Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 22: "My favorite thing is flying."

Today was full of varied, engaging, rich learning.

After reading Sonnet 22, which is basically a distilled definition of the term "soulmate," I reread another piece of literature important to me of late. On the morning I met Jessie (last Wednesday), a sheet of paper hanging in her room caught my eye. I skimmed it and asked if I could make a copy of it. Since I was in a really good mood at the time, it really resonated with me, because it described perfectly the way I was feeling. I have reread it every day since then, and perhaps the effect it claims to have has really been working?! That or I have just been blessed by almost unreal experiences and unbelievable people these past few days. Either way, it's worth a look:

I hopped on the metro toward Eastern Market. On the way, I read an Economist book review of Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, as well as an article on The great schools revolution. Both pieces are applicable to me as a teen and also as an intern for Sasha Bruce, an agency which works primarily with youth and their families through its numerous programs.

Speaking of SBY's programs, today was Intern Program Orientation day!! What this meant was that a group of interns walked, drove, and sweated across the city, visiting the sites of ten of the agency's programs and getting a chance to talk to each site coordinator. What a neat field trip! Stops included REACH and Chloe House (homes for court-committed boys and girls respectively), Olaiya's Cradle (a home for teen mothers), Sasha Bruce House (a 24-hour crisis shelter for runaway youth), and the Independent Living Program. Each site coordinator explained to us the criteria for being accepted to the house, the living arrangements of the space, and the lifestyle of each person living there. We also learned more about third party monitoring, family counseling, sexual health education, and outreach in schools.

At Bruce House (for court-committed boys), we got to see a mural that President Obama helped paint on the day before his inauguration!

After our day of orientation, Ashley Crawford (Davidson '11) and I headed to Union Station to get home. From the train, I called Hassan "Uncle," who works for Yellow Cab (and shares an ancestral village in Pakistan with Papa!), and asked him if he could take me to pick up Priya from school. We got to catch up and I told him about my plans for the year while he updated me on what his family is up to.

A quick snack at home, and I was ready for my next adventure! Tonight was Back-to-School Night for the Newton School (, an untraditional place of learning founded by the family of one of my most influential teachers and mentors, Mr. Abraham. The impressive school integrates motion and hands-on activities into lower and middle school curricula to make them more effective and understandable for students with varied learning styles. I have been meaning to visit the school for a while now, to catch up with Mr. Abraham and compare notes on their approach as compared to that of Gyaan Ghar, and I am so glad I finally did! The philosophy is simple -- kids like to move! Passing through a cheery reception, I came to a room which could basically be described as children's heaven. Thick padding covers the floor and walls, allowing students to enjoy the swings, wheels, and balls flying every which way to their full extent. Trampolines and obstacle courses abound. The classrooms are darling, and the ways in which motion is incorporated into "normal" lessons is awesome. Dance, Tae Kwon Do, and Yoga are parts of the students' daily schedule, with music and art used therapeutically as well. I certainly have gained a lot of new ideas to be applied back in India, and I also hope to coordinate a pen pal program between the students of Newton and those of Gyaan Ghar.

Making this long overdue visit was a great way to end the day, but not as good as doing Mama's nails. Now I am ready for bed.

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