Back home at Vidya Vanam!

Yesterday morning we arrived safe and sound back to our home for the year!

We got settled, cleaned out our room and found a few unexpected gifts of mice droppings and dead cockroaches! These were all cleaned upand the room was disinfected and tidied, well Caitlin was tidy my side was still seriously messy but just slightly better. Anyway that took up the majority of the time until we got a chance to chat with the other staff at lunch all about their exciting training trip to Ghandiji’s school in Wharda. Then in the afternoon we helped out with some of the kids and put up decorations for todays exciting celebrations for Ghandiji’s birthday!

Today I helped out in Peepal class reading stories and singing nursery rhymes-I know what you’re thinking, me singing?! But Baa Baa Blacksheep is hard to get wrong. Then we went to the big hall to watch all the dancing and stories and songs the kids had prepared for their parents and the special guests. After that we headed over to the first complete classroom of the new building block to look at the kids beautiful artwork, I’ll put up more photos when Dad posts me out the correct cable! It would have been amazing for UK standards let alone Indian, so proud to be teaching in this school.

We had a half day which we filled with a long and ardurous teachers meeting which switched between tamil and english, so we were never quite sure what was going on!

This evening we spoke to Patti, (which means Grandmother in Tamil) she is the Director of the school, basically the boss! I think she’s fantastic, such a hilarious character and so welcoming and kind. We were discussing what work we’ll be doing for the rest of the year and gave her a few gifts from home to say thank you for having us! We were so happy to hear that she wanted us to teach English to the young classes, as initially when we arrived, we thought this would not be the case.  I’ll happily be able to use all the stickers and flashcards I brought with me! Alongside that, we’ve still got the mighty position of ultimate control over the library, we’re supposed to decorate all the younger classes and believe it or not I’m going to be helping out in science! I mentioned that I did science and was immediately given the job of helping in Ayshweria’s classes, who told us she much preferred science to children and would rather be a scientist than a teacher. I’m glad I’ll be helping out there, as I think my enthusiasm will be appreciated! What’s more in the morning, there are children here from 7.45am with classes not starting til 9am and Caitlin and I will be running informal English conversation classes with the older kids during this time. Patti also mentioned that we MUST teach the children ceilidh dancing and play the music and she will buy them all kilts for the next Annual Day (in Feb) so they can show it off for the parents and special guests!

This chat with Patti has made me even more excited for my time here and so glad I’m back to Vidya Vanam, I truly do love it here and know I’ll have a wonderful year.



1st Week Here-By Nuala

Hello everyone, great to see Dad has been keeping you informed.

India is crazy, a complete explosion of the senses. It is exactly what you see on the TV, but it is in fact real. I am constantly covered in dust and dirt and there is creepy crawlies everywhere. Cockroaches roam about our room at night as they  come in through the ventilation gap and there is lizards which share our showers (cold water and a jug) with us. We have unpacked and I have stuck millions of photos on the walls.

The food has been amazing, nothing like curry in the UK. We eat with our fingers, but only our right hand as the left hand is toilet hand. Tonight for dinner we had Chappati, Aubergine and veg curry, Onion Pakora and curd. The American vol Sarah, who is here for most of the year also, has advised us that eating bread instead of rice will stop us gaining a bloated rice tummy. The rice here is very bland anyways and I much prefer the bread.

The school and village are amazing. So surreal. The families in the village are all of the lowest caste, which is split into tribal and non tribal untouchables, apart from a teeny minority who are still so low they are called the ‘backward’ class. It is bizarre how important caste and religion and money are, it is even embedded in the minds of the youngest children. They constantly ask how much things we wear are and love to touch you.

The staff here are wonderful, they have some really innovative opinions, especially for India. The two main ladies who work here and have started the school are Brahmins, the highest caste, and they try to disintegrate the idea of caste, they have also both had love marriages, which is almost unheard of. When we are walking in the city we get called ‘Madam, Madam’ as we are white, western and seen to be really wealthy. It is frustrating, as the Indians we are with get completely ignored. Being given special treatment is not so enjoyable when you know it is only due to the colour of your skin.

There have been a few issues with our project initially. It is a new project so there has been lots of misunderstandings, but it is nobody’s fault. So we shall be heading back to Hyderabad briefly. This is not a problem though.

Overall I’m loving my time here and I know I’ll have a fantastic year, I cannot believe everything that I see and hear. This country is crazy and I am sure I will continue to enjoy myself.

Hope you are all well.