Sunday, March 25, 2012

Last full Village Day - Fire & Nice!

Popti Celebration on the outskirts of Chinchoti

Our House

OK, it was only 1:30am

This is where the bricks for our community center were purchased.

Claudia Poojari - Famous Bollywood Actress on our trip.
    Today we had a pretty early start.  We woke up at 5:30, before the sunrise, in order to go hiking to the Wagdevi temple (a hidden temple inside a cave in the Chinchoti Mountains). After the 40 minute hike, we spent about half an hour inside doing yoga and meditating. Then we came back just in time for a quick breakfast before returning to the work site. Later on, some of us went to buy clothes in a nearby village while others decided to stay back and relax with our families and new friends.

    After a final WLS meeting, we ventured out to the mountains for a final get together with all our new friends from the village. We danced, played games and ate food cooked by the fireside. It was a great bonding experience that we all thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget! After a rickshaw ride back to the village, we returned to our houses for a final dinner. All in all it was a long, but great way to spend our final, full day in the village. We'll definitely miss our home stay families, village and time together in India!

Brittany and Mike

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brick Making and Boogey-ing

     Today, we took a 45 minute journey to a very small village outside of Chinchoti. This is where the bricks that we use for our project are made. We got a chance to contribute to the making of these bricks, and we also got an opportunity to interact with some of the local people. Each brick is made by hand, and we were amazed by the skills of the workers and their good spirits, as we could never do anything like this! After this, we returned to Chinchoti and worked on our library. We have finished the structure itself, and began putting on the roof.

     We also completed a "global issues scavenger hunt" where each person was assigned an issue affecting the village and had to interview local people for research. Examples of these issues included: water and how it's obtained, the role of gender in education, climate change, and sanitation. After lunch, we had some dance lessons, taught by a very sassy 10 year old girl, Yamini. We gained a lot of respect for Bollywood dancers. And you should have seen Mr. Moses-Jenkins getting it down, you wouldn't have believed your eyes. We spent the rest of the day relaxing with our home stay families, who we will sincerely miss when we leave. We are excited to work tomorrow and see the library finished.

-Dana and Claudia
Working together on the outskirts of Chinchoti.

Making bricks with the tribals (as they are referred to by other Indians)

Learning how to dance with Yamini

Friday, March 23, 2012

After 2 days of working, we have most of the house finished. Our assembly line are working extremely well, and with leaders like Mike and Zach organizing the jobs, things have been running very smoothly. =]

Working hard to set up the direction of the roof. =]

Party All Night Long

Last night, we attended a New Year ceremony with the village. Mr. Moses-Jenkins represented Berkeley Carroll, and was able to participate in the giving of backpacks to the local children who had recognition of their efforts in school. After the ceremony, Isabella's sister, Rhena, took us on a tour of her best friends' houses. We were greeted with sugar and smiles. At every house, we were invited to take a picture with the family, and her friends even poked fun at Sonny.

After all the excitement, some of us played a couple rounds of Uno, and some of us went out to party. Claudia's house was invited to a dance party, and Gale danced until 3 in the morning.Zach's house was filled with people offering coconuts and they wee all interested in the journals that Zach, Mike, and Sonny are writing in.

It was a late night for some, but we were able to sleep in until about 8. Now, Olivia and Isabella are with the family while the group went on a hike to see how bricks are made. After, we will be going down to the work site to hopefully finish up one more wall and start plastering.

-Isabella and Olivia

It's a brick house and the hills are alive with the sound of music in chinchoti that is!

    Today we woke up at 6:30am and hiked up a small mountain that was amazingly beautiful. Once we reached the summit we did sun salutations, meditation, and breathing exercises. We got a bird's eye view of the village that was breathtaking and had a great time.
    When we came back to the village we had breakfast with our families, a new day, then we headed over to the worksite. We made great progress in constructing the walls and edges of the roof. After two hours of hard work we went to the lake to wash clothes. Although the washing of laundry was not easy, it was very rewarding. We then had lunch and relaxed with our families. After we headed back to the worksite to do more work which was very successful. We had plenty of chai breaks and some yummy sweets. Tonight we were welcomed at the village's official new year ceremony which was colorful, musical, and beautiful. It was a very productive and fun day, with lots of working, chai, washing, and relaxing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Morning Hike and Yoga above Chinchoti village, Maharastra, India Refreshing!

1st full day!!!!!!!!! yay!!!!!

