Tuesday, June 30, 2015

July 1, 2015

I write this as we are on the 3 hour bus ride between Timbaktu and Bangalore. This will be our final entry from India until we return home. Ross or Erin from WLS will most likely update it as we are traveling. We are on our way to a shopping area and outdoor market to look for souvieners and gifts. Some of us are excited because Maddy promised us meat at lunch and dinner. We will return to Vistar for a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport.

To the parents:
We are not bringing the same child home that you entrusted to us 2 weeks ago. They have experienced new things, formed new prospectives and gained new relationships. They learned new labor skills, gardening skills, tried new foods, and given and received love from elementary school children. They now have 21 new school friends. They also have 3 more adult mentors in Maddy, Susan, and Krishna, the World Leadership School team with us. Maddy, Susan and Krishna have taught us so much about leadership, India culture, getting along with others, and how to cope with issues. They have been excellent leaders and examples for all of us.

At the beginning of the trip we did an exercise where we imagined a target on the ground as we were standing in a circle. In the center was the place where we are most comfortable. On the outside was the place that was WAY out of our comfort zone. At some point on this trip all of us have been at both places. We have been stretched and pulled to lengths that we didn't think possible. Your children are stronger, wiser men and women today then they were two weeks ago. Thank you for your trust in allowing them to participate.

We will see you soon.

Greg Eubanks

June 30, 2015

Early mornings, no fans, the smell of cow poop, lots of rice but always smiling. 
We go into our last day here in Timbuktu. We get up and go to breakfast! Yum Yum, then Crosslin and I start the day with an icebreaker game and introduce todays schedule. Around 10:30 we walk over to the school and divide into our community project groups and begin to work!! The 3D Maze only has to dig and put cement in 3 more holes then we are done! We get to work, and finish around 12! The other group is finishing the stove. We all finish our projects and go and play with the kids and have an early lunch at 12:30. Spending time with the kids has been my absolute favorite thing this whole trip. The friendships I have made with some of these kids and the funny things they say and the fun times we have, make me very happy! Everyone here has such big hearts and are all so kind. In the afternoon, we began to pack, we got about 3 hours to organize and have down time. After that, we had a ceremony for the new stove. All the kids and our group met in the kitchen and celebrated. After that, Maddy (one of the leaders) told our group his leadership story. It was very inspiring and It was great to hear as we knew him but afterwards it felt like we really knew him as a person. Then, we got to draft our leadership stories which were going to be told today at our candle ceremony. Around 6 We went back over to the school with the kids and danced and celebrated being together one last time. We danced for hours and laughed. We ended up going way past dinner, like everyone says "time flies when your having fun!!" We got to dinner an hour late, and ate at 8:30. 
Hayden Lowe 
p.s. can't wait to see you family!!! <3 48 hours! 

Hello everyone!! Yesterday, we completed our last full day in India. This day consisted of finishing all of the community projects, taking part in the ceremony for the school's new stove, and finishing off the day with a dance celebration with the kids and teachers (and no squirrels crawling up my shirt). The celebration was definitely a highlight of my trip. Not only did we get to perform the Indian dances we learned over the course of the last week, but also got to throw some Western dances into the mix as well. After a late dinner, we capped off the week at Timbaktu by sharing leadership stories, then sharing the highlights of the entire trip in a candlelight circle. Although I'm so excited to come home to my friends, family, and American food, it was really bittersweet listening to everyone's favorite memories. We are currently on the bus back to Bangalore, where we will spend the rest of the day shopping, until returning to Visthar in the evening to shower and hopefully get a nap in before we leave at 11pm for the airport! This trip has been an incredible experience, and I can't wait to come home and share it with you all! See you in 48 hours!

Crosslin Archdeacon 
Bablu, the founder of the Timbaktu Collective, visited with us Monday morning.

