Friday, March 13, 2009

The Final Post!

After a 5-month hiatus from the Blogosphere, I’m back with a final concluding post on my final day at NMS/Nischay.

I will now attempt to summarize the whole of my experiences, trials and tribulations, hopes and dreams, in one all-encompassing paragraph. Wait…that’s not going to be possible. So, here are the highlights of the last portion of my volunteer experience:

~Choreographed the Waltz scene in NMS’s musical production of Mamma Mia! Also, learned how to run the light board and gained a new appreciation for the “behind-the-scenes” people.

~Choreographed a Salsa routine for the Hostel kids that was performed in the Birla Auditorium. See video box at bottom of this post yes(and look out for my cameo at the end ☺ )

~Conducted a 1-month Latin dance workshop for grades 7 and 8.

~Conducted computer classes with the Nischay girls in the new computer lab donated by former volunteers Adam and Tina. I hope that future volunteers are able to continue this work.

~Developed a work-in-progress syllabus for the “Lifestyles” class I mentioned in the previous post and conducted a 3-week trial version with four sections of grade 11. Overall, it was a successful experiment and I received very positive feedback. I want to acknowledge the support of NMS yoga instructor, Sharu, who advised me along the way with her wealth of life-knowledge. It is our hope that a longer, more in depth Lifestyles class will be implemented in the near future. Possibly a project for future volunteers (hint, hint). With that in mind, I’m attaching the Syllabus I developed at the bottom of this post.

Finally, here are 3 recommendations for future volunteer teachers at NMS/Nischay:

1. Be Flexible. Anytime you engage a new culture, language, education system, a certain degree of flexibility is required. Be open-minded, willing to try new ways of teaching, and most importantly—learn from your successes and failures.

2. Be Prepared. Depending on the length of your stay, I recommend coming into the experience with a few projects/ lesson plans prepared. Some classes will require you to follow a set syllabus, but in other classes you’ll have a lot of freedom to teach what and how you want. Being well prepared will result in reduced stress and a more enriching experience—for you and the students.

3. Be Involved. There are many opportunities to be involved outside of the classroom. Get involved with Sport, Music, Dance and/or Art programs. I also strongly encourage all volunteers to be involved with Nischay Girls School—whether teaching English, Dance, Sports, or Computer—this is a truly rewarding experience. Also, be involved in the local Jaipur community. Attend events, make friends, explore.

So, that’s all I got! Hopefully this Blog proves useful to potential and future volunteers. I’m more than happy to answer questions/concerns, so please do not hesitate to contact me. All the best!

Lifestyles Syllabus

Lifestyles Class—11th Standard
Neerja Modi School
Mr. John Van Rooy

Purpose: To analyze, discuss, and reflect on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Themes: Success, Relationships, Life & Death

Week 1— On Success
What is your vision of a successful life? List the 5 most important qualities of a successful life.

Readings: Handout: “20 qualities for a successful life” by David Bohl
“Tuesdays w/Morrie” pg 124-26 (on Money)
“The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran Ch.6 (on Work)
“The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” pg 55-56 (on Passion)
“The Gift”—Hafiz (open to random page and read a poem)

Writing: 1pg reflection on your vision of a successful life.

Week 2— On Relationships

How do we form and maintain meaningful relationships? List the 5 most important qualities you look for in a relationship.

Readings: “Tuesdays w/Morrie”- pg 148-49 (on marriage)
“The Prophet” Ch.18—On Friendship
Handout: “On Better Relationships—7 Step Strategy”
“The Gift” (random poem)

Writing: 1pg reflection. Answer the following: Think of one relationship that you would like to improve—with a family member, friend, or teacher. Using the seven-step strategy for solving relationship problems, how might you go about improving this particular relationship?

Week 3— On Life & Death
“My religion is to live—and die—without regret” ~ Milarepa (Tibetan poet-saint).

Readings: “Tuesdays w/Morrie”-pg 81-83 (on death)
“The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” pg 8,15-16,18
“The Prophet” Ch.26—On Death
“The Gift” (random poem)

Writing: 1pg reflection on any of the following questions: Has anyone close to you—family or friend—passed away? Describe the experience—how did you deal with it? Are you afraid of death? Why or why not? What do you believe happens after a person dies? Should student’s study about death in school? Why or why not?

Appendix 1
Class Evaluation:
1. List 3 things you’ve learned in this class
2. What was the most interesting/valuable topic? Why?
3. Do you have any suggestions for improving this class?

Appendix 2
Reading Material:
Albom, Mitch. “Tuesdays with Morrie”
Gibran, Kahlil. “The Prophet”
Hafiz. “The Gift”
Rinpoche, Sogyal. “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”
Sharma, Robin. “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”
Handouts: “20 Qualities of a Successful Life”, “On Better Relationships”.

Appendix 3
Teacher’s Notes:
~Class should be expanded to 6-8 weeks.
~Additional Themes: Academic/Career Goals, Importance of Positive Self-Talk, Accountability, Love, Forgiveness, Spirituality, Meditation.
~Special Project: Have students design and implement a 1-week service project. Write reflection paper on experience and report back to class. Possible locations: Nischay, Hospital/Senior Citizens Homes, Environmental project. OR Students form groups and give a presentation to the class on a specific topic relating to the course.

NMS Salsa Performance


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