Cate wrote a blog while she was at AGN school. You can view her blog at stanfordnanbargal.wordpress.com. Here is one of her blog entries detailing one of her first days on campus!
Yesterday, I learned of the beautiful customs of the schools. The children had exams, and while they were in progress we met with the administrators. They asked if I ever get nervous for my exams back at Stanford – um, OF COURSE! Wonderful to discover this universal connection. The children are scored on a scale of 10. The administrators showed me the report cards of their top students. Not only are the students tested in academic subjects, but they are also tested on emotional and social skills. They have daily yoga and mediation. They have weekly art competition showcases where the students perform and share their photography. The children come up to me and say, “Hi, how are you?” And, “Happy to see you.” They are so articulate, polite, and precious. The school’s also very forward thinking. Boys and girls are seen as equals. Though they sit on opposite sides of the classroom, when we go to the playground the girls join in the boys’ games. I visited one all girls class. I asked what they were learning, and they said physics. They are SO smart! They want to become doctors, teachers, and scientists.
And plastic bags are banned at the school. The children also learn about environmental protection – you go, Tamil Nadu!
There are two schools at the school – AGN and APPU. I teach at APPU this week only; AGN I teach for the rest of my time here. APPU follows the national curriculum standards set by India. AGN follows the state curriculum standards of Tamil Nadu. The difference is that at APPU, the children learn Tamil, Hindi, and English languages. At AGN they learn only Tamil and English. I am so impressed – three languages! I can barely speak two. Slowly I learn Tamil. A parent came up to me yesterday when I was playing with the children before their buses came to pick them up. She said, “My English is not very good, but you understand?” I told her I understood her perfectly, and that I wish I could speak Tamil as well as she could speak English to me and that the school is teaching me small phrases day by day. She said, “Word by word we learn to connect.” I thought that was beautiful.
A little girl came up to us yesterday and said, “You teach us; we like you.” I don’t feel deserving of the high respect the students give me. I hope I can meet their expectations and teach them fulfilling topics here.
I’m quite enjoying my sacred time here.