Apologies on a lack of writing in one’s blog because someone is having a good time are boring and pointless. Therefore, I will keep mine short. I was moving and vacationing and working until steam came out of my ears. Then I got sick, and better, and now here I am – on vacation in Tokyo and catching up with you all!
Firstly: Christina, what are you doing in TOKYO? I am on vacation visiting other Shansi fellows in Japan and China until around January 10th, 2013. Right now I’m staying with Lissette, who is teaching English at J.F. Oberlin University in Machida (and meeting her co-fellows Peter and Matt), and then in a little less than a week, I’ll be moving on to Beijing and Taigu, China, where I will reunite with Ricardo (in Beijing), and Veronica and Amelea (in Taigu), all Shansi fellows from my year, and Rebekah (also in Taigu), who is also teaching English and studying Chinese. I’ll fill you in on the work I’ve been up to since my last post.
The main project I have been working on is the 16 Day Campaign addressing Violence Against Women. At Jagori, the campaign actually is focused primarily on women, but worldwide the campaign focuses more on gender-based violence (i.e. including men and other genders in addressing violence against ALL genders).
The campaign is named “the 16 Day Campaign” because it lasts from the 25th of November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) until December 10th (International Human Rights Day). Jagori has been busy planning events addressing violence against women in their community. From the 25th to the 27th of November, Jagori team members performed a street play in three locations across the Kangra District. The play mainly tackled the issue of the 33% seating reservation for women on buses. The reservation (there is also one for children and senior citizens) exists to give women a place on buses that is free from harassment by men. Also, women tend to be the ones carrying children, groceries, and other heavy loads during bus travel, and should be given a place to sit. It’s not that women deserve special treatment BECAUSE they are women – but women in Kangra (at least, if not all of India), because they have more of a burden to carry and are simultaneously subject to many forms of harassment on buses, should be given a safe place to rest during travel. Until the burden is shared more equally with men and women are free from this harassment, it is the belief of my organization that this reservation must be upheld. My job during the street play performance was to take pictures and to interview people about their reaction to the play, what they learned, and what must be done to end gender-based violence. I also helped to write a press release for the campaign that was sent to three area newspapers.
Photos of the 16 Day Campaign:
On the English teaching front, things have also changed. I am now teaching English twice a week for an hour to staff members of Jagori. The class members are drawn from administrative staff and two other teams at Jagori that I don’t get to work with very often, so it’s a really diverse group and I really enjoy getting to start and end my week with them. I’ve been teaching them whatever they want to work on, which includes some grammar, but mostly practice in speaking. They are so enthusiastic (and mostly show up to class when they’re supposed to), they only want me to speak to them in English outside of class, and more often then not, they do their homework! For me, this is just an opportunity to be available to them as an English resource, whatever they want me for. I don’t structure class very formally, and even if only one person shows up, I make the lesson into a private tutoring session. So far, I’m really enjoying teaching and bonding with my coworkers!
My student English class is slowly morphing into something resembling a successful class, but it needs a lot of work. We’ve started with a blog project involving the Tremont School, a school my mom helped to found and that my sister works at as an art therapist. This project involves my class in India writing blog posts to the class in the States, and vice versa, and both classes comment on the others’ posts, ask questions, exchange ideas, etc. So far, two students in my class have introduced themselves to the Tremont school class in posts, and one of those students has written an essay, which I posted, about the appreciation of fathers in families and Indian society. The Tremont school kids have commented on both of the introduction posts, and asked good questions, so we do officially have cultural exchange happening, even if it’s on a small scale. There are two problems I see in this class, however: there are three girls in my advanced class, and I’m realizing that one is not advanced at all, and the other two have very different levels of ability. The other problem is that in order to get internet at the site I teach the class at, we need to go to an internet cafe nearby. Often that cafe is crowded and noisy, and it’s hard for us all to concentrate. I will slowly figure out solutions to these problems, but it just makes me realize that my time at Jagori is all a work in progress!
In the week leading up to my vacation to Japan, I also got involved in a research project that Jagori has been working on for the past two years. It’s a legal research project funded by the Ford Foundation investigating how accessible people perceive their government and the legal process in Himachal Pradesh to be. It’s also aimed at figuring out the extent to which corruption still exists in those systems. I summarized data collected from interviews of 47 litigants who had filed cases in district courts into a 15 page report. It was hard work but really interesting! Hopefully I’ll be doing more with this project after I get back from vacation.
I also have a new schedule that allows me to have more time for myself!
Monday: 9-10am: TARA Staff English Class (@TARA), 4-5pm Advanced Blog Class in Khaniara
Tuesday: field day/AWAJ team day
Wednesday: field day/AWAJ team day
Friday: 9-10am: TARA Staff English Class (@TARA)
Saturday: field day/AWAJ team day
I really needed an extra day for cleaning my house, reading, and working on a new music project I’m really excited about.
Next post: a singing project, new house pictures, holidays, and hiking pictures!