a thousand words.

3rd grade boys.
9th grade girls.

Amarnath, Devraj, and Bharat Kumar, my 4th grade boys.
Melissa, doing the laundry on our porch
the school. cycling.
lesson plans in the staff room.

wish I could post more. work on these for a moment. love you all.


happy father's day.

one picture featured in Business Outlook India. please read.

I shall forever be fond of my time spent in Hosur, a 30-minute car drive from the rural fields of Shanti Bhavan. As I slide my sandals off to walk into the quaint little Internet cafe, the ceiling fans circulate the smell of dust and Philips PCs, and I think of all of you. Not a day goes by that I don't think of home, dream of home. Each morning my vivid dreams of home are shattered by the amazing reality of my thin mattress, the metal dish underneath my breakfast, and my unruly curls tucked into a plain pony-tail. Each time I visit Hosur, log onto this little machine and read your sweet words (e-mails, comments), I cry. I miss you all. The dirt that covers the tile beneath my feet is comforting, and the Indian men arguing in Tamil are in the background as I muse about what I should tell you. Again, no pictures, but I am promising for next week. Can I do that? I will try my best to keep that promise.

Should I tell you, for instance, about Bharat Kumar, my latest obsession. He is the sweetest little 4th grader and one of 200 reasons I wake up in the morning. He's sweet and funny, popular among the other boys. He is happy one minute kicking the soccer ball, and just as delighted the next moment twirling in the dirt field completely alone. He knows I love him, and he loves me back. I wouldn't think twice about bringing him home with me in 2 months if I could. He is so easy to love. They all are. If there are any doubts out there as to whether "for such is the kingdom of heaven" is true--I can tell you it is. I don't spend much time with kids in America, but I assure you these are true children. And when I come to the city I see so many other children. They are just as beautiful, and I see my kids, Shanti Bhavan kids, in them. And I see them in SB kids. The "problem" of education is so huge and overwhelming.

I am so grateful Melissa is here with me and painfully scorn the day she leaves me forever to go to medical school in Michigan. She is such a comfort and the kids love Miss Melissa. We have a new roommate, Justine. She's sweet and small, her parents are French and British, born in New Zealand, lived her whole life in Chennai (a city on the east coast of the state I'm in), and goes to an arts school in California. She is a true international. And the other volunteers are wonderful, too. I am getting to know what life is like in India with Indians, as well as what life is like outside of Utah, with other Americans.

The kids are so wonderful, and ask about you--my family, friends, old teachers, strangers, anything at home--all the time. They are amazed at my "torch" (flashlight) and want to know "how we should press it?" That gives you an idea of their innocence. Although they all started singing "What time is it?" from HSM 2 to me the other day.

before we left, my mom was reading us an essay by Jane Addams, one of my Progressive Era heroes. It talked about how parents bring up their children to want to help the world, but when they want to go abroad, they are too scared and want them to stay home. (that's like the cheerio version of it) but I just want to say thanks to my dad on Father's Day. I am so grateful that he supports my endeavors. He is such a great dad and I love him.

Until next week.


the details.

sorry, no pictures. I know. I'm the worst. I'll try, I promise. at an internet cafe now, and I'm not sure how things work. I will surely ask around and see what I can do for next week.

I am so grateful for all your kind comments. perhaps you have an idea of what it means to me, a million miles away, but so close to you as I read your responses to my thoughts. I am no longer in isolation. no man is an island.

on Saturday, I assigned my 6 grade civics class to write a paragraph about a community they belong to and their role in it (community = family, class, school, state, country, etc.) Rahul, a bright and beautiful boy wrote something that touched me to the core: "the community I belong to is my family. I chose my family as a community because they'll always be with me. in that community my part is that I am my mom's son. my family is not so big. in my community I have a mom, aunt, uncle and me. in my community my mom always tells me 'you're the only one that can help our family, so please study hard and get high marks in your exams.'" he is such a sweetheart. and all the children are. I feel so atttached to them.

