loads of things

Last weekend I got to almost do something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s not that I didn’t get to do it, it’s just it wasn’t exactly 100% what I wanted to do. There was a TEDx event. The x stands for the fact that it wasn’t exactly a TED event, but an independently organized TED like event. TED conferences and lectures are some of the coolest talks ever. This one was also interesting. All of the talks were based around education, both nationally, in India, and internationally. There were several people from the US, even two from Teach for America. There is also a similar Teach for India here too.
There was also a big education conference called InspireED. It was amazing for several reasons. I had an ah-ha moment towards the end which I’ll leave for later on. Another amazing moment was when I realized how small the world is becoming. There’s a Teach for India, which is an equivalent for Teach for America. There were folks from Teach for America over here for the conference. Many folks were from the states from various organizations. One statement one of the speakers said was that everywhere says they need to work on their education system, that it’s the Achilles tendon of every country; very rarely will a country (except Finland) say that they have a great education system. It’s something that unites the world, crappy education systems that only educate the ones who can afford to go to privileged educational facilities. Throughout the conference I thought of various things that I could have implemented if I were still working at HCZ.
Last week also started the Ganpati (Ganesh) festival, which is extremely big here in Maharashtra. There are big Ganesh statues all over the city. They will be submerged on the 10th in the ocean. I have a really big problem with this due to the fact that some of them contain large amounts of Styrofoam. The submersion is also for a religious purpose. They’re quite exquisite. I ventured out into the Mumbai rains (which were back in full force) to Lalbagh where the biggest and most famous Ganpati is displayed. The lines are longer than the most famous ride at amusement parks. They had the same maze-like dividers. Due to the rain, there were significantly less people there than we were expecting. People apparently wait for hours to see this Ganpati. When you see him you’re supposed to make a wish. The only problem is that by the time you’re in front of him, people are pushing you to move on before you even get a good look or remember what your wish is. We went to 5 Ganpatis.
The thorn in my side continues to be my visa. I’m going to Mumbai on Friday to the FRRO office there (where my papers seem to be as well) to see my progress. I spoke with some Teach for India folks who are from the US who had the same problem. Apparently as long as you’ve submitted your papers you’re fine. However, that “fine” is only if you plan on staying in the country. There’s proof in their system that you’ve filed for an extension. However, if I want to leave the country and I still don’t have my extension, I will run into issues. We’re going to figure everything out by Friday. Needless to say I’m a little stressed.
Yesterday was a marvelous day. Here, there’s a thing called Teachers’ Day, which is widely celebrated. We distributed little gifts and cards to our teachers, kids who saw me wished me happy teachers’ day. Recognition has an amazing feeling. The best feeling came when I went to my capoeira class. My students made me a big card which they all signed and wrote little notes on. It was awesome. We all went out for food afterwards. It’s changed many of their lives so much already, in only two or three months. Many of them spoke about how it’s brought them friends, how they’re trying things they never would have in the past, how they’re pushing themselves in different ways, how they’re finding Pune a happier place to live, how they’ve just been growing as people, and yes, I get to talk about myself for a second, they’re happy I’m their teacher. It’s a big ego boost; it made me feel great. I’ll leave it there for now. To all those unrecognized teachers out there, happy belated Teachers’ Day.

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