Monday, June 29, 2015

This morning the 3D Maze group NEARLY finished our maze and we are soooooooooooooo happy about it. We have been working on it for every morning that we've been doing the Community Projects. Originally we thought that the maze would be the easiest job, but it became a lot of work when we realized we had to do the math to find out where we could place the maze and we had to redo the maze but we are so close to finishing it. Some of us saw some kids playing in it yesterday during their free time, and we were really glad we made something that we can watch them use. After community projects, we spent the afternoon with the kids for the last time during our trip, which made us sad that we won't be able to hang out and bond with them anymore. During ANCHOR before dinner, we all realized that it was almost our last day together. Susan said "this is the last ANCHOR we will do this trip" and everyone screamed "NO!!!!!!! WE HAVE TO DO ANOTHER ONE" so it has been decided that we are gonna do them every night before the trip ends. We have all bonded so much and some of us realized last night that we weren't friends before this trip and we fell like we've been friends our entire lives and it was a really weird realization. We've already been planning group outings and "dates" between us all on days that we are in Nashville at the same times.
 Lately, everyone is trying to figure out how much food we can eat and how many places we can hit on July 3. Everyone is excited to be home soon in our own beds and excited to have some alone time, but really really sad that we aren't going to all be together to enjoy the AC and American food. We're going to text in the group text and we have millions of inside jokes that will be funny for ages and we won't ever forget. We know we still have 2 more days in India and a ton of time to chat on the planes, but we've been "mourning" (Stage 5 of a group on a trip) all day/night. We did some sleep Yoga last night before bed on the roof of the hexagon and we were all really relaxed and ready for bed when we got back to the houses. We've all had the best time on this trip despite the bugs and the heat (there was a nice breeze all day today that we all were super thankful for and the three 30 second intervals of rain throughout the day), and we are all really glad we came. 

Maggie Monaghan 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Krishna making dosa on Sunday morning.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The organization we are working with is found at http://www.timbaktu.org/.

Hello there!! Today is our third to last day at Timbaktu. This morning most people woke up around 7 and we all got up and out of the house by 8 we walked the long walk to breakfast at 8. Today is dosa day, which is like a large crepe made of rice and white lentill. Dosa day is really interesting because Sunday is the only day that they relax and the entire India decided to take a nap. We gather outside this morning, and see the entire village gathered together, a social breakfast. People are laughing, children are running amok, and Krishna is cooking. He creates dosas in a pancake/crepe fashion. He grabs a small little bucket of a liquid and pours it on a hot. flat surface. He spreads it into a circle shape, adds oil and water on top and then takes care of it. Turns out he was a chef among all the other things he could do.  After breakfast we went back to the Hexagon as we do most days and sat around and played games. 

Games ended at around 10 and we slowly made our way up to the temple. It was probably around a 3 km walk, about half on paved roads, half on rocks and sand. We were climbing up the hill and realized that when we turned around we had an amazing view of the valley below. We got to the temple area and two of the buildings were colored while one was completely white (maybe they will paint it soon). Maddie told us a few basics of Hinduism: the idea that there is a creator, destroyer, and protector all working together. Also each main deity has multiple forms or persons and many gods have sprung up as elements are extremely important. Think of a number of gods and add about 10,000 gods and you should only begin to understand the possibilities. The temples were very pretty, and we were allowed to take pictures all throughout the area. We went into the temple of Shiva and we allowed to take part in the ritual. A small little candle was passed around and we cupped our hands over it then brought it to our forehead. After the flame was passed around by the priest, he brought a small basin of water mixed with some leaves. He had a small spoon and spooned some water and a leaf into our cupped hands (always right hand on top of left) and we dumped the mixture on our heads. After this was completed Krishna was standing at a side of the temple and we lined up and got a Kum Kum (red dot that lies in-between the eyebrows) place on us. As we were walking outside the temple Maddy first rang the bell before we crossed the door to go outside. As we were walking out a family wanted to take a picture with all of us, apparently we are an attraction. As we were leaving an old man also was waving his hands and praying at us, Maddy said that he was worshiping his gods through us, maybe seeing us as a persona or vessel for gods. 

Everyone walked back in a generally good mood, especially since we had some free time until about 1 (it was about 11:40). Most of the girls went back to their own house, which I cannot speak to but a small group of us went to go to the Hexagon and we were relaxing there for quite a while. It was very nice, as interestingly the Hexagon has one of the best breezes (ironically enough I feel like there are the most mango flies in that area). 

 After, we had lunch at 1, and a few of us Hayden, Sam, Ms. Doza, Maddy and I went into a village and searched for some snacks for everyone. The village had a bunch of very small stores and we had to go to all of them to find everything everyone wanted. I think we cleared out a few of the stores… But during our snack search, we stopped in a bakery and got to try some tasty sweets and brought some back for people to try. After we found what we were looking for, the 5 of us headed back to camp and brought all of the goodies to the hexagon for people to choose what they wanted.

Everyone showed up at around 4 for yoga and games.  People who were not interested in the game decided to learn how to play; they ended up loving the game the most, go figure. I personally also had a first yoga class in India. Writing this the next day, I can honestly say that I feel so much better; sleeping was so easy and when I woke up I felt so refreshed. Yoga in India, does it get any better than that? The yoga class was really quite interesting. Near the end there was a little bit of rain and I know that a little bit of rain splashed on my face as I was relaxing on my back. The cold water felt so nice, since it is always scorching here. 