I wish I could snapshot every one of them and tell you about their mannerisms, their jokes, their laughtre. I love grades 6,7,8,9--jr. high--who knew?! sometimes, when I feel like my heart is going to explode, I think of Christ's love. I know only a glimpse, a sliver of his perspective. but that bursting inside me at times seems like more than I can bear.

there is so much I want to write. every moment here at Shanti Bhavan is worth preserving. and it's getting harder to each day. with classes, grading, and extra curricular, I am getting busier. but it's also becoming harder with the passing of time. I am getting used to things here--which is wonderful--but I fear I am losing my sense of wonder and atonishment at it all.

I walked to breakfast this morning, and couldn't help but think this is how life should be. I love it here, although I miss home. I feel I have the best of both worlds.

those 6, 7, 8 graders. they are priceless. they admire me yet respect me. they don't know how incompetent I am, yet they still want to see my hair down, and want me to tell them the color of their eyes....brown, brown, dark brown, brown, brown.... they want to show me their drawings, every one of them, yet the don't need discipline like the 4 and 5 graders. their hearts are still young and innocent, but their minds are bright and their behavior nearly perfect--but not too perfect like the 10th graders who sit and stare at me.

everything, when I think of it, is a wonder. I want to write an essay or a blog pot on every single detail. I am afraid I will forget the water, how it tastes sweet but still refreshing. the names, perhaps if I met one or two of them in the U.S. I could get them down, but 200 at a time is overwhelming to say the least. the frogs, snakes, lizards. the crows---oh the crows. and the other various birds. their sounds wake me in the morning and lullabye in the evening. my room, the news, the smell of my bathroom, the songs the children play on the school piano (fyi: Enrique Iglesias and the love ballads from Titanic :), the soft gushy mangoes--sometimes sweet sometimes sour. the way it feels to read Life of Pi while in India. each child:

Chandra, from 5 grade, he cries and weeps and BEGS you to call on him..."please Miss! please, please, oh plee-hee-hee-hease!" I just have to bust out laughing at him.
or Vijay, his more energetic counterpart, jumping up and down waving his arms like he is a flagging down a Boeing 747.
or Bharat, the 10-year-old Indian embodiment of Barack Obama--who sits quietly in his desk, knows every answer, and is my only relief in 5 grade social studies.
then there's Sujatha and Manjula, the 8th grade Indian Bobsy twins. smart and capable, but too beautiful and bored for their own good.
leaving out Aischwurya, my brilliant and long-legged outcast who holds her own.
even againt Vijay, loud-mouthed and bright-eyed.
and Babu, quiet and skinny, ahead of the rest in the 8 grade.
and Tangaraj and Puneeth, the cutest, dimpled-est, sweetest of the mall.
Tang is quet , but got so fired up in our debate over Indian foreign policy. like a true Indian, using his hands angrily, but no harm done.
Puneeth's birthday is tomorrow. he is turning 12. he's in the 8th grade!
and lastly, ManjuKumar. he is a mixture of them all. curious about the world, he doesn't know much...but he's more than willing to grab the encyclopedia or raise his hand to ask a question.
and in fourth grade, John Joseph. sparky and smiley. schmoozing his 8-year-old-self into my heart.
along with Vishwasagar. oh. my heart. my smile. me eyes filled with tears just thinking of his big--HUGE--brown eyes. and his eyes are there, but his mind is elsewhere. I don't know where. he draws excellently and cried aloud when John Joseph threw his shoe in the dirt. so sweet!
and as soon as I say, "Oh I love those elephants you drew!" I must dazzle and gasp at Amarnath's monkeys and Crowncy's fence and Shiney's river.

I am enjoying being me here. I want to understand what it means to be amy in India. so far, I am an outsider, an American, a Mormon--all moreso than I am in America, or in Utah. there's so much more I want to say. but I have not the time to say it. I'm also afraid I have not the words to explain the way the breeze blows, or how the children's voices are constantly echoing in the halls of the open-roofed school, or how the nats surround me 24/7, or how my shower gets TOO hot because the water is heated by solar energy outside the school, or how they eat with their hands--curry up to their knuckles, or how my laundry smells after it is handwashed and dried on a big rock, or how I take my 'rubbish' to the trash area where they burn it, leaving the smell of ash and campfire ( just what I wanted!) permeating in my bedroom. I'm afraid I can't do it justice--and you'll all just have to meet me here. please.

