It’s officially been two weeks here at Shanti Bhavan, and it has been flying by! I can’t believe I’m only here for 3 ½ more weeks…
This last week has been simultaneously the best and worst days I’ve had at Shanti Bhavan. The only reason it had been rough was because I got a viral fever that lasted about 3 days. At first, I thought little of it, and tried my best to continue throughout the days. However, the fever hit full force on Friday, and I had to give in. They took me on a quick trip to the doctor’s office and got me some medicine. I was able to sleep it off and rest up during the weekend (a little sad because I had planned on going to Mysore for the weekend with the other volunteers).
On the flipside, the week has been the best week here at Shanti Bhavan. Although I was rather sick, the amount of caring and compassion from the teachers, students, staff, and volunteers was extremely heartwarming. Every way I turned, someone was checking in on me to make sure I was feeling better. Aunties took me to the hospital and provided me with food to make sure I was at least eating. People really care and watch out for one another here at Shanti Bhavan.
More importantly, this week was particularly special because of the incredible food we had. On Wednesday, Dr. George invited all the volunteers for a special dinner in the guest house. We had this special chapati that reminded me of Chinese onion pancakes; fresh potatoes, carrots, string beans, and green bell peppers from the school’s farm; an amazing duck curry that certainly goes down as the best Indian food I’ve ever had; a pumpkin lentil dish that comes a close second; and to finish it off, the sweetest jack fruit we’ve had so far.
The next day, Ajit (Dr. George’s son), Emily (one of the volunteers), and her father Jim provided the special treat in preparation for their departure from SB (volunteers always give a special treat before they leave. I’m thinking banana Nutella sandwiches for my departure?). Together, they’re collective special treat was a magnificent feast for the whole school that included butter chicken, freshly rolled naan (which I got to roll and cook with the older boys in the afternoon), paneer, and fried cauliflower (if I had cauliflower like this as a child, I might actually like the vegetable…). To top it off, we had butterscotch and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh mangos. Although my body was not particularly happy after the meal, it was totally worth it! *Sorry no photos of any of the food. I was too busy devouring it until I realized I should have documented it…
It’s funny to see how happy and joyful food makes people… but if anybody, I would certainly understand!
The week was also filled with piano lessons and general music classes. The students I have been teaching piano are such a pleasure to work with. Most of these students rarely have piano lessons (if any), yet they have eagerly taken on the challenge to learn Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin (others have also elected to work on the timeless Yiruma and Frozen soundtrack). It’s incredibly refreshing to see these students work so hard at piano on top of all the school work they already have. On August 6, we plan on putting on a small piano recital for these students, who will surely do an amazing job!
In music classes, I have struggled a little bit more, considering I’ve never actually taught general music classes. So far I’ve taught 3 children’s songs and games to 2nd graders and 4th graders. While I’m teaching, I’m not entirely sure that they enjoy the songs, but throughout the school day, many of them will run up to me singing bits of the song, reassuring me they are at least having somewhat fun! I must admit, second graders singing “Doggie, doggie, where’s your bone?” with choreography and all is pretty much the most adorable thing ever. Also, one second grader told me I sound like Simba. Pretty much the greatest compliment ever.
This coming weekend, a few volunteers and I plan on going to Bangalore. However, apparently the other volunteers have family or friends to meet up with, so I’ll be getting lost in the city on my own! I’m looking forward to exploring and getting to know a new city, known as the Garden City.
It’s been just over a year now since I’ve even looked at my Tumblr. Now seems like a fitting time to bring it back. Tomorrow, I’ll be traveling 8,700 miles to the small town of Baliganapalli in India to volunteer teach at the Shanti Bhavan School for five and a half weeks. Then I’ll get to spend about a week in Taiwan just for fun! I’ll be updating as much as possible throughout the summer. Although with my track record with these kind of things, we’ll see how often I actually write… Wish me luck!
The note given to new Apple staff on their first day.
There’s work and there’s your life’s work.
The kind of work that has your fingertips all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end.
Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Welcome to Apple.
Although, it seems quite fitting to give this to teachers as well.
There once was a traveler who journeyed all over the globe in search of wisdom and enlightenment. In the midst of one village, he came upon a great deal of noise, dust, and commotion. He approached the nearest laborer and asked, “Excuse me, I’m not from this village. May I ask what’s going on here?” The laborer replied curtly, “Can’t you see? I’m busting rocks.” The traveler approached a second laborer doing the same thing and asked the same question. The second laborer replied, “Can’t you see? I’m earning a living to support my family.” The traveler then approached a third laborer who was also breaking up rocks and posed the question a third time. With a broad smile and a gleam in his eye, the third laborer replied with great pride: “Can’t you see? We’re building a cathedral.” A story printed in the City Year Idealist Handbook 2007-2008, adapted from The Cathedral Within by Bill Shore.