Lastly we watched some documentaries about Timbaktu learning more about the different collectives and what they did. It was interesting to see a lll the organizations that stung up from the Timbaktu Collective. They do so many different things and help all sorts of people. After the documentaries and dinner, we started watching a Bollywood movie with the children of the village. We left after a short while because it is pretty hard to follow a movie that you cannot understand with no help from subtitles. 

-Marco and Maggie Franck
P.S. I miss you mom and dad and can't wait to see you!!! (:  <3 - Maggie
P.S. Happy Birthday Emma, I tried to time it so that you would read this on the 29th. Marco <3. (Also shoutout to Morgan for wanting to use a rock to hammer nails in instead of a hammer)

SO hello al!!!!!! We're all somewhat okay, everyone has had their ups and downs here and it has been fun, such as a few people have been a little sick but they soon jumped back. (Shout out to Katherine for returning to 100%) It's a lot hotter here in Timbuktu compared to the nice cool-ish breezes of Bangalore, but that hasn't been a major issue yet, and I don't think it will be. The lack of A.C. and technology have been ironically refreshing, it's humbling in a sense as you become more aware of the earth and become generally in tune with everything. Today we learned a little bit about the agricultural side of Timbuktu, virtually everything they grow and produce is organic and I've noticed as I haven't felt this good body-wise in a while (and my skin couldn't look better). In a way I envy these kids (after learning about the harmful effects of GMOs and chemical pesticides at a few days back at Annadana) because if they remain here they will only know this organic food and will grow to be healthy adult without worry of chemical effects of the toxic company controlled food. Well now that I've ranted about the things I've learned, I want to also say that its been fun getting to know everyone on this trip, not only students, but also teachers. I believe that most of these relationships will last too. So let's move past this little check up and stream of consciousness to what we actually did today. 

SO today was our R&R day ( time is relative was our motto of the day), and after waking up late I moseyed my way to the magic kitchen to eat Breakfast( DOSA DAY).  We soon went to go to have our morning meeting after thirty minutes of nothing. We played where the wind blows( a physical game) to prepare the sleepy students for our 25 minute hike to the Timbuktu Temple. Upon our arrival Maddy and Krishna gave us a basic breakdown of Hinduism and the different ways people worship. Then we entered the temple with storm of taking pictures.  After the storm subsided we entered one of the temples to observe what a ceremony looked like (everyone even got a red dot on their head). We then returned home for an hour break (nap). After which was lunch then free time, and then a small elite group of students and teacher (Maddy, Ms. Doza, Hayden, Maggie, and myself) went out to replenish our snack supply, while everyone had ANOTHER nap-break. We then braced our selves for the herd of people coming for the 25 packs of oreos we bought( and other things as well). After everyone received what they pleased. Maddy taught some of us how to play and Indian board game, where I eliminated my competition of Greg, Christine, and Maddy, Later was yoga pt.2, then we watched a few documentaries about Timbuktu to soon after have dinner. Then we were supposed to have surprised all the non-leaders with a  Bollywood movie (of which apparently the rumor was leaked that morning). After several attempts to figure out what was happening we all left after 20 minutes to go to bed. So in conclusion it was a relaxing, enjoyable day. 

Ps. I don't miss you parents and Jake but I miss Happy, Louie, Saki, Roko, and Saffire. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pictures from Saturday, June 27

Sunset over the hills with the windmills in the fore ground

The 3-D maze should be finished Monday. Lots of math and engineering skills in addition to digging holes, mixing concrete, and screwing bolts

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hey friends and fam! Today was another great day! I was woken up at 5am by the daily wake up call from the roosters, peacocks, and other strange birds. As we do everyday, we had breakfast at 8 am, followed by games. Then we had Rada, a storyteller, come talk to us about our experience in India. It was a really interesting convo and it made us think about what we're doing here. After, we continued our community projects. One group continued doing the 3D maze for the kids, while my group started a new one. We completely took out a brick stove from the school's kitchen. It was really fulfilling because we did all by ourselves without help from the Timbaktu workers. We then had lunch which included no surprise…rice! After, we had a really fun leadership activity and then discussed the Millennium Development goals. Susan told us to organize by importance the 8 goals, which is a lot harder than you think. We split into groups again and went on our excursions. One group went to the Timbaktu Women's Center and my group went on a forest drive. Before we left, we saw the cutest little puppy, but we couldn't play with him :( We got to drive up a mountain in these old jeeps and it was super windy. Maddy taught us about the windmills in the mountains and how the organization was started. Hayden and I spotted a black buck! We also saw some baby deer, lizard, jackal, and a wild boar. We stopped at one of the seed banks in the mountains and watched the gorgeous sunset from the balcony. It was weird seeing it because we knew it was the middle of the night for you guys in America. We made it back just in time for dinner, which they had… INDIAN FRENCH FRIES! As y'all probably know, they served us mashed potatoes last night, which was a blessing. I think the cooks are starting to realize we enjoy potatoes and hopefully we will have it again tomorrow night. Keep your fingers crossed for us :) We were escorted back to the dorms again by Maddy because of the possible leopard encounter.  To end the night, we had visit from a cute, little squirrel downstairs. Hayden got him out safely, he's ok. Hope things are going well back in the states! We are all having and making mems! Love you mom and dad <3

