade. We played 2 visual games and asked and answered questions.
Greta, Devra, and I worked with Stephen’s kids and nephew tutoring them in English.
After dinner, we sat around and Stephen explained the history of Gandhi. Lisa and Linda took a break after they washed the dishes (thanks, ladies!) to go to the supermarket. They brought back tons of yummy snacks like Yumfills, Mom’s Magic, and Good Day cookies (thanks, ladies!). Stephen went home to his family, and the five of us sat in the common area, talked, and ate lots of yummy goodness.