I found this story on a blog (props to Nikita for showing me) dealing with topics about teaching. Interesting perspective. Simple and to the point.
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest… - Confucius
So, I never really like writing for these blogposts. I always have trouble putting into words how I really feel at the moment. But after some urging from a good friend, I realized that I really shouldn’t miss out on the chance to reflect on such a milestone in my life. As many of you may or may not know, I had my senior recital this past Tuesday. I played piano, cello, and saxophone for many of my closest friends and family, and the feeling was exhilarating! Part of me is so relieved to have finished this chapter of my life with one final concert, to have the chance to move on to bigger and better things, and part of me is saddened by the fact that time slows down for no one, that the familiarity and safety of my childhood will simply be a thing of the past, a memory. But despite all the frustrations and obstacles that needed to be overcome, I can honestly say that sharing my music, my passion, with people who truly care about me made the whole concert a truly worthwhile experience. From the very start, I ran into brick walls (as the recently deceased Dr. Randy Pausch would say). With second semester senior year and graduation, I became distracted and completely put off practicing for the concert. And it wasn’t until the end of June that I realized that I still needed to choose my repertoire. Keep in mind, I had not played cello for nearly a year by this point either. So frantically, I started combing through my piano music. I chose songs that I had enjoyed playing in the past years since I only had about a month to prepare. I had just bought a new alto sax and kept getting disheartened by the long transition from bari to alto. And most of all, by this point I still had no church to even perform in… (Here begins a rant, so if you don’t want to read my negative thoughts, then move on to the next paragraph J). So perhaps the most frustrating thing I encountered through this whole process was simply finding a venue to hold the concert in. And before I say anything more, I just want to say that I hope I don’t offend anyone through this mini-rant. Anyways, in May, a good friend of mine got me in contact with church that he is apart of. I was super excited, for the church had great acoustics, a beautiful grand piano, and plenty of room. When I emailed the person in charge of rentals (this is after graduation), she simply asked some questions about my senior recital and told me she would get back to me with more details. So I patiently waited, and after two weeks I had received no response. With only a month left before the concert, I started to get a little antsy. I quickly called, and she told me to wait a couple more days (I assume she simply forgot, which is understandable/forgivable). Still, a week and a half later, I still did not receive one phone call or email. Once again, I call in to ask about the rental of the church. As soon as she picks up, she tells me “No, we cannot accommodate your needs. Thank you. Goodbye.” I was shocked… She didn’t even have the decency to give me a reason for not allowing me to rent the church, to give me a call or email beforehand, or to even simply apologize. Simply a “no” and a “goodbye”. I simply did not understand. Does the Christian belief not teach compassion towards others? Does the Christian belief not teach people to help others? Does the Christian belief not teach generosity, friendship, and love? I felt like I was slapped in the face by a damn hypocrite who did not practice what she preached. Now don’t get me wrong… this is in no way my views of religious people as a whole. Many of my friends who are religious are wonderful loving people. But keep in mind: by this time it was already two and a half weeks before the concert, so I hope you understand my frustration. I had no choice but to frantically search for another church. After contacting nearly ten other churches, half of them told me no, one church charged an outrageous rate ($200 per hour???), and the others simply didn’t bother to reply. Just my luck… But boy do I feel blessed now to have such great connections from the music department at school. So for the past couple of years, my mom was in charge of volunteer sign ups for various SMB events. Now that I graduated, my mom passed it on to Jennifer Wey’s (like one of the best violinists in the whole nation) mom. Lucky for me, their church had just moved to a new location and Mrs. Wey offered to help me solve my problem! I couldn’t believe it! With less than two weeks left, I finally found a church with everything that I needed. To say Mrs. Wey was helpful is surely an understatement. Without her, I would not even be able to hold a senior recital. The church’s generosity and Mrs. Wey’s caring heart helped restore some faith in humanity that I had lost just a couple of days prior. Things were finally working out the way I wanted them to, and the day of the concert finally came. This senior recital was probably the most nervous I had ever been for a performance. Many of my friends rarely get to hear me perform, and this was my chance to share with them what I have been working on for the past twelve years. If I messed up, I would have been greatly disappointed. But as I walked on to stage and heard all my friends cheering so loudly, everything kind of just went away. I looked out to the audience and saw all the familiar faces, and I immediately felt this feeling of peace. I knew everything would be okay. And overall, the concert went really well. Some minor mistakes but that simply comes with a live performance I guess… Most of all, it was just nice to see everyone supporting me. The turn out was way better than I expected, and I feel so blessed to have so many people who care about me enough to sit through an hour and a half of me playing classical music… I really don’t know what I would do without such an amazing support system from my awesome friends to my amazing family. I really wish I could personally thank everyone! And as I move on to Northwestern, I hope that I’ll find a whole new family that I can once again share my music with. But if not… no worries! I’ll always have home.