Maggie Zerfoss 

Hi, everyone! Today most of us woke up around 7am and got ready for breakfast. As usual, the meal was mainly rice and some spicy sauce to mix it with. After breakfast, we went to the hexagon (where we usually meet) and played a game called "Mafia". Radha, a storyteller, came and asked us about our stay and what we thought of India so far. We also talked about our future in the world and present issues in America. We talked a little longer than we thought we would, so our groups were a little late for our community projects. The group that was building the bathrooms went to clear out a stove and cleaned a kitchen, and the other group continued to work on the 3D maze. The maze is really coming together and I think the kids here are really going to like it. When our time was up for the community project, we all went back to our rooms to rest a bit before lunch. If anyone couldn't guess, lunch was more rice. After lunch we did a leadership activity. Each of us got a notecard and wrote our leadership characteristics on it, after doing that we talked about the Millennium Development Goals and which ones seemed most important to us. Then we went back to the notecards and taped them on our backs so that the blank side of the card was facing away from us. We all went around and wrote a characteristic about a person on their card. Everyone seemed very uplifted by the nice things that were written about them. When we were done with the activity, we split up into our groups from the other day and went to the Women's Center or on the Forrest Drive. My group went to the Women's Center and everyone there was so nice. There were kids there that we had seen from the school, women working, and small animals like puppies and kittens. While at the Women's Center, we all bought some food, mostly nuts. I bought some peanut butter, peanut balls, and spicy peanuts to take home with me. Our group got back to the village a lot earlier than the other group, so we had free time to sit around and rest before dinner. At dinner, we were all very excited because there were french fries! The women cooking our food noticed how excited we were about the mashed potatoes the other night, so I guess they thought we would enjoy some fries and they were right! After dinner we did ANCHOR and one of my highlights was seeing Crosslin stick her head and arms out the window of the bus and get hit by a tree branch. All of us, including Crosslin, died laughing when that happened. When everyone was going to sleep, Crosslin had another exciting run in with nature. A chipmunk crawled up her shirt and she grabbed it and threw it against a wall. We found the little chipmunk sitting in the corner of the room and tried to trap it so we could get it into a basket to put outside. Our trap failed and the little animal scampered across the room into a shoe while all of us screamed. Hayden quickly grabbed the shoe and took it outside to let the chipmunk go! After that, we all tried to go to sleep, but people were still laughing about what had just happened. India has been so much fun, but please send some burgers or bacon for us to eat. I know that all of us are excited to eat american food when we get back. We all miss you and can't wait to get back even though India is amazing! I hope everything is good back at home! I love you lala and robbie! <3
See you soon, 

Audrey Sims
Today was another great day at Timbaktu! We woke up for our 8 am breakfast and then hung out and played games before our community project. We got to work on the community project for two and a half hours, and we made massive progress! We got two solar power lamps up at the school, we are close to completing the new bathrooms, and the 3D maze is coming to life! After some good work and progress, we headed to lunch and got ready to head to the school to be with the children. We got the opportunity to teach crafts to the kids, some classes made paper airplanes, paper frogs, paper boats, and my class made paper chains. We then got to garden with the kids which turns into hang out time with them. Two little girls braided Maggie Zerfoss' and my hair Indian style, which was so sweet and a great memory to have made. Next on the agenda was dance class, and I am happy to announce that many of us officially know an Indian dance! The jingle is so stuck in people's head, some have reported singing the song in their dreams!  Once mastering the Indian dance, we got to teach our cute dance teachers (all under the age of 10) an American dance. To stick with our Southern roots, we taught the girls the Hoe Down Throw Down from the ever famous Hannah Montana Movie. After dance class, we have rest time, which for many of us is a time to try to stop sweating for at least 10 minutes. We had our anchor and journal time, and for those of you who may not know, anchor is a time for us to sit, share, and reflect on our day. For example, I was thankful and appreciative for the children we got to be with because their energy rubs off on all of us and reminds how incredible it is that we get the chance to be here. Dinner was a dinner for royals for us! After 10 days of straight rice for every single meal, we are all ready to explode! However, last night the kitchen served… MASHED POTATOES AND BLACK EYED PEAS! I can't tell you how many people were jumping around, and some even crying at the sight of mashed potatoes, it was heavenly!! And on top of our glorious meal, the leopard had been spotted just half a mile from the girl's sleeping area! No worries, everyone was prepared and protected by Maddie (one of our World Leadership School councilors who has turned into our Dad of the trip) Everyone was hoping to see the leopard, because who wouldn't want to see a leopard?!? There were no spottings last night, but there is still hope for the nights to come! All in all, it was a wild day here at Timbaktu, but everyone is safe, having fun, and makings lots of memories!

