India 2013

India_Flag_Wave Miss Harper and Miss Breeze are going to visit one of our link schools, Bawa Lalvani, in India over the Easter holiday 2013. Whenever they get a chance, they will post some updates direct to this blog so we can see what they have been up to!

Please feel free to leave a comment on any of their posts!

India 2013 - Day Eight

Our final day in India has been another busy one. We were collected early from our hotel in the school minibus by one of the teachers. Almost whole school, Grades 5 to 10, were awaiting our arrival on the school field ready for a special assembly. The assembly formed part of their Baisakhi celebrations. There was lots of singing and dancing. The children even got us to join them on the stage for a Bhangra dance. Baisakhi is a festival celebrated across Northern India, especially in the Punjab region by the Sikh community. It is a time when crops are harvested and are gathered in and the farmers exult in the fulfillment of their year's hard work. There was lots of music and celebration!

We moved on to another assembly from the Kindergarten class. Different classes each performed songs with actions. The children looked so tiny but they performed in English confidently and had obviously spent a long time rehearshing. After the assembly we each read the children a story on the floor of the classroom. They listened really well and enjoyed hearing the stories.

Next we visited different classes in Grades 2 and 3. We observed different teachers and talked to different children about their work. We saw some classes use Interactive Whiteboards and looked through the different text books that the children follow and work in during their lessons. We also taught the children the song 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes'. They all enjoyed singing and especially loved joining in with the actions.

After some lunch at the school one of the teachers, Ms Devika Bhalla, invited us to visit her home. She made us some traditional Indian snacks and chatted to us about our visit. She made us feel very welcome and it was lovely to have the oppurtunity to visit her home and meet her family.

From Ms Bhalla's house, we made our way to another teacher's house, Ms Kainth, for dinner. Again she made us feel ver welsome and had prepared a delicious traditional Punjabi meal for us. We also had some time to discuss the differences in English and Indian culture and how we all feel that education is so very important.

We are now back at the hotel for one last night. We have to pack up our cases before bed as we begin our journey home in the morning with a 5:30am pick up to get to the airport in Amritsar for our flight to Delhi. So it's goodnight from India for the last time. We both have many memories, photos and videos that we can't wait to share with you all on our return!



India 2013 - Day Seven (penultimate day of activities!)

We had an especially early start this morning (so early that breakfast wasn't even ready to be served so we had to have a breakfast packed up to take with us on the bus!) and, although the day began fairly cool and cloudy again, the sun soon broke through and it turned out to be another blistering hot day!

The drive to Chandigarh took over three hours but it gave us a good opportunity to speak to the teachers who were accompanying us on the trip and see some more of the fascinating sights on and beside the roads here.

First we visited another school, Golden Bells Public School, in Mohali. We were greeted with a very warm welcome; bindis put on our foreheads, petals sprinkled at us and garlands placed around our necks. We met with the chairman of the school (Lt Col C S Bawa) who owns and runs the school wth the help of his wife (acting as principal) and his family. He gave us some food and then took us on a tour of the school.

This school was diffrent to the others which we have seen as it has some children who come from such a distance that they board there. We saw the living area where the children stay and found out that the children who board stay for the whole term before returning home and some of those who do this are as young as four years old!

Some children from the school gave us a short dance performance and teachers shared some kind words about their pleasure in hosting us at their school. We were very touched.

After this we moved on to the market at sector 22. Chandigarh is a very organised place which has been divided into sectors, each housing different facilities; schools, hospitals, markets etc. and we also noticed that the road discipline in Chandigarh is much better with people using lanes and following traffic signals!

Having looked around the market at all the suits, saris, shoes and jewellry for sale (and managing to resist any purchases, keeping our luggage restirctions in mind!) we moved on to the famous Rock Garden. This is a sculpture garden, also known as Nek Chand's Rock Garden after its founder Nek Chand, a government official who started the garden secretly in his spare time in 1957. The garden was created entirely from waste (crockery, electrical sockets, bracelets etc.) and is incredible to look around. We took a lot of pictures!

We then had lunch in the market area of sector 17. For lunch, we went to the fast food restaurant "Hot Millions" which is a famous brand in North India offering a whole range of foods from around the world. t was the original fast food restuarant here before the arrival of the chains we know such as; Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway and McDonald's. We both had a paneer burger to try and continue our indian dining!

