Christmas Time

Another week has just gone by. Christmas is knocking at the door so the rush in the local shopping malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets has reached its peak. Wait a minute, I’ve just realized that we don’t have here even the tiniest grocery store. So I should start again - Christmas (or any other) rush doesn’t effect us at all. Christmas time here is more about fun and pleasure, after all we’re among Buddhists so we adjust to the local traditions. The celebration of Christmas Eve is therefore going to be more like a party for the locals and kids. So, we will at least distribute some gifts during the day - or rather the kids will exchange gifts among themselves. As early as last week they drew the tickets with names of their friends whom they will make some little gifts for. That’s by the way the only way why was the last week different from the others. As for the school, teaching and the kids there are still no problems so I don’t think it’s necessary to write again and again about our schooldays. But still there’s one thing that really surprised me when I was reviewing the adding, subtraction and multiplication with the second degree kids. As I wrote the exercise I told the kids that there were also few examples of division which we had only touched upon but which as they knew is only the opposite of multiplication and therefore they might try to work them out. Wow...two kids were able to figure out all of the exercises even thought they knew almost nothing about division - they just understood that division is interconnected with multiplication and they found a way how to solve it! Maybe you don’t see why I am so enthused by it but you have to realize that the Indian way of education does not emphasize how to learn to think but is purely about memorizing. And what the kids have done with the division exercise was the very example of logical and independent judgment. Even though I try to put the accent on thinking I did not expect such good results after such a short time. Well, after all you see that there’s still something going on here :)

The weather was playing the game of hide and seek with us this week, well not really the weather, just sun. It also means that we have experienced one of the coldest weeks so far but it did not affect the teaching in any way. To sum it up - it was snowing constant ly for three days, for two days it was moreover very windy and the weather was getting ready for it for another three days. That’s my definition of constant overcast and cloudy. But on Sunday which was our only free day this week the sun showed up in the end. Finally I managed to have a shower and to feel like a human being again. Also we (me and Pyru) had a chance to test our crampons, snowshoes and ice axes on the frozen river to get it ready for the hard Chadar hike down to the valley.

As for any other events - besides the movie night on Wednesday there was an exhausting meeting with the fathers (board of the elders) which I attended on Monday evening. In addition to many other things we also found out that the fathers still do not fully understand what the word “co-operation” means, so, there is still a lot to be done in the future. But it’s not really surprising because the local mentality is so different from ours that it would be foolish to expect full understanding after such a short time. But we heard positive news as well - for example we were told that the high quality of our school has already become renowned throughout whole Zanskar. We should therefore expect influx of kids interested to study in our school. To deal with higher number of kids and the capacity of the school will be a challenge for the teacher who will come here after me.

We also went on with the visits to the families of our students. We were again treated with many delicious meals and we also had a chance to see how the local “health service” works. I was wordless when they explained to me that they treat their kids bad tooth with kerosene. After a while I was only able to tell them to send the boy to me the following day if he still has toothache (and no more kerosene, I added).

That’s all as for this week events so I stop here. You’ll hear from me next week...well, maybe you won’t because I’ve just realized that we have holiday next week so we will do some hiking and probably won’t get to the email. See you next year then :)

For all the teachers here I wish you merry Christmas and happy New Year!


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