On Monday morning, we were woken up by the arrival of our bed tea. What’s bed tea, you ask? Tea, coffee, or hot chocolate that if ordered the night before, would be brought to you in the morning with little pastries so you could have a little something to eat in bed before breakfast. (Regrettably, ever since arriving home, no one has delivered this to me.)
After breakfast, we hiked in the rain to Glenburn School, the village’s main school house, to see the small campus and visit with the kids. They get really excited to have visitors so they can show off everything they’re doing in school, including learning English.
The Glenburn School building has about four separate rooms, and most of those rooms are partitioned off with secondary walls to create separate classrooms within each room. The school offers classes for kids from preschool up to about age 12. Counting all of the students that we saw, I’d guess there were about 30 kids in attendance, but the teachers said that many of the students were absent due to the rain. The majority of the kids have to walk, so if there is flooding, they are unable to make it to school that day.
The first area we visited at Glenburn School was the preschool through first grade room. The teacher for this age group was able to tell us a lot about the kids’ curriculum. From preschool on up, the kids are taught both Hindi and English. When we were there, the kids were working on their daily writing assignments in English. One row of the class had the preschool kids, the next row the kindergarten kids, and the third row had the 1st grade kids. This was the only room where the separate age groups were not partitioned off by a wall due to the fact that there is only one teacher and one assistant for all three of those grades.
When we visited the next grades up, they were really excited to show us what they were working on. It looked like high level math to me, but I never made it past algebra, so I couldn’t really tell you one way or the other. When we got to the room where the oldest kids were working, they gathered some of the kids together to sing for us! They performed two or three songs, both in their native language and ours. It was really great watching them get so into performing for us!
Once they finished, the teacher turned to us and said, ‘Okay, your turn!’ Wait. What? We definitely weren’t expecting that, so we had to quickly brainstorm something to sing that the kids would be able to understand or at least enjoy. My quick-thinking sister thought of a song we used to sing in Sunday school, Climb Up Sunshine Mountain, that has lots of entertaining hand movements, and so we sang it for a room full of amused kids who got the biggest kick out of us trying to teach it to them. We had a blast, and my dad caught the whole awkward performance on video.
A good part of Glenburn School runs off of generous donations from visitors to Glenburn Tea Estate, so after leaving the kids to get back to work, the manager (or principal, maybe?) of the school talked with us about how they operate the school and everything they do to prepare the kids for high school. It was really eye-opening visiting a school with so few rules. Kids arrive when they can, if they can come at all. The class curriculum isn’t strictly regimented. It’s nothing like the grade schools we are used to back home, but it works. The kids love coming to school and they learn a lot while they are there. Getting to see how much they appreciated being at school was a real pleasure for me. I certainly never had that same attitude towards going to school when I was younger!
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