On the way back to Jalandhar, we stopped at the Harappan ruins museum which archaeological display showing finds from thousands of years ago in India. It was inteersting to look at the coins, weapons and pottery from the anient civilisations here.

We are now back at the hotel and are organising ourselves (and our cases!) as we have a very busy final day ahead of us before leaving early on Friday morning. We have thoroughly enjoyed our few days of sight seeing but are very excited to be back at Bawa Lalvani for our last day and are looking forward to working alongside the staff and children again.


India 2013 - Day Five

Today we had an incredibly early start as we had a three hour road journey to Amritsar ahead of us!

The journey was interesting as there are always so many sights to see as you travel around the different parts of the region. It was a very hot day (possibly the hottest so far) and so it was tricky at times travelling so far in the school bus without the air conditioning that we are used to!

When we arrived in Amritsar, it was very busy. The streets were buzzing with people, all heading to The Golden Temple. The teachers who accompanied us explained that it would be especially busy as the festival of Baisakhi is happening soon (the festival which celebrates the first harvest) and so many people, particularly farmers, would want to travel to the temple.

The Golden Temple is an amazing sight and we really enjoyed looking at this special place which welcomes and serves the four key religions of India.

After visiting the temple and enjoying some lunch, we moved on to visit Jallianwala Bagh which is the site and memorial garden for the massacre which took place in the city in 1919. It was a fascinating place but was quite haunting to look around with original bullet marks from the time identified on the walls.

From Amritsar, we moved on to the Wagha Border which is where the borders of India and Pakistan meet. Here we watched the retreat ceremony which is performed every day and attended by many people from both countries. It was a great experience and it was fun to see the Indian people showing passionate patriotism through their chanting, dancing, singing and the ceremony itself which we thought could be compared to the changing of the guard which tourists often like to see in London.

After the busy (and hot) day, we were very tired. We were not finished yet though! One of the teachers of Bawa Lalvani (Ms. Jasmeen) had kindly invited us to her home to have dinner and meet her family so after our three hour return journey we arrived at the house welcomed by the whole family and two other members of staff from the school.

Dinner was fantastic! Indian hospitality is very important to them and it was a great experience to talk to the family (parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles ... all living in the same house) and to enjoy some authentic and traditional home cooked dishes. We felt very privileged to have been invited and it was interesting too to look around the large house which the family shared and notice some of the similarities and differences to our homes in England.

So, after a long day we are exhausted! It has been great though with many very special memories made from our visits and experiences. We are heading to bed now (it is after midnight and we have not been home long!) as we have another early start tomorrow with a visit to a different local school planned.

Day Four India 2013

Today is Sunday and children do not attend school on Sundays so we have had more of a relaxed day. We were collected after breakfast and taken to another Gurdwara in Jalandhar. A Gurdwara is the place where Sikhs come together for worship. We had to remove our shoes and cover our heads as a sign of respect. There were no no idols, statues, or religious pictures inside the Gurdwara, because Sikhs worship only God, and they regard God as having no physical form. We were given some Karah prasad that we had to take using cupped hands, it was very nice.  Prasad is a sweet vegetarian food made from butter, flour and sugar, that has been blessed.

After visiting by the Gurdwara we returned to our hotel for lunch. Ms Gill the principal of Bawa Lalvani collected us herself and drove us to another area of the city called Model Town. As it is Sunday the roads were much quieter than they usually are. She wanted us to try some Golgappe, an popular Indian snack, from a street stall. It consists of a round, hollow puri (Indian bread), fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas. We had to eat it in one mouthful. They were very unusual certainly unlike anything we'd eaten before!

We then walked around Model Town and it was lovely to talk to Ms Gill about life and education in Indian. Before heading back to the hotel we stopped for some dinner at McDonalds. We both had burgers but with an Indian twist -McSpicy Paneer burgers.

We are heading to bed early tonight as we are being collected at 6:30 to travel to Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple, something we are both very excited about.

Day Three of our India Adventure

Today has been busy again but a little more relaxed with plenty of time to chat to some of the teachers from Bawa Lalvani and learn more about their lives and culture.

We began the day at school (as the children have a half day in school on a Saturday here) and met two of the Grade 1 classes who performed some poems in English for us. They were very confident at speaking in fromt of visitors and their English was very good considering how young they are!

When they finished their performance, we read them English stories (Giraffes Can't Dance and Funny Bones) and got them to join in with some actions although they were a little bit reluctant at first as they are not used to sitting as a group on the floor with the teachers and do not often interact in lessons in the same way that we are used to at Whitehouse Common. In the end they became more confident and were really enjoying taking part. It was great fun and we really enjoyed working so closely with them.

