Thursday, August 1, 2013


Welcome to my blog. Please follow me and my adventures as I prepare for my travel to India with Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC). TGC is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, and implemented by IREX.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Taj Mahal (7/14/12)

How many pictures have you seen of the “Taj” (as people here call it)? Sometimes disappointment creeps in after a build up of anticipation…is it really going to be that big, majestic, and beautiful? The answer for me was ABSOLUTELY! The shear size of palace with the inlaid semi-precious stones in the white gargantuan marble was breath taking. What did surprise me was the lack of foreigners. I saw a few Europeans, but no Americans. Several Indian tourists asked my colleagues and me if we would pose in a picture with them. It was an unexpected surprise to witness the Indians in as much awe with us and we were with them. I suppose curiosity is universal. 
Young and handsome engineering students even asked me for a photo!
What an honor to pose for a picture with these beautiful women and children!

Camels, Monkeys and Internet Cafes

Hmmm, shouldI take a camel or auto-rickshaw to work?
I would love to do a study on the modes of transportation in India. I’m sitting in an air-conditioned private bus and along side me is an ox pulling a wooden cart with passengers. Just a few minutes ago I saw a camel, which was along side several motorcycles, a very crowed bus, and a car. It seems that any thing that moves is a viable mode of transportation on the highway! The horn is a must, when passing or trying to pass all motorized drivers use their horn. I have only traveled by motorized rickshaw, car, and private bus. Sigh… I feel I’m missing out on the funJ

School Visits in Pune 7/5-7/12

You can tell I’ve been extremely busy by the lack of postings on my blog! Days at my host school started around 7:30 a.m. or earlier and end about midnight. My host teacher is determined to show me everything she possibly can in the 7 days I am with her in Pune. Since I cam paired with a science teacher from NC, we are seeing many high school science and English classes as well as making school visits to pre-schools, public schools (called government schools here), non-aided private schools (they don’t receive any gov’t funds), aided private schools (they receive some gov’t funds), slum schools, schools teaching only in English and schools teaching in the state language of Mathari. In general, the classrooms are much smaller than American classrooms, have no air-conditioning, whiteboards or computers. Needless to say, the physical conditions are challenging and I haven’t even mentioned the 60 students sitting side by side in close rows!  The students are quite adept at dealing with the heat, close quarters and noise level. I find it very difficult to hear what the teachers are saying and to hear the students’ questions because of the background racket. The constant sound of students in a nearby class reciting material out loud, children at recess, and car horns honking were extremely distracting for me. I asked a teacher if that was an issue for the students and she said, “No, the children are use to it.” Guess I will get use to it too.
A kindergarten class in a private school.

Students in my host teacher's science classroom.

I wonder how the students take tests without noticing their close neighbor's answers!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Traditional Welcome Day 5 (7/6/12)

This dance in only preformed by females.
How do you capture in words the feeling of awe? If you picture beautiful children greeting you with a thousand year old ritual you're getting close. Pictured is a traditional Maharashstra dance called Lezim being preformed to honor my arrival by students from Abhinava High School.

What an aerobic event!

No Freedom Day 4 (7/5/12)

Riding to the airport this morning I had a lengthy conversation with the taxi driver who by the way, he taught himself English. After some chit chat, he said, “Women in India have no freedom (or no rights).” [Sorry can’t remember which.] The driver went on to say his sister’s marriage was going to be arranged, I’m guessing soon, since she was 25 years old. His family would have to pay for the wedding, clothes for his sister, clothes for the groom, and a dowry of approximately $5,000. Next she would move into her husband’s house whereby it would be up to him if she could work outside the house or not. Good grief, this sounds just like the nonfiction book May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons, by Elisabeth Bumiller. The author collected data from interviews she conducted with women in India in the mid-80’s. The driver went on to say dowry is an Indian’s biggest problem.

Flight to Pune. Met Charu Mathur, my host teacher, who greeted us at the airport along with the school principal and 2 or 3 other teachers. Since many schools work in two shifts, I’m guessing the teachers had completed their teaching duties for the day…or not. We checked into our hotel, and then proceeded to Charu’s house. Tea was served and we immediately started working. Charu received funding to start an International Space Science Club and the formal inauguration would be on Saturday. My travel partner, Abeyeo Abraha, a science teacher from NC, suggested having a pre- and post-test to measure student learning. I contributed the idea of using a Likert Scale and we began creating the pre-test. Science rocks!
The kitchen table seems to be a common work place worldwide:)

Friday, July 6, 2012

School Visits Day 3 (7/4/12)

      Visited two schools today. The first school we went to Blossom Public School. Don’t let the name fool you. It was really an affordable private school in a Muslim neighborhood. I could write pages about that experience: eye opening, eager children, NOISEY, young teachers, deja’vu  of my Peace Corps experience, are just a few descriptors that come to mind. Someone in my group called it a teacher’s nightmare. I think the tiny, about 10’ x 25’ space had 30 students all sitting shoulder to shoulder. In the afternoon we visited a government higher primary school, which really was a public school. Everyone in the group agreed the government school seemed better in terms of providing a safer, warmer and more up to date teaching environment.
     Dinner at a tandoor restaurant.
There was no space for me in the classroom in this private school in Bangalore.