P.S. Hi Bon Bon! Love you lots Mommy, I'm having lots of fun and can't wait to see you soon! XOXO

P.P.S A Message from Hayden: Happy birthday mom! I love you - Hayden!! 

See you all soon! 
Namaste from Timbaktu,

I'm not sure I can say a whole lot else about today after Sarah's been so detailed, but I'll try. Community projects progressed as usual, and we were blessed with slightly cooler weather. As for myself, I got to spend those few hours helping assemble the solar lights that were going to be erected next to the 3D maze – which is also growing by the minute. After projects concluded for the day, we headed to lunch. Surprise, rice and lentils, but still no less filling. Lunch prepared us for the chaos to come – in the form of dozens of six-year-olds throwing paper planes at each other in a windstorm. My group was the one to blame for that. Craft time saw the five of us Ensworth students sitting in a circle joined by maybe 20 kids or so. I got to lead everyone in constructing a simple paper airplane; incredibly rewarding once the understood what to do with their project, and suddenly the air was full of multicolored planes that somehow never poked an eye out. I can't speak to what's been said about the dance so far, because a handful of us instead opted to join the kids in a game of cricket. Now, do note that basically none of us know how to play, and receiving conflicting directions from students who can't really speak English isn't exactly the most straightforward way to learn. We managed our best, though, and had fun despite total domination of Team Eagle by Team Tree. Afterwards, the biggest event of the night was of course everyone's infatuation with the mashed potatoes. And then following dinner all of the girls' group got to walk back together because of our friendly neighborhood leopard. I didn't write a whole lot but that doesn't mean the day was any less hectic. In that case, even though it's tomorrow here, I guess all that's left to say is "good morning."

  • Elliot
4 monkeys are always looking for food

3-D maze construction

Dinner time!

Dancing with the children

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Additional pictures...

Sarah and Reed working on the bathrooms at the school.
Painting at the after-school center in Bangalore

Nature Walk

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today started out the same as it did yesterday, with the two groups splitting off and working on their community projects. Since the people who were already working on the project had made a lot of progress, we had a lot of free time. Students spent the time either resting, talking, or playing games. One such game was a game that Krishna, Reed, Elliot, and myself took part in. We all would gather some berries and would try to throw them into a bucket, which ended up being a whole lot of fun. The other group continued its progress on the 3D maze, completing the outline of the maze and then putting down the post to support it. All of this took a lot of time and effort, and the group handled it extremely well.

After lunch, we once again split into two groups, with one group going to the Woman's Co-op and the other going on a forest tour. I was in the first group, and once we got to the Co-op, we noticed a few things. One of the first things we noticed was how there were not that many machines. Instead, there were women who were doing each job by hand. In one such instance, we came across a group of women who were cleaning some grain. We had a nice conversation in which, in a sort of role reversal, the women seemed very surprised that these jobs would be done by machines in America. Then, one of them playfully asked if she could come back with us, and Susan replied by asking if she was able to fit into her backpack. Then, after viewing all of the stations, we had the opportunity to buy some food that had been packaged at the Co-op. After that, we went to the office and were told why they were doing and how money was distributed. I thought it was interesting how the Co-op provided everything for the women who worked there, whether it be housing, loans, or anything else. Once they were done telling us about these things, we thanked them for having us and then went back to Timbaktu.

  • Luke Mukundan 

After Lunch, as Luke said, we spilt up into two groups. My group loaded onto two Jeeps and drove into the hills for a forest tour. The ride itself ended up being loads of fun as we talked about random things while the wind was whipping around our hair.  As we drove further up the mountains/hills we began to see a lot more windmills and vegetation. Maddy explained to us that Timbaktu has been working since 1992 to expand the land to greatly increase the amount of species of plants in the area. He also explained that the windmills were causing problems with the amount of "birds of prey" still around the area. We stopped several times on our trip and basically had to fight the wind, at points, to remain still and standing up. We ended up at a lookout tower that native villagers used to check for fire hazards and collect seeds. From there we took a short hike down to a pond that was the "only one for many acres" so most of the animals came to that specific pond. We didn't see any animals besides a small turtle so we headed back up to the Jeeps and returned to Timbaktu.

