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United They Stand by Jasmin Valladares

August 30, 2015

The first week on our rickshaw rides to the school site, it was obvious to see the hustle and bustle of the city.  Rickshaws, scooters, and motorcycles going in through any open spot to bypass the cars and get to their destination.   Not to mention the busses, walking pedestrians, beggars on the street, as well as the people living out in the street all played a part in the hustle of the normal day.  It was also obvious to notice the excessive garbage in the streets and the smell that mixed with the smell of petroleum.  In the first week I did see about two people on two different occasions sweeping trash around their store front.  But again you could see excess garbage on the street.  It was not until our professor accompanied us on our rickshaw that she was able to communicate with our rickshaw driver and discover that there was an excess of trash on the floor because the garbage workers had been on strike about a week before we got there.  This helped explain the excess garbage.

The garbage strike and then thinking about a newspaper article that my Didi had presented to her kids about a parent’s perspective and hopes for their children’s future got me to think of India as a community.  The article was about the hope of students to not only succeed academically, but to also be a good citizen to better the country of India.  The teacher scaffold the article with questions to help the students understand what was being read.  By the end of the discussion the students were brainstorming ways on how they could be better citizens to better India.  Some students stated that they should have women treated better and grant them safety so they do not have to be scared of walking out in the streets.  Others stated that they could avoid peeing in the streets.  Yet others stated that they could ensure their honesty and make sure they paid when they got on the city bus.  Their teacher reinforced this with asking them how many of them saw grown men peeing in the streets, or people riding the bus and not paying to get on because it was so crowded.  Ultimately she tied it back to small ways that will help contribute to making India a better place.
This discussion got me to ask a few students during their 10 minute break what they wanted to be in life and what they thought was needed. One girl stated she wanted to be a doctor to help the sick in her country and world.  Another stated she wanted to be a Didi to teach students.  But one that surprised me was the response of a little boy.  He stated he wanted to be an army soldier to fight the Palestinian people who are hunting the Telegu people and to save India.  The interesting part was when I asked them all what they needed to do to achieve their goals, they stated they needed an education and the one little boy also stated certain virtues like honesty.  I was surprised to see such young children familiar with important issues they face, this is not a normal trend seen in America. Granted it could be because American children have many distractions (TV, movies, electronics) and are in a sense “removed” from the political things occurring.  The one thing that stood out was that all three students all stated they wanted to better their India and help others.

Another example of unity that I saw was in the morning right after their prayers.  There was about 5 students who came in late and then their teacher asked which groups had all their members arrive to school on time because their group received 50 points as an incentive to encourage students to show up to school.  First, it was amazing to see the student’s honesty.   Secondly it was heartwarming to see how one little girl, who was late for a second day in a row, asked to speak to her Didi for a second.  I then noticed her begin to cry as she walked back to her seat.  The Didi then stated that she wanted to propose a choice to the group the little girl belonged in.  The Didi stated that the little girl wanted to be removed from the group because she was the reason her group was not earning the points because of her lateness.  The group immediately turned to her and shook their heads, while the two students near her patted her back.  The teacher then asked if you want to vote her out raise your hand.  Not one of the students raised their hand, but rather shook their head in disagreement.  Then she asked if you want to keep her in your group raise your hand.  They immediately all raised their hand.  The Didi then stated that if a problem arises the solution is not to quit, but to find a way to solve it.  She told the little girl to see how her peers did not want to remove her from the group and that all she had to do was try her best to get to class on time.  Again, I think of how my kids would have responded differently.  There is a 90% chance my students would have voted her out of the group because she was costing them their group points.

I began to think of how I would want to see the sense of a tight community in my classroom and began thinking of how I could frame it in my classroom.  I should also state that in our second week in India there were street cleaners out cleaning the street.  We asked our rickshaw driver if the strike was over and he said it was.  The workers would now work day and night to clean up the city.  The amazing part was seeing the difference in the city cleanliness within a day.  It was apparent that the workers sure did hustle to make their streets clean after the strike was over.

I want to think that the strike ending is a symbol of hope for these children I had the pleasure of meeting.  They can bring about the change that they wish and improve their country to better their lives.   But overall that they never lose that sense of community and the sense that they stay united to help one another.

Jasmin 2

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