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Thoughts and Classes

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Classes continue to go well.  I really enjoy the staff and teachers that I’ve been working with.  I know the majority of them (especially the staff) understand what I am saying but they need to practise conversation more.  Last week I decided that in my 7 to 9 class they have to speak more so I made tokens.  Each student received 9 of them.  Any time they got caught speaking Tamil whoever caught them could take one of their tokens.  The first day nobody lost a token even though I know some of them slipped up apparently they denied it and would not give up their tokens!  I had to smile to myself but was pleased because they were correcting each other and speaking english so my goal was accomplished.  The next day I reexplained my reasons and the rules saying this will continue now until I leave and the one with the most tokens will receive a prize of sorts.
Another idea I had was to teach them how to have a debate.  I have more girls than guys but I  decided on girls against guys and gave them a topic to discuss among themselves and get ready for a debate.  Guys had to defend their idea that once married wives should stay at home doing household chores, visiting neighbors, shopping and caring for the children.  Girls had to defend the idea that all women need an education and should be free to follow a career of their choice. The debate was great fun ending up with a major spokesperson from each side. I made notes on points made and it ended up a tie for points but not for the winner. That evening I typed up points made on each side and then which points were stronger according to how they defended their ideas. I handed them copies next class and explained how I judged and my reasons why I gave some points more credit than others. Girls won!
The strongest male point was the strength of a family unit when the mother is in the home.  That really made me reflect on growing up in the fifties. Moms wore dresses and so did the little girls.  The men left for work but mom was at home to send the children off to school.  Kids came home to the smell of bread, cake or cookies baking and of course a home cooked supper.  Once chores were completed the kids ran outside to catch a game of scrub or just ride their bikes around the neighborhood and play with friends. My observations in Kalmunai kinda reflect that lifestyle. Women all wear saris, skirts or dresses and the little girls are adorable in their dresses with hair in pigtails or braids. I see groups of children laughing and catching a game of cricket before it gets dark.  I believe the family unit is very important to them.  The guys stated that women do a good job in the home, raising the children, visiting neighbors, ect.  They felt that with mom at home there is less chance of the children getting into trouble and that it keeps husbands and wives happy and not fighting thus a stronger family unit.
That point was defended further by saying it is not safe for women to be outside of the home on their own and especially after dark.  You do not see women on the streets after 6 pm. Therefore the guys said the women cannot work outside of the home and further their education because it is not safe for them.  I loved the girls comeback to that idea! Girls stated that in other places you see women on the streets, having careers and furthering their education.  They said the government  is now trying to help and protect abused women.  They also said that if guys really cared they would fight and work hard to change the fact that it is unsafe for girls; reason being it is guys that make it unsafe! Girls pointed out that many women hold good jobs and that their jobs benefit all society not just the family. They also pointed out the income would benefit the family.
Each side had other points and it was a great fun for me to observe.  There still exists a lot of male chauvinism but I believe many of the guys agreed with the girls points.
I had another class with the teachers on Saturday morning.  We reviewed what I’d taught at the workshop and practised the songs, games and fingerplays. I was happy to see that many of the teachers had learned the words and again I could see the joy of learning and participating  they exhibited. On Amanda’s travels last week she was at one of the preschools and she said she walked up to hear them singing one of the songs I’d taught the teachers. That’s rewarding plus the fact that many of them have come up to me to ask if I could please stay longer.  At the end of the class the english preschool teachers came and took my hand saying they had together prayed that I would stay or come back again to teach them more!
They do have opportunities in Kalmunai to learn english but having a different approach to teaching (and being Canadian) has made it interesting for them.  The have said on different occasions that they like my teaching method.  Guess all that drama has paid off!  Sometimes when they are laughing I say, “Are you guys laughing at me!”
They quickly say, “No mam,” and look worried that I might think that.  I really do not care I am just happy that they are having fun!
After work the other day Amanda announced to me that the guys were putting up a net and playing badminton.  That was right up my alley so I donned my running shoes and grabbed a racket.  Doesn’t take much to work up a sweat here!  They have real feathers in their birdies and playing outside in the sand made for a different game than back home in the gym.
After work on Saturday Amanda and I left for Arugan Bay.  It is rated as one of the top surf beaches in the world and is only a couple hours south of us.  We’d booked two nights at a beachfront cabana.  It felt good to be a tourist.  Eating, swimming, drinking, sleeping………………..I really must do more of that!  The place we stayed at was owned by a Danish couple.  The guy was killed in the 2004 tsunami when his resort was badly damaged.  It is again up and running and proved to be a neat resort.  Along the coast are several tourist resorts and we met lots of folks from Australia, New Zealand, England and Europe. Amanda took surf lessons from a local and was able to catch lots of waves.  Listening to the surf break on the beach all night was soothing but the little ants that atttacked me in my sleep sure were not.  I felt pinches but did not realize until morning just how many red welts my body had!  At least I think they were from the little ants! All in all it was a good mother’s day for me and I hope many other moms had a great Sunday!

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