When we got back, we had a short question time to think about who we would want here with us in India if we could only pick one person. Then we had a short ANCHOR time and headed back to our rooms for some sleep.

  • Bailey Cunningham

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This morning, we were broken up into two groups and started the Community Projects. Mili's group started constructing bathrooms for the school that were closer than the bathrooms that they have been using so that there was less danger caused by wildlife to the kids. Maggie's group started structuring the 3D Maze for the school which will give them another thing to play with rather than the small playground with limited equipment. During the project, there was a lot of tension and frustration going into it because of the heat, bugs, homesickness, and the fact that we had to do manual labor for the first time in months (mostly because we had to do it in the heat and there is no cold water here that we can drink). After all of the "storming", the group came together and we were working as a team with proficiency. 

After lunch, we visited the school and broke up into groups with different classes. Each of our classes did a craft activity and a gardening segment; at the end of our time with them, the majority of us went to a dance class taught by four local girls in which we learned two different dances, while three of us went to play cricket. During the craft activity, Mili's and Maggie's class made origami frogs that jumped. Unfortunately, our frogs got snagged. During gardening, our class looked at a turtle pond in which there were three different types of turtles: pond terrapin, Indian soft shell turtle, and a small terrapin turtle.  We got to hold them all and it was a highlight of many people's days. Our class brought buckets of water to the turtle pond to fill it up more for them and the little girls put flowers in our girls hair and gave small flowers to our boys. At the end of our stay in Timbaktu, we are performing the dances that the girls taught us and we will also be performing them during an assembly at Ensworth. 

Mili and Maggie

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We started our day still in Vistaar. We ate breakfast at Vistaar then met for some morning activities. The game we decided to start our day with was telephone, we used the word Prayana, which loosely translates to mean travel in Canadu (not the actual spelling, we have no idea how to spell it), which we thought would be fitting for the day. Midway through the game the message changed to 'the crap is black' and by the end we had 'the cow is black'. If you're confused by the message, it relates to what we did with the children on June 22. 
After our game, we went over the schedule then started an activity to prepare us for Timbaktu. We went around and wrote down our fears and then put them in a hat to be read aloud, but anonymously. A couple fears were read, and then someone read "being too popular", and then good ole' Greg started dying laughing. Jokingly, he threw that one in there along with a serious one, and literally thought it was the funniest thing he had ever done. We all laughed for about 5 full minutes. We also had a few very serious concerns about the bathroom situation (there was a rumor spreading that there weren't going to be toilets but holes in the ground). We did encounter a hole-toilet on the drive to Timbaktu, but our living space does indeed have "western" toilets, which is a relief to everyone. Everyone has been a bit preoccupied with bathrooms and poop, we did poop/lower back yoga in the morning. 
We departed for Timbaktu about 45 minutes to an hour late, not unusual. About 30 minutes into our bus ride we got to stop at a market, not the bustling, outdoor market we experienced the first day, but more of a small grocery store. All 19 of us American teenagers were released on the food and you can probably imagine the outcome. We are now stocked for the entire trip with chips and candy and soda, everything our little hearts could desire, in Indian form. 
Once we reentered the bus, there were many conversations and activities that occurred, as it was a three hour bus ride. Some missed American food, "Or we'll ask for no meat then go to Chik Fil A and get chicken minis and put them on the bagels.", was a quote from Eden when she was reminiscing on Brueggers. 

Upon arrival at Timbaktu, 2 things were immediately recognized: it was substantially hotter than Vistaar, and there were  SO MANY gnats. (like, so many). At that point, everyone was what we'll say "agitated" from the heat, bugs, and long bus ride we had just finished. We ate lunch and got a little orientation of the place, then had down time for 2 hours. During that time, the girls had "girl time", and thus the annoyance and frustration was expelled and we all bonded and it was lovely. But, what happens in "girl time" stays in "girl time", so don't ask about it when we get home. 
After down time, we all went to what we call the hexagon, which is basically just a really open, airy building with a bug hexagon in the middle and other rooms coming off of it. Once there, we had tea and played the game "I like a friend who _____". To play ths game, everyone stands in a circle and there is one person in the middle. The person in the middle says "I like a friend who___" and in the blank, you say some characteristic or some quality about yourself, and then if others share the quality or characteristic, they have to run across the circle and find a new seat. The person standing last is the new person in the middle. We all really enjoy this game and will probably play it every time we get the chance. It's quite exciting. 
After the game, we had some time to spread out and journal about the question of the day, which was how is Timbaktu different from Vistaar? The two centers are different in various ways. Vistaar is very beautiful, but it doesn't have the amazing hills and rolling mountains and wildlife that Timbaktu does. Timbaktu is honestly the most beautiful place I've ever been to. There is so much grass and vegetation, but also the building are white and red brick and its just so simple but it is stunning against the red dirt and tall green trees. Also, Vistaar was right outside the city of Bangalore, so we could always hear cars or people walking. In Timbaktu, the silence is serene and overwhelming. It was weird getting used to, we all spoke in hushed tones for fear of upsetting the wildlife around us.. But it was breathtaking, and getting to sit and journal and just watch the sun go down and the clouds roll past, I have never felt more at peace in my life. 
After journal time, we did ANCHOR then ate dinner and slowly went to bed. It was an exhausting, wonderful, awful, life-changing day, and we are so lucky to be on this trip and staying in this amazing place. We send all our love :)

