For the first couple of days in Loni we spent our time visiting the many schools available to the students here. Through the number of schools alone it is very clear that aside from agriculture, education is something that is very important to the people in this township. The schools we visited included English medium schools, Marathi medium schools, finishing schools for girls, pharmacy college, deaf, dumb and blind school, military school, as well as a few others.
Regardless of the school that we were at every student was very well behaved. These students stood up immediately after we walked into the room, they spoke to their teachers and the principle with respect, and they ate their meals in the mess in complete silence. The best part about visiting these school was the excitement that the littler kids got when we waved to them. They were all very shy to talk to us on our first visits, but at the same time they were very curious.
Yesterday we were asked to join the English medium school for a special celebration, which involved an assembly, games, and no classes for the whole day. We started out by going to the assembly where I spoke shortly on the education in the US with two other girls. Walking into this assembly I would have guessed I was at the military school because of the way they were arranged in perfect lines and how attentive they were throughout the whole proceedings. Although this was probably stemming from the tradition this school has of calling on two random students at the end of the assembly to answer two questions about what was said during the assembly (I am so glad this never happened at my school).
After the assembly we were each placed in a classroom where we were asked to interact with the students. To my surprise these students pretty much grilled us on anything and everything they could think of. I got questions ranging from how much I like Justin Beiber to who I thought should win the next presidential election and why. The Justin Beiber question was easy, but coming from a culture where your opinion on the next presidential election is very seldom asked because of the potential to start a verbal boxing match I was very torn about how to answer or if I should answer at all.
Halfway through this Q and A session three boys came around to our classroom shouting about the cricket match that was due to start, with excitement. While three students in jerseys got up to exit the room two other students looked over to shush the sudden interruption, so they could quickly get back to drilling me about what I thought about their culture and what qualities the US is looking for in Indian students who want to get a visa to study in the US. Little did I know that when the cricket match started my fellow interns left with the rest of the class that they were in to watch all the field day activities. Finally a teacher came around and told the inquistive students that it was time for us to go outside with everyone else (I'm not gonna lie, I was relieved to be rescued from what felt like a pop quiz with all trick questions).
During the field activities the girls invited me to play basketball, which turned into these beautiful little girls surrounding me and asking me about my opinions of their culture, my family, and whether I had time ot see a movie with them. I absolutely loved their enthusiasm even after the first monsoon started in the middle of field day. At first they suggested we go inside, but when I mentioned that it was raining like it did at home for me they were all intently listening to me again until we were all soaked. After finally going inside the teachers told us that they also stayed in the rain to watch a couple of the other interns play basketball.
The day ended with the six of us girls in the program shuffled into the same bathroom, not sure why we were in their we decided to take a photoshoot of the effects of the first monsoon (turns out they sent us in there to dry off and clean up a little before lunch, but we were having way too much fun for that). The whole experience was great and to top it off we were soaking wet from head to toe.