Thursday, February 07, 2013

December 15th--Another camp begins

5:15 a.m. Jet lag wakes me early and I embrace the few hours of quiet here in my bedroom. I am in a familiar room; one of the teacher’s rooms at the hostel of CT Public Schools in Jalandhar, Punjab, India. It is my fourth time spending one month in this room, and not much has changed. The big blue daisies on the sheet, the shiny gold foil pictures of the Golden Temple in Amritsar on the walls, the old, red refrigerator, the almiras with graffiti from students of years past. My clothes and personal items are placed in the usual places. The CT school students who live in this hostel are the same but maybe a little taller or fatter, more facial hair or wearing a different coloured uniform. In many ways, my life has become like an international version of “Groundhog Day”, the classic Bill Murray movie, given my travel to the same three ocuntries; India, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, but it never gets boring there is always something new to discover and enjoy. Mainly with a new group of students each time, there is no dull routine but an excitement at teaching and watching the changes in them from day one to the end of camp. This camp is going to be special, what with Christmas and New Years. Of course I will be missing the excitement of the holidays in New York and the chance to celebrate with my friends and family there, but there is something truly special about celebrating the holidays in a different place, with students for whom Christmas and New Years are foreign. It will be like discovering the holidays all over again. I arrived three days ago, with two of my colleagues, burdened by 8 large suitcases of camp supplies, books, and lots of gifts, stockings, and decorations to make this holiday being spent in India a specal one. I’m excited and I think all my staff will be feeling the same. I’m trying to get ym assistant to don the Santa suit I bought at a 99 cent store in Brooklyn, but he is refusing. I still have some time to cajole and convince him. Besides being the holidays, this camp will be special for our students are lower level students and we have tweaked our curriculum to better suit their needs. I don’t know yet how it will all work out, but it will work out. It has been a long while since I’ve blogged, mostly I seem to have gotten out of my rhythm of it, but I will try to get back into that rhythm and post maybe not on a daily basis but a few times a week. There are new discoveries to make as we teach a new group of students and help change the lives of a future generation of Afghanistan. I see the change and impact when I talk to my counselors, former campers, and they tell me how much their lives have changed because of the Youth Solidarity and English Language (YSEL) program. When I hear their stories, the routine of my international life doesn’t seem so routine, and I am thankful for having this opportunity to live my life this way.

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