I was having a quick chat with the Chennai Challenge team photo this morning when…
Just kidding guys – I haven’t reached the talking-to-photos stage of reverse culture shock…yet!
I am missing Chennai and the team though, but funny everyday things remind me of the summer – like if anyone says “totes” or “parred!”. I was face painting at a church social evening thing last night, but nobody wanted to be a tiger. Last week, me and Megan went on a school trip to Symphony Hall, but the sing-song on the mini-bus didn’t include “who’s the king of the jungle” – although Megan did try!
I had the longest article in the school newsletter last week about Chennai Challenge – 2 sides and 5 lovely big colourful pictures! This week, my primary school have asked me to pop in as class 3 are starting a project about India! I’m taking photos and Indian sweets, I’ll wear a chuddidar and teach them some of the songs and games we did with the Kottivakam boys, ooh and maybe a bit of Tamil! In a couple of weeks, I’m filling in the Cubs about India and how the money I raised from the Cubs chocolate hamper raffle may have affected children their own age in Chennai.
On Sunday, Emma and Rob are coming for India night at my youth group. It’s a bit like we’ve come full circle because this was sort of how I first heard of Chennai Challenge – Rob showing photos and selling jewelry at PYGS. I was 13 or 14 then, I took a leaflet but didn’t really expect that I’d actually go to Chennai and return with so many photos, friends and memories.
Starting 6th form has been fun and very busy! Lots of teachers asked about what I’d been doing in India. I hadn’t told alot of them that I was even going, so I wasn’t sure how they all knew! Most of them said they were jealous as they’d had a boring summer and have always wanted to volunteer abroad with a charity like this. I told them to look at this website and to just go for it! I think it’s dead funny, looking back to last winter, to think about when I was sat in the car outside Rob and Cathy’s house with my application form on my lap, debating with myself about whether I could really do it – push the envelope through the door and go to Chennai. I am so sooo glad now that I did.
I can’t believe there’s only one week of this amazing Indian adventure left – I’ve become so used to the smells (good and bad!), the food (although that sneaky western meal in pizza hut yesterday was lush!) and the noise of the traffic, the auto-rickshaws and the honking car horns!
There’s so many brilliant people I’ve met here:The children at the after-school club in the slum areas asked us to return after only 1 hour of us playing with them. The students in the Oasis English class are my age and older but its been a great experience working with them and encouraging them with their learning.
Then, of course, is the boys in Kottivakam YMCA Boys Town. They are always so full of smiles, energy, and appreciation; they always eager to listen and learn. It’s been a privilege to give them the time and opportunity to be children and play!
And now’s time for the Chennai Challenge team – what can I say! Many of us have mentioned how close we are, what strong friendships we have developed – and how we have become like family. I can’t wait for what the rest of this week has in store; anything could happen because we guarantee nothing!
Vanakam! Today is our midpoint, our hump day, our half way point in our time in Chennai! It has been a totally amazing adventure so far, and I can’t wait for the up coming days: spending even more time with the boys in YMCA boys town at Kottivakam, for leading our second English class with Oasis students and our next after school session at Blue Edge.
Highlights of the trip so far have certainly got to include the four day activity holiday we led in the Yellagiri hills for the boys from Kottivakam boys town. We, the chennai challenge team, enjoyed running the sports, games, crafts and songs with the boys. We split into seperate teams; Suzanne and I led Orange team – the orange tigers (roar!) and were almost as excited as the boys themselves when they won the overall points score at the end of the few days.
Some boys wanted to give their crafts,drawings, and sweets to members of the Chennai Challenge team, telling us it was a “reminder of them” – they were so appreciative of us just being there to laugh, listen, play and talk with them. What they may not have realised is that we could never forget them anyway! Working with them has enabled me to learn so much and given me much more confidence in working with people and especially children.
I’m blogging form a lovely toasty internet cafe with a stomach full of mushroom biryani and watermelon juice! Bliss! Emma says we have to go now! So, so long, farewell, adios amigos!
I’m sat in my Chennai Challenge polo shirt after an Indian lunch – it was mainly microwave meals but it is situation I can’t wait to repeat in actual India with actual Indian food in August. So, I thought it was a good time to write a blog. This is now actually take-2, I lost my almost finished one so here I go again… but hey-ho!
Monday (4th June) was Russel Brand’s birthday, Flag day in Estonia, the Diamond jubilee concert at Buckingham palace but ALSO Family fun day at the Monckton Recreation Centre in Penkridge! People enjoyed a dance with Jo Jingles, a blue ice cream from Phil and a hot, fresh, tasty jacket potato from the Chennai challenge stall.
We became quite a smooth running production line, and raised £250 on jacket potatoes! My sisters were also busy slapping temporary tattoos onto passers-by (young and old!) and selling the greetings cards that Jackie brought back from her last visit to Chennai. Overall, the day was definitely a success and a huge thank you to everyone who came to buy a spud, and all those who helped run the stall.
Here’s a Short Recipe: Baked Jacket Potato. – that’s something i’ll have to try out one lunch!
I’ve also been busy at the youth drama club inn Wheaton Aston. I’ve set all the oompah loompah routines and Veruca Salt’s song – “I want it now”. Next week, i’ll be setting Grandpa Joe’s number “Think Positive”. I’ve really enjoyed helping out at my drama group, friends in my PE class who’ve seen me in aerobics would probably never think that I’d be choreographing 7-14 year olds!
So I suppose it really is all about “challenging you to exploring life outside your comfort zone” as stated in the Chennai challenge slogan. Except, I had to shorten it to “get out of your comfort zone” to fit on my silicon wrist bands. The reason I’m wearing my Chennai polo shirt is that I’m off for to sell raffle tickets and wrist bands at John Spillane’s gig tonight – I’ve just googled him and he must be famous because there’s a wikipedia page about him!
Maybe I can get him to RT me like the lovely
@milwiveschoir did! Ooh and they’ve got a wikipedia page about them too! Maybe with enough RT’s, chennai challenge could get a wiki page one day
Very excited about this, my first blog! Almost as excited as when @RealJeanMartyn, of Britain’s Got Talent fame, tweeted back to me!!! :-O I think I’m getting the hand of twitter – I’m a quarter of the way towards my 200 follower target for Easter!
I learnt the tricks of Twitter at the Chennai Challenge weekend in London’s Indian YMCA – amongst other things such as wearing saris (well, I wore a lungi..), fundraising tips, whats jabs to get (euggh!), UN rights of a child, managing behaviour, playing games and learning Tamil (think I’m gonna need to make some Tamil posters to stick by my bathroom mirror and on the back of the door!)
I really enjoyed the London Weekend – getting to know the team and what we’ll be doing in India. The years going so fast – I figured it’s probably time I take my glee advent calendar down from my room – and before we know it we’ll be blogging from Chennai! But for now, it’s fundraising time!
So listen out for Penkridge’s India night to come - it’ll be the place to be! I’ve started helping at the Village Youth Theatre Company too – choreographing oompah loompah’s and the like to transform Wheaton Aston Village hall into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! I’m putting the money earned straight onto this fabulous website: http://justgiving.com/marypalmer
@marypalmer292 (<—-no spaces or capital letters and that’s not included in the name)