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12 February 2019

At 5am, the day starts with the children singing their hearts out at prayer, after which they beckoned us with ‘Hi Sisters!’ and excitedly guide us to their morning karate workout. They were in time without even trying and very forceful with the chops and shouts – it was incredible! We then went to breakfast, where we had the amazing eggy bread, that everyone loved (a welcomed break from the flavoursome curries and vegetables of previous meals).

Following this, half of us went out on the school run, and the other half went to watch the Udayan Vidyalaya primary school lessons which were on site. On the minibus, the kids were so excited to show us their brightly coloured impressive school making their faces lighting up as they drew near. When goodbyes were said reluctantly we walked the short journey back to Udayan whilst the bus went back to Udayan to deliver the Class 8 pupils to their exam centres. After seeing vibrant colours, and hearing music coming from every speaker available and smells of every variety we realised India was very different from anything we had ever experienced. Despite the little the inhabitants have, it certainly is the City of Joy – we were welcomed by friendly smiles and conversation along our walk with the locals. We were led to three different schools, where at the third one, we were lovingly invited in and met a fascinating English teacher who’s grammar was even better than ours, even though he hadn’t even spoke to an English person.* He grew up in a rural village, but taught himself English through an Oxford grammar book and dictionary, and he could quote lines of great texts like Pride and Prejudice impeccably. This dedication led him to acquire an honours degree and masters in English. Through visiting the schools, it really highlighted the amazing work that Udayan does because their kids were the only ones confident in their English and able to talk to us.

The other half of the group, who stayed at Udayan, were treated to the classes singing the Udayan song that we knew from Youtube. We hope to learn the actions with the words to bring back home. We originally were only meant to sit and watch the lessons but to pupils delight but we actually ended up teaching them. They loved learning English, while we also loved learning Bengali. This exchange was a fantastic bonding experience. At one point Elia was surrounded by a whole class each doing her hair, as they loved her blonde hair – ending up with around 20 plaits! The kids loved Olivia’s glasses, all wanting pictures with them – it was one of the cutest things ever! While learning numbers they had different songs to help them remember it, they wanted to show us everything they knew because they were so proud of every little thing. The joy in the kid’s faces was something we’d never seen before, and something we will never forget. Ending similarly to the evening before a round of sports was played, with Team England getting ‘smashed’ at badminton. We are excited for our next morning with our Udayan family before traveling to the city.

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*Grammatical error left in by the editor to prove a point.


Caroline Weldon

@ 1027 days ago

You are certainly entering into the spirit of life at Udayan, falling under the spell of the children and opening your hearts to them. Wonderful!

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