I have been here 8 days and as is to be expected, India has changed me for good.


greetings from India.

greetings to all from India! my thoughts are racing and there is SO much I want to tell right now. I have also taken a slew of photos, but am afraid all I have to offer today are words. (I know...photos are what you want to see!)

the last 5 days have been some of the most valuable of my entire life. living inside of Utah for my entire life has provided the best blank canvas the colors of India have ever seen. and so far, the colors are bright as well as dark. I am baffled by my experiences so far. I am overjoyed to be here, but my tears are salty as I think of you all now. oh, how I miss home. my hunger for camping has been completely satiated. :)

june 3
I am writing in the dark of a 5 a.m. India morning. we walked out of the air port to see a row of Indian men holding signs. one says "The George Foundation, Shanti Bhavan." we greet him and he smiles. He seems genuinely happy to see us--surprised even. he has a great smile and is stronger than the other men we have seen so far. there have been dozens of them in the 30 minutes we have been at the airport. they stand in groups with no purpose apparent to me, although they are wearing unifroms and nametags. we walk and the air is wet. not like in South Carolina or California though. the feel of it overwhelms me and I am crying.

honking, every 3 or 4 seconds. whoever honks has the right of way, but the horns are less harsh than in the States--as if only to say "I'm here!" on the streets, nothing is straight or in grids. where there is not a building, highway, or billboard, something grows. swamps too. the city is just waking and there are few women out. the sky reminds me of home in St. George, morning light breaking through puffy gray clouds. I feel completely safe in this stranger's car until I see a misquito.

I couldn't have anticipate dthis world. if I had to go home right now, these last few hours would have been worht it. but I feel as though I never want to leave.

I know it is pretty cliche to say--bu it feels like a movie. I suppose movies are of life. so this feels like life at it's very best. the people are breathtakingly beautiful. but the ones we passed today are very poor. in the city, there seems to be no regard for cleanliness or order. and some of them are richer looking (or at least driving cars or working). but others are squatting, walking in bare feet, carrying bundles of sticks or water on their heads, and hanging out of the backs of trucks going 70 mph. stray dogs, goats, chicken, everywhere. cows, however, are on ropes.

frogs, lizards, spiders, bugs of all manner are accompanying Melissa and I in our room. our room as 2 metal freame beds with mattresses, and one without a mattress for a bench, a tin cabinet, and a desk. we also have a bathroom with running water, toilet, and shower and a nice patio in the back. I am not uncomfortable in the least.

today, june 5
I am teaching civics (social sciences) for grades 4-10. Indian civics. do I know anything about Indian civics? no. I also teaching writing classes in grades 8-12. my most exciting piece of news: I will be reading To Kill A Mockingbird again this summer, in the company of my 8th grade Indian literature class. I am thrilled. Melissa is teaching science, grammar, reading, spelling, and dance in the younger grades. I get to attend her dance class and it is SO fun. the kids are hilarious. they get the giggles so badly!

the children are so beautiful. they have bright eyes and even brighter smiles, and their energy wears us out each day. their minds are bright, too. Shanti Bhavan is no Slumdog Millionaire (from what I've heard of the film :) it is somewhere near the middle of nowhere--in rural India. we are surrounded by palm trees and plants of every kind. Shanti Bhavan means Haven of Peace--and it truly is. I feel it every time I go outside there. the peace is as thick and as wet as the air is on your skin. and Melissa and I are so glad to be here. they are keeping us very busy.

I am still adjusting to the time here--haven't slept an entire night yet. I continue to dream of home each night and have to consciously remind myself where I am each morning. the food is agreeing with us (besides the nasty malaria pill we have to take every night), and we are positive we are wasting away with rice 3 times a day.

I can't tell you what a different world this is. I couldn't have anticipated more of a whirlwind of emotions. I have so much more to say. and will find time to say it. for now, I am viewing myself in this completely different world.


bon voyage.

a photo journalism student, Amiran White from the UK won the Sony Photographer of the Year award for taking this photo at Shanti Bhavan.

lift off is nearing and I have Goodbye Earl in my head. morbid, right? but yes. I'm off to India. posting will be sparse, I have little expectations; I'm trying to go across the planet with an open mind.

all along, I've been asking Molly what to expect, so I can anticipate every needful thing. but now that it's time and I've had time, I'm thinking trying to guess exactly what 3 months in India is going to be like...is probably going to inhibit my ability to adapt. so I'm doing my best to open my mind--stop estimating and approximate the unknown.

