Monday, 11 June 2012
May and Back
I’m back! And there’s no way I describe every city, monument, palace and museum we saw so I broke down some of the highlights of our month long trip through Southern India and Darjeeling. I missed the Oscar’s this year so this is my version.
Goa: The fact that it was off season at this beach paradise may have made this an extra relaxing place. Hearing the crashing of the biggest waves I’ve been in while seeing nothing but water and sand was the perfect way to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of the Indian city streets. The beauty of Goa rivals the beaches of the Caribbean, but nothing matches that actual warm, clean water of Goa making for perfect swimming conditions. The prawns, crab, squid, and endless other seafood options also made one of the tastiest places.
Favorite Historical Site
The Ajanta Caves: These 26 caves were built over 2,000 years ago by Buddhist monks and were untouched for hundreds of years until the British East India Company stumbled upon them while tiger hunting in the 19th century. Miraculously the detailed paintings and carvings still remain intact making for quite the sight. Knowing that people many years ago constructed such a masterpiece with ancient tools makes this a truly one of a kind place.
Mumbai: I’ve never been one for big cities so when heading to Mumbai I was leery about how this densely populated place would be. What I saw during our short stay really impressed me from the Gateway to India that lies on the Arabian Sea to the fantastic Prince of Wales Museum. The architecture that was brought by the English mostly during the 19th century was magnificent and made me feel like I was in London with Palm trees. I also got see the movie the Lorax in here, which might be the first and only time I’ll get to see an American film in theaters. I strongly recommend both Mumbai and the Lorax, preferably together.
Kerala: This was a tough choice with the hill station of Darjeeling in a close second (I could go on for days about Darjeeling). In Kerala we spent a week being guided through the southeastern state by Kerala’a own, Fr. Joe Paul from Holy Cross. We started at the beautiful Lighthouse Beach in Kovalem to watch the sunset, and this was extra special since that morning we watched the sunrise in nearby Kenyakumari, which is the southernmost point of India. Then after some museum, art gallery, and zoo tours we headed to the houseboat to spend two days and a night eating like kings while taking in some breathtaking views. That day on the water was one I’ll never forget. Finally we spent the last few days with Fr. Joe Paul’s family in northern Kerala where we explored the natural beauty of the local waterfalls, elephant rides, and the stunning hill stations teeming with tea gardens. Sharing this experience with Fr. Joe Paul’s nieces and nephews, who we lived with for four of the days, made this an extra special part of the trip that made me extra excited to get back to the classroom to see my students.
The entire trip was comprised of a couple of boats, three train rides (one which was 36 hrs long), five flights, over ten bus rides, and countless taxis and auto rickshaws along with a few other places not previously mentioned; Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Aurangabad, Pune, Pondicherry, and Kolkata.
Traveling was fantastic, but I’m happier than ever to be back in the classroom with my students. Having several months of teaching under my belt I think I’ve started to learn what is and isn’t affective in classroom making me motivated to improve the way I teach. At the Holy Cross School we have been fortunate enough to get what is called Smart Class (or smart boards), which allow you to project you own presentations or premade animations and videos that liven up any subject matter. I’m definitely going to start making a better effort to incorporate this into my lesson plans along trying to get more students involved in class participation. Previously I’ve only asked students to volunteer to answer questions, but I’ve realized only the same handful of students raise their hands while the others are too shy or may have not done their homework. It’s simple enough (I feel somewhat I silly I didn’t start sooner but didn’t want to put students on the spot) that I now go up and down the rows for answers allowing even the most bashful students to share their answers while giving those who fail to complete their homework an incentive to put forth their best efforts.
I starting to feel more confident as a teacher since I feel that I’ve gotten to a point where I can critically access my flaws and then come up with better ways of teaching. I think improvements have been made so far and I think I can discover some other changes I can make for the better down the road as I know that I am far from a perfect teacher.