Reed and Katherine 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Arrival in community!

Hello Parents:

I just heard from Susan who reports that internet is really slow where they are -- they will post when they get to better internet. In the meantime, Susan and Greg have the following to report:

On Tuesday we left Bangalore and drive to Timbaktu. It was about a three hour bus ride. We settled in, ate dinner and toured the facility. There is a school here that we will work with the next week.

A more complete blog entry from Reed and Katherine will come later.

All the students are happy and taking advantage of the beautiful setting!

Greg and Susan

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday was unusual because we split up into 2 smaller groups we could work at two different sites of Makkala Jagriti.  Makkala Jagriti is a NGO dedicated to facilitating holistic development of children who live in the slums of Babgalore. Their web site is www.makkalajagriti.org. Their name literally means "Children Awakening". Morgan and Kaelene were in separate groups:

After a good night of sleep, we all woke up and had breakfast and talked for a little while. We left Visthar and had lunch at A2B, and then headed out to the school and community center. At lunch, Susan let us order Coke, which was incredible because we all needed the caffeine by then. I went to the elementary school, with my group, and we had such a great time playing with the kids. It was amazing learning with the kids and trying to teach them some english words. They would always ask us, "What is your name?" because that is all they knew how to say. The entire experience was life changing because the children were really trying their best to communicate with us, and they spoke the little bit of english they knew in order to talk to us. The little kids were always wanting to shake our hands and learn our names. I will never forget the little girl who said, "Miss, Miss, you're hair looks super." I thought that was the kindest thing, and it was known that they enjoyed our presence as much as we loved being with them. They taught us some of the games that they play and we taught them the macarena, Little Sally Walker (which we played 100+ times), and the hokey pokey. We were sweeping the trash off the playground, but after about a minute of us sweeping, the children came and took our brooms and did the cleaning for themselves. They wanted to help us as much as we wanted to help them. That night, when we got back to Visthar, everyone was really moved by the children, and felt an emotional connection to them. We had dinner, ANCHOR, and then we got to sleep around 9:00. At dinner, one of the ladies at Visthar showed us her figurines, that she made herself, with yarn and other materials. Each figure had a story and it was incredible learning the history behind each one and also, I noticed how much time she put into making them. She was very passionate about what she did. This entire day was amazing and we are all excited about the experiences that we will have moving forward on this trip. (P.S. the chai tea here is INCREDIBLE!!! I love it!)


After braving the organized chaos of Indian traffic, my group (Kaelene, Maggie M, Maggie Z, Audrey, Crosslin, Lillie, Katherine, Marco, Elliot, Ms. Chan, Mr. Eubanks and Maddy) made it to the community center.  Once we arrived, we meet a group of about ten to fifteen teenagers from the community center.  Then each group picked a game for everyone to play.  They taught us a game that was similar to the chicken dance and we taught them how to play four corners.  After the ice breakers, we got in groups and tried to talk and get to know the teenagers from the center.  Even though not all of them spoke English we were able to community through hand gestures and when we couldn't understand them, the ones who understood English helped translate.  Once we finished introductions, we got to ask them questions about India and their daily lives, and they asked us questions about our lives and America.  We then split into three groups and each group got to paint a part of the wall with the students.  One group painted the centers name on the wall in their language and in English, one group finished painted pictures that the students drew on the walls of the stairs, and the final group painted the walls of their computer lab.  It was such a wonderful experience to work with the students, and even though we couldn't always understand each other, we were able to laugh, have fun and finish the work.  After we finished painting, we said goodbye to the teenagers and went into the classroom with the younger kids  The younger kids were so excited to see us.  They would come up to us and ask our names and touch our hair.  We all sat down with them and they all wanted us to write down our names and tell them how to pronounce them.  It was such an amazing experience.  After they all had our autographs, some of the girls showed us a dance they had learned and then we had to say goodbye.  Saying goodbye was extremely hard.  All the kids  would come up and shake our hands or give us hugs or touch our faces and ask when we are coming back.  We all wanted to stay longer.  After the teachers forced us on the bus, Maddy asked us if we wanted ice cream and we all enthusiastically said yes.  We made it back to Visthar and had dinner and had ANCHOR and then we all passed out.  We had such a wonderful time at the center, we are all excited to head out to Timbuktu and work with more kids.  We all send our love.  