I have this thing where the night before a big day (or even just a busy day), I stay up late and gather everything I need as much as possible. organize my hand sanitizer and passport. arrange my thoughts, plans, apprehensions, goals. on most of those nights, I wish so badly that I could just fast forward through sleeping time so that I wouldn't have to reacquaint myself with the orderly day ahead of me. if only right now was awake tomorrow.

in some ways, I have been feeling that way about life in general. I most definitely wanted to fast forward these last few weeks of Gilmore Girls and preparations so I could arrive at India, my big day. the biggest, probably. also, I have sort of been feeling that way about the transition from India to Fall semester back at the Y. not that my 3-month dream-come-true-of-a-trip to India is boring or anything like sleeping. and also not that I want to fast -forward through it, or that I want it to be over with. I think I am just excited for (1) fall semester in general and (2) having something, this thing, under my belt.

it's not that I want it on my resume. but part of me wants to be relevant. most of my entire waking existence has wanted to be more than relevant, even famous or worthy of fame. but college has taught me to love a simple life. to cherish blending in and being crowded out. I have learned to appreciate going unnoticed. and I hope I will be able to in India--go unnoticed. what have been 2 polar opposites has become middle ground. my golden mean, then, is halting the quest for fame and reaching for relevance--in the sense that I can help someone.

so far, I've had a summer of stuff. moved out of my tiny apartment in Provo, packing my dad's car chuck-full of stuff, then moving it into garage/basement/bedroom to be sorted and priced for last weekend's garage sale. you should have seen me at my garage sale. I was clinging on to my stuff like it was the last and only stuff I would ever have. charging $4-$5 for my old GenX shirts--not good garage sale technique. and when someone offered me $3 for it? no way. I paid $20 for that shirt! are you out of your mind?! (for the record--I had fun at the garage sale, but would never do it again. I can't barter and. ahem. can't let go of my stuff). the driveway is cleaned up and the old Forever 21 gear I wanted $5 for is waiting patiently at the D.I.

now, though, I am packing. trying ever so hard to fit as much stuff as possible in a ridiculous limit of 50 lbs. here I am, hugging my bookcase and ogling my journals while simulatenously taking out my mouthwash and hand sanitizer with reluctance to make the airline weight limit. I love my stuff. and here I am, trying to solve the ills of poverty in rural India, and bringing a set of Japanese colored pens and my external Passport hard drive. and my night-before-jitters have me thinking of all the stuff I want to fill my new apartment with in the fall.

I'm not sure what my point is. but I know it's not that I feel guilty or ashamed of my stuff. and it's not that I wish I had less stuff or more stuff. I've just noticed how much I love my stuff. I don't think 3 months is going to change that. but it's just something I've been thinking about. my sister and I bought a battery-powered charger for our iPods at Target, after which we read in iPods for Dummies that such generic power adapters can fry your iPod. asking my dad his advice, he mentioned that perhaps we are trying to take too much stuff. we're trying to escape to the outside world even though our whole point was to have a personal, first-hand, outside experience. taking it in is more important than the stuff.

nonetheless, bon voyage. you shall hear from me soon, and I shall miss you.

please, an invitation to all (people I know, people who I don't know in real life, people who don't know I look at their blogs, etc.): make a comment or e-mail mcdonaldamy89@gmail.com with your mailing address and I promise to send you a postcard.


during the shuffle of stuff coming in and stuff coming out, Melissa organized all her journals. I didn't count, but there were so many! the stack of journals in this photo is probably from 1 year of her life. I just love all those journals.

little book of envelopes.

I thought I would post a few pictures of a little book I made for Megan. I completely got the idea from oh, hello friend's envelope book. when Megan was engaged, I would watch her with her new fiance, and when I was away from St. George I would hear of cute things that they were doing together and I thought she should have some sort of documentation of all that--at least what I could remember and see. So each envelope just has a memory or a journal entry of mine throughout their engagement from my perspective.