Today was our first full day in our homestays! Last night was spent in our homestay homes. They were all very welcoming. They made sure we were comfortable and laid out our mats and sleeping bags for us. They also made sure we cleaned up our stuff! After our first night, we woke up to the sounds of roosters crowing and people puttering around the house. Amelia’s group had a breakfast of crackers and chai (the first couple cups of the day), and Emily’s group had upma, which is potatoes, garlic, wheat, onions, and peppers. It was all really good! We all asked to help do chores but we were told not to do them. We tried to help out anyway. (Amelia: our host mother tried to teach us how to make a certain type of didn’t work out too well. She sent us away pretty fast. )  Emily’s group also got to see how to make the upma.

After breakfast all the girls helped our families carry water. We did this by carrying the pots on our heads! We were able to balance the empty pots, but the full pots were a lot more tricky. We were chastened by the girls who could carry two or three full pots on their heads without using their hands!  Even those who only carried one were impressive.  But it was a lot of fun, and the boys occasionally helped, but mostly laughed at us and took pictures of us.

After that, we headed over to the construction site. The people from the community were already hard at work, and we were welcomed with open arms. We helped mostly with carrying and fetching concrete, laying bricks, and creating piles and piles of bricks wherever they were needed! We got very good at creating assembly lines, and we completed a significant part of the building today--- the walls are almost completely done! We have about three more feet to go, and with some luck it will all be completed by the time we leave! And don’t worry, we made sure to take plenty of water/chai and snack breaks. :)

After our first stint at the construction site, we headed back to our homestays for a light chicken curry, an ocre-like vegetable that you sucked out the meat from, a great popped bread (kind of like homestays) and roti! It was all delicious but very spicy. (Amelia: at our homestay, we were lucky enough to be given the chance to have a little siesta after lunch. We may or may not have overslept and missed 20 minutes of work....)

During the break Emily’s group played Uno with the homestay family and many of the local children came by to watch.  They seem to really like the game!!!! It was a really great way to bond and have fun.   We laughed constantly.

Then we went back and worked for another couple hours. The time flies by when you’re singing Simon and Garfunkel and laughing! After our first full day of work, we had about an hour to go back to our homestays and take bucket showers. There might not be anything better than a bucket shower after spending hours in the sun working with cement and dust. It gets everywhere. Then we were given even more chai (we actually had some at the work site, too!) that was very sweet and delicious, this definitely contributed to our need to use the squatting toilets!

After that we headed back to the big house for a leadership activity. We each identified our personal character types—whether we are guardians, artisans, idealists, or rationalists.  Guardians are loyal, responsible, and helpful.  Artisans are spontaneous, energetic, and helpful.  Idealists are kind and idealistic.  Rationalists are logical.  We then discussed the pros and cons of each character type.  We ended our session by asking some additional questions that we are supposed to think about over night.  The questions were: who is someone that bothers you, and what is their character type, and what might be some foreseeable problems between members of our group and what are some possible solutions in relation to character types.

Our solo freshman Sunny is alive and well. He writes: “Hey mom I love you and I miss you. Dad I  miss you too. From Sunny your son. I miss you too sister. Peace!”
Overall, we had an awesome, exhilarating, fulfilling, exhausting day!!!!!   Now to eat dinner and then go to bed so we can get up early to go on a hike.    Signing out: Amelia and Emily.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Day Chinchoti

After an hour long ferry ride through the Arabian Sea, an hour on a bus, and forty-five minute rickshaw ride, we finally arrived in the beautiful village of Chinchoti.  Upon arrival, we were greeted with a parade and celebrations, as the entire community came out to welcome us.  There was music, dancing, and a beautiful bindi ceremony. After this, we all went to one of the houses for an incredible lunch, as we talked about what was to come.  We then were introduced to our host families and shown our homes for the next week. After dropping off our bags, we went for a walk around the village and ended up at a lake where we helped do laundry, skipped rocks, and played games with the children. On our walk back, we tried to help carry the laundry on our heads but it was a complete mess. It IS as hard as it looks. Then we spent some more time getting to know our host families: sharing music, dancing, getting henna and having dinner. Finally, to conclude the day, Krishna (our guide) gave us some lessons in Marati, as we wrote some key phrases in our journals. Today was a really beautiful day and we couldn't be more excited for the coming week, as we work with the village to build their community center.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

 Today was another great day in Mumbai. We started out the day with a ride on the local train. We were headed in the opposite direction of rush hour and were lucky enough to have seats. Krishna told us that usually it is so crowded you can barely stand of two feet and there are 10 to 15 deaths of the trains every day! After we got off the train we started our tour of the Dharavi slum. I think everyone's expectations were exceeded (both negatively and positively). We started in the industrial part of the slums and walked through the numerous recycling shops. All together we saw the locals recycle plastic and aluminun paint cans, create clay pots, dye and print fabrics, and bake special treats. Everyone was so compact and loud and seemed like the last place anyone would want to work. The greatest surprise of the day was just how happy the people were to be there. Everyone was friendly and smiling and there was an overwhelming sense of community.

