School visit

Something I’ve noticed during my time here in India so far, specifically in the school for the blind and the deaf and the government school, is the tremendous joy and happiness that the Children showed. For example at the School for the blind and deaf. When first introducing myself tp the deaf children I tried my best to do so through sign-language; despite clearly not being very good at the sign, they never showed any signs of frustration or impatience towards me. They simply smiled from ear to ear and continued to try and get to know me through other methods like writing on paper or lip reading.

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A piece of the elephant

The thing about this trip to Chennai that makes it so difficult on me emotionally is the feeling of helplessness I get when I see young children. There was one particular boy I was visiting that seemed so much like me when I was his age, he was vibrant, attentive, and even a bit mischievous. As I looked at this boy and watched him interact with his classmates and as I got to know him better in my brief stint in the classroom I couldn’t help but feel sad. Here I was watching a younger version of myself

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Happiness is an inherent human condition

Thus far in India, I have encountered so much happiness. I’ve seen countless genuine smiles in these past four days and I find myself smiling constantly. At the St. Louis School for the Deaf and Blind, all of the students I met seemed overjoyed. The blind boys glowed when I shook their hand and introduced myself, while the deaf boys smiled incessantly while we played basketball. There was no frustration, no anger stemming from their disability, only smiles and happiness. The students of the government school also radiated genuine happiness. Both in the classroom singing their alphabet songs, or outside playing various games with the basketball, they smiled and giggled and jumped for joy. 

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Building Friendships

One of the things I was most looking forward to about this trip was getting the opportunity to work with young school children and inspire them. In the end they needed no inspiration at all as they were already energetic and bright kids. I observed that these children, whether at the St. Louis school for the blind and deaf or at the Teacher for India schools, never complain and are always excited and ready to learn. They were like sponges ready to observe and take in anything that we said. The minute we stepped into the classroom you could feel the energy and the excitement these kids contained within them

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Wild Ride

Driving through the streets of India triggers some slight similarities to driving around Times Square in New York City. While sitting in a van traveling to and from various places, all there is to do is to take in the scenery as we drive throughout Chennai. As I sat in the van; which the little air conditioning provided some shelter against the boiling heat outside, I would see shops line most of the streets, their awnings brights colors which grab you're attention.

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Determination and Opportunity

At the first government/TFI school I visited in India I was taken aback by how little these schools have. I walk in the classroom and the first thing I notice was that the kids were without desks. They would simply sit on the floor, which was wet from the season’s rain, with their books in the lap ready to learn. Ever since my first day of pre-school there was always desks and chairs available for each student in every classroom.

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A Grateful Thanksgiving

Visiting a government school in Chennai was and inspirational, educational, and humbling experience. Upon leaving the bus, we were welcomed by teachers who led us into different classes. The children were a bit shy at first, but once we began the basketball drills, the atmosphere became lively, and energy was infectious. After we went inside, it was time for class.

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Learning for a Reason

Being at the government school this morning I recognized a pattern of passion and determination. The teacher of our classroom was unbelievable with the children. From the moment she stepped into the classroom she had each student’s respect and attention. She was caring and encouraging while still engaging in the lesson and teaching. You could see her passion not only for teaching, but also for trying to improve the lives of these young Indian children.

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Different types of care

As I arrived at the HIV Hospital in Chennai, there were many things that stood out to me. None of such things struck me more than the compassion of the people working at the institution. Not only were the people at this hospital providing healthcare but also psychological and economic care, which are things they are not necessarily obligated to provide. 

One specific instance stands out in my mind ...

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The Smiles Never Left

Upon arriving at the Saint John Institute for the Deaf and the Blind, we stepped into a large, dark room, which lacked electricity because of recent power outages in the error. Stepping around, the team opened all the windows ringing the walls and paired with that light came a stream of smiling faces. They approached all of us immediately with eager faces. Signaling to us, we tried to convey the rough letters of sign language we had just learned before eventually resorting to writing on scrap paper. We talked about different sports and they asked us our ages and where we were from.

While some worked with the deaf, other players formed small circles with the blind. 

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St. Louis School for the Blind

Visiting the St. Louis school for the blind and the deaf was the most moving, educational, and amazing experience of my life. Upon entering the school, we met father Thomas. He individually shook all twelve of our hands and led us to where we'd meet the kids. Ram, a volunteer at the school,  taught us the sign language alphabet to begin. At first everyone was a bit shy, ...

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