Today was an important day of firsts. It was my first day of teaching and also, my first post-undergraduate day of work. I am happy to say that today, August 1st, was a success.
School started with a special assembly that served two purposes: first, to bid farewell to the American teachers that had been teaching on exchange for the last month and second, to welcome me, the new teacher from the United States. When the principal announced that I would be staying for the next 9 months, the whole student body squealed in excitement. Then, the principal invited us on stage and presented us with gifts. We were also encouraged to say a few words. Because I am learning Bangla, I was encouraged to say something in Bangla when I was handed the mic. I looked at the principal hesitantly (every bangla word escaped my mind at that very moment) and she whispered, ” nomoshkar,” (hello) so I said “nomoshkar,” and then, I got a little more confident and said, “ami Bangla shikhchi,” which means I am learning Bangla. It was a nice way to break the ice before giving my mini speech about how excited I was to start my journey with the students and teachers of the school. After we left the stage, we sat back in our seats and enjoyed three dance performances, one classical Indian dance, one tribal dance and one Odissi dance performance. The intricacy of Indian dance never ceases to amaze me. Every finger has a place and even the eyeballs are choreographed. The assembly came to an end with a rendition of “We are the World” sung by the choir accompanied by a man on the keyboard. All of the performances were wonderful, and I was delighted to be welcomed into the school community with open arms.
I taught three classes today. The first was a dance class for class 8. The teacher suggested that I show them a few steps so I whipped out the old lindy ball change and a few ballet moves. At the end of class one girl showed me some breakdancing moves, I was very impressed that I had a B-girl in my dance class.
The second class of the day was with class 5 and the third was with class 6. I read off a list of statements about myself and had the students guess which ones were true and which ones were false. I then presented some pictures of me, my family and my friends to go along with my response to the true or false statements. Then I had them write letters to me introducing themselves, which I can’t wait to read. All of the students were really excited which made incredibly excited as well. The class 5 and class 6 girls all wanted my signature and had so many follow up questions to ask me. Each class ended with me getting mobbed by 10, 11 and 12 year olds, but I honestly didn’t care, I wanted to stay and answer all their questions and learn all their names, but there just wasn’t enough time. Thank goodness I have nine months.
After class, I did a little bit of shopping. I finally bought one of the long mumu-like nightgowns that they sell on the streets and I also bought a lot of tea. Darjeeling is in West Bengal and Assam is nearby so they sell these teas everywhere. It was really nice to come home and have a pot of Darjeeling after a day of teaching and shopping at the bazaar.