What was profoundly heart warming was the joy that radiated from the people saying hello or waving even though they were living and working in conditions that were not only very different from ours, but sometimes very hazardous to their bodies. While walking through the clay area we passed what they use as a kiln. A large mound of burning cotton and other materials that produced a very thick, smelly smoke that circulated in the narrow walk way of the slum.

The group split up into seven and seven. One half went to a kindergarten class while the other taught a class of students how to make a bill on Excel. This integral activity really submersed us in the culture and community of kids our age growing up in what we would consider much worse and intense conditions. The diversity among the pairing of students from two very different nations was incredibly educational and one of the most inspiring and encouraging moments of the trip so far.

After the slum tour we were all exhausted and ready for a power nap. We all split up into separate taxi's and went back to the hotel in what seemed like a near death experience. Our tour guide told us   that if you could cross the street in Mumbai, you could cross the street anywhere. After a well needed rest we went to the movie theater and watched a "classic" Bollywood movie. It was was an interesting contrast from our movie experience. The plot was so complex and surprisingly easy to follow even though the movie was in Hindi. We once again had short rest and then spent around 45 minutes having an intense debriefing about the morning. We discussed a lot of the issues that we noticed in the slum as well as the general attitude of the community. From this we deduced the principle issues that the slum has as well as possible solutions based on roots of the problems in the slum.

A special thanks and appreciation is deserved for our two wonderful guides and leaders, Chris and Krishna, as well as the other members of the Reality Tour service. They have successfully led us through Mumbai, a city where you can't cross the street without at least five horns honking at you, and tomorrow we leave for our homestays. Very excited.

Dharavi and beyond

This morning we went on a powerful, few hour tour of the Dharavi slum with Krishna, a founder of Reality Tours, which is a non-profit dedicated to sharing and raising awareness about this community with locals and travelers alike, and fully reinvesting their proceeds in educational resources and the like.

Students will be blogging momentarily, but a quick preview:  what was the experience like?  Here are a list of adjectives they chose to capture their thoughts about Dharavi—it was: enlightening, organized, panicked, mid-blowing, confusing, surprising, true, eye-opening, struggling, real, difficult, working.

Monday, March 19, 2012

first full day mumbai pics, a sampler...

 sari shopping
 blouse fitting
 bindi sorting
 a busy market day with krishna


A handful of impressions from our very full marathon of a day exploring Mumbai inside out...
- Photos by krishna & christopher john lindstrom

Another video!


A very busy day!

After a nice long day learning about Mumbai, visiting a number of cultural sites—from Gandhi's residence, Mani Bhavan to Victoria Terminus—and, for the women, purchasing saris—everyone's off to bed, and the students will eagerly report more on the blog tomorrow.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Students are in Mumbai

Hello parents and friends! The students have safely arrived in Mumbai. They have settled into their hotel and will be resting before exploring Mumbai tomorrow. They will update the blog tomorrow. Please call the office with any questions 303-679-3412.

Erin Lasky
Director of Operations.
We've arrived!

After a long though pleasantly uneventful flight (and lots of movie watching), we were greeted with smiles and kind welcomes from Chris and Krishna.  After about an hours bus ride from the airport, we're settled in at our small Garden Hotel, with folks soon to sleep.

We've got a nice, late 8:00am wake-up call and time for a leisurely breakfast before a busy day learning about and exploring Mumbai.

More soon -- now off to bed!

Friday, March 16, 2012

So we are off to do some final shopping having finalized our itinerary and are going to spend the next couple of days meeting with Dharavi & Chinchoti community members.  We are well equipped with local cellphones, wifi USBs thanks to Krishna & Chris. See you soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Time to Begin!

Greetings from India where Krishna & I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our Berkeley Carroll students and teachers! Christopher Lindstrom, WLS leader here, I flew in yesterday and after a full day's journey from Tokyo, at 10:30am today I will meet with Krishna where we will begin wrapping up the last minute details of the trip in preparation of everyone's arrival.  We look forward to meeting everyone and sharing our journey together via the blog with parents, friends and the greater Berkeley Carroll school community.  Bon voyage & Namaste!