Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Curry Up for Lunch!

Lunch time at Rising Star Outreach ( is one of the best parts of my day, because most days I go and eat lunch with the kids.  My job here keeps me on campus most of the day instead of in the colonies, which is a bummer I don't get out to the colonies as much as I'd like, but it does give me the chance to see the kids a TON! At lunch in the dining hall, it makes me feel like the most popular kid around because there is always an invite from 1 - 200 children to come sit and eat with them.  The little kids are fun to sit next to, but since the really young ones don't speak much english yet, the meal time conversations consist of "what is your name?"... "what is my name"... then lots of smiles and watching them eat.  Sometimes this is fun just because the little ones are soooo cute! And watching them eat all Indian style with their right hand and no utencils is adorable.  But today I sat with two boys, Praveen and Sanjay.  They are both a little older, probably about 8 years old.  They were so entertaining!  I think they are by far my best lunch buddies.  They talked to me the whole lunch and were just cracking me up the entire time.  They told me their nick names for eachother (well, they didn't tell me one of them because it's a bad word in Tamil I guess).  Praveen even wanted to know how everyone in my family spelled thier names.  When he got to spelling out the "Domm" part, it went like this "D - O - yem - yem".  If you've been out here to rising star or anywhere in Tamil Nadu, you have already heard the "yem" sound when someone here tries to say "M".   After sitting with Praveen and Sanjay I got hugs all around from the rest of the kids, and walked with Priya back to school.  I don't know how I am ever going to leave this place! I am just going to have to hire some little kids at home to hug me every hour.
Tamil Selvi


N. Vignesh.  Wouldn't sit still!

N. Vignesh


Satish and Kristaraj

Satish taking his time with his lunch

Kristaraj. This kid is HILLARIOUS!!

Kanmani Devan. So sweet

Arun. All Smiles!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It was SO Comedy!

Tonight is  Sunday night and I am sitting here on my bed thinking about how fast my time in India has already flown by.  Granted I still have 5 months left, but this past month seriously FLEW by so quickly.  Not only that, but in just over a month I have fallen in love with the people here.  The staff here at Rising Star Outreach ( are so fun and always willing to help, with a smile on their faces and the infamous head bobble.  I love the head bobble, and find myself doing it sometimes too.  I've heard the bobble means that someone has acknowledged your comment, but that it doesn't necessarily mean "yes" or "no".  This was confusing at first, but now if I see a head bobble when I ask a question, I just assume that they said yes and then I keep on talking.  And the kids...if you've read any of my blog posts before this then you know I am obsessed with them!  I am not exaggerating, they are amazing.  Every night we get to go into the hostels (where the kids sleep and the best part of my day) and read with and hang out with the kids.  The kids are divided into 8 "homes" in the hostels.  Each hostel home has a house mother, who watches over about 20 kids each.  This gives the kids a sense of family, which is really important since they are away from their families for most of the year.  Anyway, when I first went to the hostels at night, I would float around from hostel to hostel, seeing all of the kids.  This was fun for a while because I got to see a lot of them.  Now I am trying a different approach which I like much better.  I have been going into 1 - 2 hostels each night and have been spending time just getting to know the kids 1 on 1.  Every night I find myself smitten with another beautiful child, and since I've been sticking around the same hostels I have had the chance to meet and get to know them.

Tonight I went to Vannila Mary's hostel (she is one of the house mothers).  Hari, the little boy I sponsor is in this house, and is one of the funniest kids I know.  When something is funny, like a funny movie, he always says "it was so comedy", instead of "it was so funny".  We've adapted this way a talking and now instead of saying something is funny, I say "That was SO COMEDY!". 

Hari and his buddies like to play with WWE cards. They have a game with them using the wrestlers biceps circumference, and other stats.  Tonight he told me about one of the fighters biceps is 32", and then I asked him what his was and he said 5", and proceeded to tell me he had "small bicep" he was flexing. Gosh he is so cute. 

I am still learning the names of all the boys, but in this pic is Vishva, Madhavan, Harikrishnan, and David.  One night in the hostel David just snuggled up next to me and read me an entire book.  He's such a smart kid! He's a lot quieter than the other boys.  I love how each of these kids have distinctly different personalities.  The time I get to spend with them is so special to me.

