Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Funky Buddha Cafe

This post comes to you from “The Funky Buddha CafĂ©” in Kathmandu, Nepal. After a journey to hell and back (literal not metaphorical), I have my new India Visa! I’m now off to do a week of Himalaya trekking in the Annapurna Sanctuary before making the 3-day trip back to Jaipur via bus/train, which is sure to be another adventure.

So, I’ve now been in India over 4 months. 2.5 of those months have been spent in Jaipur; I’m a quarter of the way through my volunteer term at NMS. The past month has seen lots of festivity here in the Pink City—10 days of Navaratri/Durga Puja/Dusshera celebrating the victory of Good over Evil, and now 6 days of Diwali—“Festival of Lights”. Which also means lots of days off from teaching—hence my extended stay in Nepal.

Some updates:

~I’ve completed my unit with grades IV and VI. After many ups and downs, I feel that we ended on a good note. I now move on to grades V and VII. I will continue to work with the grade VI Cambridge Honor students, which I greatly enjoy.

~I’m currently in the process of developing a syllabus for a grade 11 Capstone English class with the working title of “On Living, Dying, and Loving.” Yes, a pretty all-encompassing theme! The proposal was inspired by a great class I took senior year of high school, which was simply titled “Lifestyles” and dealt with the same themes. The Principal of NMS is very supportive and has pretty much given me free range to do what I want, which makes me very happy (see Einstein excerpt #2 from the previous post). I’m hoping to use 3 books, each dealing with one of the themes. The class will be largely discussion based with several reflection papers. I’ve already received some good suggestions for books, but would appreciate more. A few suggestions I’m considering: Tuesdays with Morrie, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, In Solitary Witness, Death in the Family, History of Love, The Secret of Staying in Love, A Fine Balance, Ashram Vows. I also plan to supplement the books with various excerpts and poems. There’s a plethora of Indian Folk Tales to choose from and I will, of course, include a section on Rumi. Please leave any suggestions in the comments section!

~Ballroom/Latin dance classes are in full swing with the Hostel students. I’m hoping to pick a group of the 12 best dancers (6 boys, 6 girls) and choreograph a Rueda routine for the end of the year function in December. I would also like to choreograph a piece for the Nischay girls. We shall see…

~I completed the “Volunteer in India” webpage for the SJU Men’s Center! See link on side panel. Or click here.

Ok, that’s it for this update. I’m off to enjoy some live jazz music tonight for the opening of the 6th annual Jazzmandu Festival—“The biggest Jazz party in the Himalayas.”

I leave you with a quote from Horace Mann—19th Century American Education Reformist and Humanitarian (also the namesake of my Elementary School):

"A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron."

For a more in depth reflection by H.Mann, click here.

(Dancing with the NMS girls)