As the sun was beginning to break through the early morning clouds, two intrepid team members were preparing for the weekend of the month, Chennai Challenge Weekend Meeting 2!
First stop, picking up three more, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, team members before Yemma guided the convoy through the picturesque chase to our destination – THE LAIR, Beaudesert Park, Cannock! Brief greetings and hugs ensued as we all caught up on the latest news and project money exchanged hands.
Cathy, as always, inspired the team through her thought for the day, FACING FEARS. Carefully explaining how we all have individual fears that we deal with daily which we need to face head on. This is something which sometimes pushes us outside our comfort zones, which then begins to take the edge off the unease our fear brings us.
The Chennai Challenges leaders and Yemma then led us in Yelligiri skills sessions in order to prepare us for when we have to lead small groups of boys during our activity holiday. Suzanne’s team were given the challenge of making juggling balls (with a lack of mud for filling balloons!) followed by a fast track session of how to juggle not just two but three balls – which proved harder than Yemma and Joel made it sound and look!
Isaac, armed with maps and place names, gave a guided tour of Chennai. This included all the communities we visit whilst in India. Then step by step taking the team round a tour of the favourite food haunts of previous Chennai trips. Talking of food, nom, nom, nom… Cathy, the next Nigella Lawson (India style), had ensured we all experienced the joys (and spice!) of South Indian food. That evening we sat down to an amazing feast of; veg biryani, chilli paneer, sambar, butter chicken and a range of breads, which was eagerly and enthusiastically devoured by the team members. After which came the delights of gulab jamun, payasam and some other sugared sweet. Sarah, renowned for her sweet tooth, especially enjoyed this part of the meal!
Team building proved a high focus for the weekend, due to the fact this would be the last time we would all see the whole team before India! Rob, in all his teacher wisdom, had booked the team on the low ropes course ( an obstacle course with ropes!). Split into two teams (Isaac and Yemma’s team followed by Cathy and Rob’s) we each tackled the course in pairs. The challenge was on to complete the course in the fastest time possible. Times trials ensued… needless to say Yemma (55secs) and Isaac (1min15) completed the course as the fastest pair in their team! Highlight of this challenge was the water fight between Lydia and Suzie, Imogen’s amazing use of bottom along the rope bridge, Lizzie and ZamZam’s (Tamsin) navigation of the course with the added difficulty of a blindfold and Joel mastering the slack rope!
Finally the team were treated to a traditional Indian movie – Madarasapattinam! A story of forbidden love between a ‘brave man’ and english beauty formed in the year of Indian independence! This provided much entertainment, more so for the bad dubbing and fake acting! However gave new team members a chance to delve into more Indian culture.
Sleep was a sought after need which came easily to some, whilst others struggled with thin walls and noisy neighbours! Kieron especially found this, due to James and Barney’s impressive snoring abilities.
Early Sunday Morning began with an Indian tradition with Yemma giving the gift of happiness through the joys of bed coffee! Much to the pleasure of Nick, Charlie, Isaac and Cathy.
Todays thought came from Issac who facilitated a discussion on what kindness is. Our knowledgable team provided thought-provoking definitions which summed up the idea that kindness is an act which requires very little deliberation and one which is given without want of rewards. Isaac then gave our challenge of the week; to blog, tweet, facebook any act of kindness that they complete.
An enjoyable skills session was the knot tying leading to chariot building. Flo especially enjoyed this when Rob and Joel held her shoulder-high, unfortunately they lost the impression of ‘strong men’ when they tipped her forward, with her luckily rolling down Robs back, avoiding injury. (Here we may add that Flo is used to falls in India – why not ask her about her YMCA dance lift experience!) More skills sessions included balloon modelling and face painting (where there were some questionable giraffes!!)
The team was provided with more information about the effects of culture shock and reverse culture shock. Isaac explained how the difference in culture and the adjustment the team has to make can cause us to react in different ways. This includes; excitement, aggression, anxiety, concern over security and excessive eating. However it is also likely that there will be no effects.
Cathy again gave the team the opportunity to develop their linguistic skills – namely Tamil. During which the team were able to roleplay situations using only Tamil. Caitlin, as an Indian shopkeeper, was generous in her trade only to be refused her price and offered more! Which confused her greatly! The team now have the challenge to practice their Tamil vocabulary before the summer trip.
As with everything there is always a few who enjoy the opportunities to revisit their youth or shall we just call them ‘trouble makers’! Yemma and Lydia, who regularly enjoy a bit of banter with each other, finished off the weekend finding a less than useful way of using up the flour! From a distances amid a cloud of white emerged Lydia covered from head to toe in flour after egging on a competitive Yemma, who then also emerged whiter than white!
The weekend proved a great success due to the leaders dedication and organisation and the way in which this team have enjoyed the opportunity to bond together through a common goal and learn with each other! The weekend has increased growing excitement in all team members and has encouraged fundraising efforts. The realisation of the project has dawned on us and we now wait for our last meeting where we will finalise the loose ends!