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

After a full nights rest, We were up and active by 8am having breakfast. After breakfast, We all met and leaders Lillie and Hayden informed us the full schedule and information about our day ahead of us. We got on the bus and headed to Annadana. Annadana is a organization that grows organic food and spreads awareness against genetic modified seeds and how bad they can be for your health. The leader of annadana spoke to us for an hour then we split up into groups and toured the farm. We saw a lot of varieties of vegetables and food and trees. It was very interesting and we all learned a lot. We also got to participate in the farm. After the tour, we watched a film and the members of Annadana had cooked us lunch. The lunch was very good and healthy. Then, the rain started to come on in. The team at Annadana made us cake, It was wheat cake with nuts and some fruit and vegetables inside. We thanked everyone at Annadana and headed back to our place. We were given 2 hours of downtime, and 30 mins for yoga if desired to. We all got back together as a group and had another learning session for 2 hours before dinner. We had dinner and ended the day with ANCHOR. It was a good day, but we were all tired. 


Happy Father's Day!! <3 

10 minute power naps and weird dreams from Malaria medication were the norm yesterday. The jet lag really started to kick in, and to say that we were all tired would be an understatement. Yesterday, we went to an organic seed farm and learned about GMOs, pesticides in foods and the disappearing varieties of foods. We toured the farm and the processes that go into the agricultural process. The best parts of the trip for me have been the down time and bus rides in between the daily activities. During this time we have all bonded with people that we probably wouldn't otherwise bond with. In other news, we're bonding due to filth. I wiped off my face yesterday and it looked as if I was wiping off stage makeup, but it was only dirt. Everyone's hair is a little oily and everyone smells a little stale but it's all part of the India experience. 


Annadana on the web: annadana-india.org

Happy Father's Day from Bangalore!
After a couple days of traveling, we arrived at the retreat center around 4 AM. We didn't get to sleep until about 5:30 AM, and then woke up at 8 AM for breakfast. After breakfast, we spent the morning doing group activities. These let us get to know each other a lot better… We explored our comfort zones, discussed our goals for the first few days of the trip, and played games. We ate lunch on the campus of the retreat center, and then loaded the bus to go to Bangalore Palace which was about 1 hr away. We toured the palace by an audio tour. It was beautiful! After the palace tour, we took the bus into the city of Bangalore to tour the marketplaces. We started by crossing the streets, which is surprisingly very difficult considering the lack of traffic lights and the reckless driving of many motorists, rikshaws, etc. The streets here are very different, filled with clutter. The open market place had a lot of different vendors sitting on the sidewalks, selling things like shoes, jewelry, and clothes. On our way through the open markets, we saw many wild dogs and random cows. Once we got to a indoor market, there was a lot of fresh items (fruit, vegetables, flowers, animals, etc.) After walking about through the chaotic streets, we arrived at the bus and rode it to a restaurant called Barbecue Nation. The restaurant was really nice and had a lot of options for dinner. It had grills on the tables in front of you where the servers would put chicken, shrimp, fish, etc. Everyone was really exhausted from the previous days of travel and only getting 2-3 hrs of sleep, and was pretty much falling asleep at the table. Later, we rode back to the retreat center and went straight to bed. It was really good first day, with many things to do and a lot of immersion into the Indian culture. We look forward to the next few days in the city of Bangalore!

Eden and Crosslin

Happy Father's Day to all our fathers! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

First Day

Hello Families:
Susan Lambert asked me to post this picture of the group. They had a great first day at the Bangalore palace and local market. They will do a full blog update tomorrow. All is well!
Thank you,
Ross Wehner

Friday, June 19, 2015

Students are sleeping!

Hello Parents:
I just heard from Susan Lambert, our instructor and all kids have arrived and are getting to sleep. The adventure begins! If you have any questions, please email me on ross@worldleadershipschool.com or call me on (303) 6790-3412. From this point forward, the students will be communicating their experience through this blog so please check back for updates.
Ross Wehner
World Leadership School

Almost there!

Hello family and friends of the Ensworth program in India. The group is boarding their flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Bangalore, India! All is well with the group!!

Erin Hawk
Director of Operations

Thursday, June 18, 2015

And so it begins

We made it to Houston without a problem