A few nights ago over in Vannila Mary's hostel I met another sweet kid name VimalKanth (Vimal).  I was sitting on Vimal's bed watching some of the boys play a card game, when he came up and sat right next to me.  He told me the rules of Cricket, and I tried to explain American Baseball to him (he knew about most of it).  We talked about our families and he knew that I had lost my mom a few years back because I gave Hari a book in which I wrote in the cover a little letter to Hari with some pictures of me and my family.  He must have borrowed the book I gave Hari and read it.  He told me he lost his dad, and just the whole conversation with him was so genuine and heartfelt.  Vimal also told me that he likes to play the piano...and then a light went on in my head!  I had remembered an email I got from one of the last long term volunteers that was here, Sam, that left a few months ago. He mentioned that Vimalkanth was taking piano lessons from him, and he wanted me to try and find someone that could continue teaching him.  I tried to find a new long term volunteer to continue teaching him piano, but sadly none of us play piano!  That night talking to Vimal, I told him that I would do whatever I could to find him a teacher. Since we just got a new group of short term volunteers that are here for a few weeks, I decided to ask one of them to teach him piano while they are here for a few weeks.  I told Vimal I had found him a teacher and he was so happy! Ellie, a session coordinator that is here for a couple weeks is teaching him piano now till she leaves.  Not only is Vimal happy about this, but Ellie loves it!  I am kinda jealous... I wish I didn't stop my piano lessons in 8th grade because I want to teach him! haha.  I hope there is someone that plays piano in each of our volunteer sessions because Vimal is so driven and talented, I don't want to see that go away.  That kid wakes up every morning at 7:30am to practice!

This Saturday we went to Pondicherry (Puducherry) again, and this time I got a blessing from Lakshmi the Elephant!  It took a few tries to get a picture of it happening, so I got lots of blessings, and paid Lakshmi more rupees than I probably should have just to get this shot. Maybe that's why I am feeling particularly blessed today.

*Most of these great pics were courtesy of Callie!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Munchkin I like to Call Gokie...or Gobi

There are about 20 new UKG (kindergarten) kids at Rising Star Outreach this year, and THEY ARE ALL SO FREAKING CUTE!  It's seriously ridiculous how adorable these kids are.  One of these adorable little nuggets is named Gobi.  We've called him "Gokie" for the past 3 weeks, but apparently that's not his name (which he corrected Callie today while he was walking up the stairs), and to be honest, I'm not sure it's "Gobi" either.  Until we get a new list of names I am going to call him Gobi.  Gobi can be seen at playtime wearing this dashing turtleneck when it's 110 degrees outside.  Check him out! What a stud.

I find myself trying not to be a stalker and stare at these beautiful children all the time, but it's difficult.  I sat next to Gobi at lunch yesterday and just watched him eat.  haha,  That probably weirded him out but I couldn't help it.  Also, a few nights ago we gave each kid a de-worming pill. Sounds gross huh.  It's really just a chewable pill that they all have to take when they come back to school from their break.  The older boys seemed to like the pill because they kept on coming up to me wanting more of them.  But not Gobi.  We would put the pill in his mouth and he would spit it out...numerous times.  Eventually he was pinned down by 5 other boys, and after 5 minutes of them shoving the pill in his mouth and holding his mouth closed so he would swallow it, he finally chewed it up and ate it. I am so sad I didn't have a camera at that moment because it was so funny.  Even though Gobi didn't want the pill and tried to spit it out, he was a good sport and there were no tears. 

A few days ago I helped Callie take new school pictures of the kids, and here are some of Gobi from that photo shoot.  Callie got some great shots!  Speaking of shots, we started taking the school photos after the kids were getting their fingers pricked and getting shots...that's why Gobi is looking at his finger in the pic below.  Not a good idea to take pictures of 6 year olds right after they get their shots.


Is that a string or piece of rope you see holding Gobi's pants up? Why yes it is!  He is sometimes seen adjusting his pants in the waist so they don't fall off.  Oh, and tucking his top into his underwear. 

Gobi is brand new at Rising Star, so he is going to need some sponsors!  If you are interested in Sponsoring this adorable little guy, let me know! It's only $30 per month to become a sponsor and help him with his schooling.  And you get a cute pen pal that will write you letters! The kids LOVE their sponsors. They are like superstars to them!