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Day 4 - Chennai

Chennai Travel Blog

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5th grade class, Padma is the lady farthest back

Today I was on a mission: to find an elementary school.

I looked up a few different schools in the surrounding area and wrote down the name and address of the closest one. I showed it to a rickshaw driver and he said his price so I hopped in assuming he knew where it was. After him stopping a few times on the rode to ask people I got the impression that he didnt. So we drove around like a chicken with our head cut off ofr about an hour, good thing was he never asked for a higher price. He wanted to know if he should wait but I told him to go not really knowing what I was walking into.

When walking into the Sishya Primary School a few women came out that I could tell were teachers and I explained to them that I was a teacher from America and that I wanted to know if I could see their school.

They had me sit while they went and talked to someone and while I was sitting I started to think about how if they wouldnt let me, I just told the driver to leave and I was about a mile away from the closest main street. Luckily they came down and said the principal wanted to see me (probably not the first time I've heard that) so I followed them upstairs. The school was three floors, the bottom was for kindergarten, the 1st floor was for 1st and 2nd graders, the 2nd floor was 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The building was set up to have windows on each corner of the building that were just open to the outside, crows kept flying in and sitting on things. Everytime I walked through the classroom, the whole class would stand up and say "nomistay." Everyone was very intrigued to see me, I felt bad because I was more of a distraction than anything.
taken by a student

The principal was also the 5th grade teacher and her name was Padma, or "Madam" to the students. I was led into her classroom, which was the only one with a door and it was packed with students. There were 31 students in a very small class, they all sat on benches with three at a table. It was a very standard classroom, the chalkboard up front and the desks. Padma was very nice and she introduced me to her class, letting me tell them where I was from and a little bit about me. The students were just so excited that I was there they could barely control themselves. Some were trying to impress me by being the perfect student and others could barely contain themselves just jumping up and blurting out things. Their English was fair, they were really excited to show me what English they DID know though.

taken by a student
At first, almost everything I said, they would repeat back to me, which for them is normal because that is how they are taught. Then we had a little questionaire for me, how many sisters do I have, what state, etc. Once again I felt like a distraction from her teaching so I asked her if she could keep teaching so I could see. She showed me their text book and I made the mistake of saying that I teach my student's a lot of the same things. After saying that her eyes lit up and she asked me to teach them. A little caught off guard I looked at her text book and they were discussing verbs, nouns, pronouns, etc. so I asked her to give me a minute to look it over. Then for the next two hours... well I taught English to a fifth grade class in Chennai, India.
Awesome photo taken by a student
This was an experience, the classroom is set up with a row of benches on each side, and the closer up you are, the smarter you are. So when I was walking around the class and being goofy, they were a little confused at first. The students were just so excited I was there they had a little trouble following the class rules at first. Luckily, I found out that some of my teacher faces are universal and they did great, which I'm glad one because Padma left me by myself for awhile and when she came back she and about five other women were video taping and taking pictures of me. After about two hours I noticed it was noon so I asked Padma when they eat and luckily I asked because she said it was time but would have probably let me keep going.

Lunch was really fun, Padma invited me to stay and eat with her and a few teachers.

4th grade class
I would have never guessed that I would be eating lunch in the principals office in Inda, that's for sure. The students stayed in the room and ate. Padma lived in the building connected to the school and she was actually the founder of the school! Lunch was awesome, Padma's maid made us lunch and there is nothing more better than authentic Indian food. During lunch we just swapped questions back and forth about our countries and families. I found out that Sishya, the name of the school means "student" in India's first language. All the other teachers came in as well to meet me and give me a serving of their homemade food. I didnt complain, I tried all of them...

After lunch I felt that I better get going so they can get back to learning but wanted to stop up in the classrooms again to snap a few photos.

2nd grade class
While taking pictures of the 5th graders, I could tell they were really fascinated by my camera, so Padma let me do a little mini-lesson on my camera. I taught them how to use it, how to zoom in, zoom out, just the basic things. Then I let them all snap a few photos and this was hilarious. They had a hard time learning that when somone takes your photo, you dont have to be right up next to the lense.

When leaving the school I needed to catch a rickshaw so I walked down the street and the first one that I stopped turned me down. Then the second and third turned me down. I learned that I was in a different town and drivers didnt really leave their town. I was starting to worry but after a few more drivers I found one and got back to the hotel a little before Erin.

1st grade class

Erin was a little exhausted from shopping at Spencer's Plaza the other day, the mall where people just mawl you trying to get you to buy their stuff, so we decided to go to a nice mall where they dont do that. Suprisingly, Erin rode in a rickshaw with a fight, I'm just so proud of her! We shopped for an hour or so, bought Erin some clothes decided to have dinner and end the night. Today was a good day, hope there's more like this to come!

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5th grade class, Padma is the lady…
5th grade class, Padma is the lad…
taken by a student
taken by a student
taken by a student
taken by a student
Awesome photo taken by a student
Awesome photo taken by a student
4th grade class
4th grade class
2nd grade class
2nd grade class
1st grade class
1st grade class
Padma in front of her school. Sish…
Padma in front of her school. Sis…
Chennai
photo by: Marusya