After some light refreshments, we left the school to travel to the RCF (Railway Coach Factory) for a tour. The RCF is a government run site at which the coaches for the Indian trains are made, assembled and painted. We looked around the factory and saw some of the men working hard welding, beating metal, painting etc. which was very interesting. It was also fascinating to learn that the site is a community built around the factory with housing for the workers and their families, markets and shops, schools, parks, a hopsital and its own Gurdwara. We thought it was similar to the community that was built up many years ago in Bournville near the Cadbury factory with facilities provided for all who work there.

One of the teacher's who took us lives on the site as her husband is a technician at the factory so she could tell us a lot about it and show us around. We had lunch outside on the grass sitting on blankets and enjoyed chatting in the sunshine.

Later, we are off to Jalandhar Cantt (a nearby church) before going out for dinner and returning home for another well earned rest!

Be sure to take another look at the blog tomorrow to see the next chapter in this exciting trip...

Day Two India 2013

Today had been another action packed day! We were met early, after breakfast, at the hotel and driven to Bawa Lalvani. Again, we were greeted with a fabulous dance. The children performed a 'Bihu Dance' on the front lawn of the school using coloured ribbons.

Next we visited two different Grade 4 classes where we completed some activites with the children. First we asked class 4B to create their own game. Working in small groups they had to design an 'odd one out challenge' that they could then swap with another group to try to complete. Then we moved to clss 4C where we asked the children to create their own sentence. They had to write each word on a different piece of paper and then pass the pieces on to another group for them to try to correctly sort the sentence.

Both of the classes really enjoyed working in small groups as they often only work alone at their desks. They children really enjoyed creating activites for their class mates to complete.

We then moved upstairs to the Music Room where a different class came in to sing for us. They all sang 'Sing Hosanna' beautifully and then asked us to join in with them. After singing they asked us to sing and teach them a song. We both felt vey nervous!

The last part of the morning at school was spent outside on the school field. We joined in with three different PE lessons. Firstly we played a game called 'Dog and bone' with Grade 2, then 'Blind man's buff' with another Grade 2 class. Lastly we joined in with some older children playing a game of cricket. We were both very hot after running about in the midday heat.

After lunch, we travelled to a theme park called 'Wonderland' with some of the teachers. There were several rides and a water park. It was interesting to see what Indian ladies wear for swimming. If you want to see what Wonderland is like you can [click here] to visit the website.

On our way back at the hotel we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. We both had Paneer Tikka with rice and naan. Paneer is a type of fresh cheese made using curd that is popular in South Asian cuisine.

We are are looking forward to another busy day in school tomorrow!



Day one in Incredible India

Wow, what a first day we have had! We have been really busy but have had a great time.

After a very long journey to get here, a couple of flight delays and a lot of sleeping (and eating!) on planes, we finally arrived in India. It is very hot here but the sunshine is a welcome change from the snow back in England!

We travelled 3 hours by minibus (on the infamous roads of India) from Amritsar to our hotel in Jalandhar and got straight to bed for a good sleep in preparation for today.

We were met this morning at 9am and taken to Bawa Lalvani where we were greeted by a welcome committee of staff and children which was fabulous. On our way into the school, we visited the school Gurudwara where a group of children sang a prayer for us which was very special and quite emotional.

Another group of students performed a dance for us to Gangnam Style (and then asked us to join in!) and we were then taught how to tie a sari and each of us was dressed in one for part of the morning.

We met a number of pupils at the school today and spent some time in their lessons. Most of our time was spent with Grade 5 pupils in Maths and General Knowledge lessons and it was interesting to observe and discuss teaching methods and talk to the children.

After lunch, we went into the town and did some shopping with some of the teachers. We also had Mendhi patterns put onto our hands which look very beautiful!

We had dinner in a very nice restaurant and ate some local dishes...they were delicious!

We are ready for bed again now as we have another busy day ahead tomorrow.

Our cameras and video cameras have been working over time and we have a lot of pictures and film which we would like to share but, at the moment, the website will still not allow us to upload anything. If we can get some pictures on here before we come home then we will be sure to do so otherwise it will be something for you all to look forward to once we are back in school ...

Bye for now, more news to follow tomorrow :-)

Miss Harper and Miss Breeze

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