|Extend the World|
While I was in Delhi, we saw lots of monkeys! But these monkeys are causing problems in the city. The dilemma, though, is that in Hinduism the monkey is a sacred animal and should not be killed. NPR just reported on this problem and what Delhi officials are doing to take care of this problem...take a listen (it's less than 4 minutes long).
After 18 days in India, I definitely cannot claim to know everything about India, but I have learned so much about myself and this wonderful country. Some of the highlights:
The hardest part about the trip was seeing the poverty and the stray dogs. The streets are scattered with homelessness: 6 month old babies sleeping on cardboard next to their mothers, a mom and dad with their three children sleeping on the sidewalk so the pedestrians have to step over their feet to walk, a little 7 year old boy sleeping in an ancient ruin who wakes up while we are touring the old city and carefully rolls up the poster he was using for his mattress, or the single women begging for food at the intersection. Dogs were littered all over the city and the countryside: old, young, puppies. All trying to find some shade and water. It breaks my heart, but it reminds me that I always need to keep giving back as a priority in my life. I am so incredibly blessed and it is my responsibility to bless others who are less fortunate.
As I wrap up my final blog post, I think my experiences can be summed up with the phrase: Unity in Diversity. India is a country of contradictions, diversity, and differences but the people are all unified as Indians. The Indians are an exceptionally friendly group of people who accept all people, no matter their religion, appearance, language, or culture. I was continually amazed by this character trait. Hindus valued and respected Muslims, Muslims valued and respected Sikhs, etc. etc. I hope the U.S.A. can become a country that is more unified in spite of our differences than segregated or hateful. I think this will become a goal I have in my teaching: to help students value differences and recognize how differences can be a unifying factor in our national identity.
When traveling to India, you must visit the Taj Mahal. Pictures do not do it justice. The Taj Mahal is in the city of Agra, which was founded over 2000 years ago and at one point was the capital of India. The story of how the Taj Mahal came to be is quite romantic:
Emperor Shah Jahan had three wives, but his third was his favorite. Her name was Mumtaz Mahal. Mamtaz died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. On her death bed, Shah Jahan promised her any last wish. She made Shah Jahan promise that he would never have children with anyone else and that he would care for her children. Shah Jahan followed through on his promise, but was so distraught that he decided to construct the most beautiful building the world had ever seen to enshrine his wife.
It took 8 years to complete the structure and during this time the people were unhappy that they were paying high taxes for such a building where the construction seemed to be never ending. Not long after this Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb, and imprisoned in Agra Fort where he spent the rest of his days.
Below are pictures of my trip. Unfortunately I could not take pictures inside the Taj; since the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum taking pictures inside the building would be disrespectful. When you enter the main room of the Taj Mumtaz's, Shah Jahan's third wife, grave marker is in the center of the room. Her husband, Emperor Shah Jahan is the left of her grave and elevated. His marker is elevated because when he died the designers were unsure how to show that he was the Emperor and the marker in the center was "just" the wife. So they decided since Jahan could not be in the center of the room, he should at least have a higher grave marker. Both bodies are buried, but their markers show where the bodies lay. This area is then encircled with intricate marble working that resembles vines and flowers and works as a barrier or fence to keep people a foot or so away from the graves.
When you first see the Taj from the gateway, it looks like it is floating since it sits a bit on a hill. The four pillars that are on each side of the Taj are leaning slightly away from the Taj, so if they fall they will not ruin the structure.
The Indian marble that was used for building the Taj Mahal is very special because it is not porous so doesn’t stain and light is able to go through the stone. The Taj also has precious stones within the walls, so at sunrise (the time I saw the Taj) you can see the gems glistening in the sun.
Mahatma Gandhi spent his last 144 days in Delhi. His purpose for traveling from Kalkutta to Delhi was to help foster peace between the Hindus and Muslims in the city and country. The place where Gandhi stayed is called Gandhi Smirti (smirti meaning memorial). This space is a small house surrounded by beautiful gardens. To the left is a picture of Gandhi’s bedroom and the space where Gandhi received visitors. You can see Gandhi’s walking stick in the receiving room leaning against the farthest wall.
On January 30, 1948, Gandhi’s schedule included prayer and breakfast along with meeting with visitors. In the late afternoon, he walked to the prayer area outside the house. It was at this point that the assassin shoved Gandhi’s advisor out of the way and killed him by shooting three bullets into his chest and abdomen. The last words Gandhi said were “Hey Ram” meaning “O God”.
The nation declared the mourning days afterwards time for fasting and prayer and leaders from around the world came to pay their respects.
Below are pictures of the final walk Gandhi took, the prayer area where he was killed, and the peace gong that has been set up to remind all people of Gandhi’s mission of peace and unity.
Indian food is flavorful and spicy; it's also a vegetarian's dream! Scroll through my pictures and read the captions to see some of the food I ate while traveling around India!
Left: A traditional breakfast including dosa (an Indian pancake) and vada (a savory donut).
Types of Schools: As a student you have several options in Delhi depending on what you want.
Grade Levels: Students attend school from Kindergarten to 10th grade. After 10th grade students can continue on at the high school in grades 10 +1 and 10 + 2. When the kindergarteners enter the school (most schools are kindergarten to 10+2) they have a welcoming ceremony (the top row of pictures) and graduation is very similar to that in the U.S. (the bottom row of pictures).
Why no passing periods? Because since there are about 40-50 students per class, the students stay in one classroom and the teachers are the ones that move. There are also no bells since the teachers move. The teacher teaches for 35 minutes and then moves to the next class.
All students in Morning Session are finished by 12:30 and all Afternoon Session students attend school from 12:30-6:00pm. What session would you like to attend?
Bathrooms: Students are not allowed to leave the classroom for any reason during class time. They may go to the bathroom during lunch or before/after school. Here is what the girls' bathroom looks like:
Technology available: All schools have several computer labs (mostly air conditioned!) with enough working computers for each student in the class (50 per lab). Teachers have access to white boards in most classrooms and LCD projectors in certain classrooms (depending on the particular KV school). At the Katha School, which is a public school, there was a robotics lab!
Hi! My name is Janna Nobleza and I'm a high school English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. This blog records my TGC India preparation, journey, and reflections.