Allie Ziegler: Final Reflection

Wow it’s crazy to think that it’s been two weeks since leaving India. It was such a weird feeling getting back into the swing of things at home. Upon reflection, I have realized how much this trip has really impacted my life. There are so many things that I look at from a different point of view. I constantly think about all the people I met along the way that helped make this journey so amazing. I miss them all greatly. Every person I came in contact with left such a great impact on me. I love talking about India and the experience I had there. Everyone has lots of questions. After talking to many people, I realized how much going to another country taught me. I have had so much fun coming home and bragging on my amazing students. My class 3B will always hold a special place in my heart. I often think about what they are doing and what they are learning. I wonder what they are having for lunch and who I would be sitting with. Something I’m really excited for is getting back into the classroom. The majority of my growth and learning that occurred throughout this journey was in the classroom. My final week in India was spent making lesson plans and executing them in a fourth grade classroom. After doing this, it made me really excited to teach more lessons. I feel so much more confident in my teaching and the ability to gain the students attention. I’m ready to put everything that I learned into to action and get back into the classroom. It will be amazing got take all the knowledge I gained those six weeks. I’m so excited to observe the difference that occur from the American classroom and the India classroom.

In India, I gained a new perspective on myself and a whole new perspective on education. I realized that school doesn’t have to be filled with tons of test and preparation for high school. I learned that elementary education should be filled with eager learners who aren’t pressured with grades and dead lines. In India, there’s were so many different ideas that me and my teacher exchanged. She pushed me to think outside of the box and had so many hands on ideas that I can’t wait to implement into my classroom. My teacher Juanita, that I observed for six weeks, totally transformed my philosophy of teaching. She would ask the students tons of questioned that lead them to form there own answers. She taught me the teaching isn’t just telling the students what they need to know, but rather leading them to find there own discoveries. She will be a huge influence in my teaching career for as long as I am a teacher. The impact that Vidyashilp Academy had on me is something that I will truly never forget. I miss the entire school family so much and wish them the best of lucky and continued blessings. This is Allie Ziegler signing off the final India blog.


Allie Ziegler Blog 7: Tough Goodbyes

This week was one that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was truly a roller coaster of emotions. I feel like it is hard to realize how much someone really has impacted your life until it is time to say goodbye. This week was filled with some really tough goodbyes. I am going to make this journal entry and little different from the rest and tell you about just a few of the people here in India who have truly left an impact on my life and taught me some unforgettable lessons.

First person who left a huge impact on me is my teacher Juanita. Wow. Where to even start with the impact this woman has had on my life. In the six weeks of working with her, she made me a more confident teacher than I could have ever imagined. She was always so encouraging and taught me to be confident in my teaching ability. She will forever be role model in my teaching career. She taught me to keep life fun and never forget to laugh. We had the best times laughing about our height difference and me being her giant shadow. She shows so much love to all of her students. She makes a point to have a relationship with each individual student and that is something that I strive to do with my future students.

As for the students that I was with for the six weeks, thank you. Thank you for being so patient when I was learning. Thank you for being so loving and welcoming to me. Those students will always have a piece of my heart. They reminded me everyday, as I walked out of the elevator in the morning, that I was going into the right profession. They were a constant reminder of the passion that I have for education. I will talk about those students and there impact on me for years to come.

Sheral, the ultimate India tour guide and our mom for the last six weeks. Sheral taught me how to navigate India and do it like a pro. I never knew that I had the ability to stop six lanes of traffic with just the use of my hand. Sheral taught me to speak up for what I want. She made sure that we got the most of everything we did here. My experience truly would not have been what it was without this wonderful women, guiding me the whole way. Our group was so blessed that we had Sheral to help us make the most of this experience.

Lastly, thank you India, for the many lessons that you taught me. Never will I complain about traffic back home. Thank you for the spicy yet delicious cuisine. Thank you for taking me back in time with all the rich history and culture this place has to offer. Thank you for showing me your people. The people of India are truly what makes this place so magnificent. The people that helped me through this journey showed me so much love and hospitality.

The impact this experience has had on me is hard to put into words. I have grown in ways that are still unknown. I know this trip has impacted me not only as an educator, but also as an individual. This trip is something that I will never forget and will always hold a place in my heart.

Allie Ziegler Blog 6: Going into the last week

We had a fun weekend getaway. This weekend we traveled to Mysore and Coorg. We arrived in Mysore on Saturday, checked into the hotel and then began exploring the city. We started at an art gallery called Devraj Mohalla. This gave us a chance to take a look back at look of Indian history and artifacts. This art gallery was filled with many Indian art pieces. I was amazed at the amount of art that was there. Then from there we drove to the top of the Chamundi Hill. It was such a beautiful overlook. From the top of the hill, we could see the whole city, including the Mysore Palace. We drove to the top of Chamundi Hill and there was a temple. The temple was tall and covered in monkey, that were jumping around it. I still haven’t gotten over the fact that these monkeys are wild. I am just so used to only seeing monkeys in the zoo, not roaming the streets. After staying the night in Mysore, we woke up early the next day and traveled to Coorg. In Coorg, we visited the Dubare Elephant camp. This camp is an elephant sanctuary where visitors can go and bath, feed and interact with the elephants. Upon arrival we got into a little john boat and we boated across the river to where the elephants were. Right when we got there and we were waiting in line for the boat, it started to rain. The rain did not put a damper on our trip at all, it added to the adventure. It was truly an amazing experience to be so up close and personal with these giant gentle creatures. I had only ever seen an elephant in a zoo. I have never had the opportunity to be up so close and able to reach out and touch them. Being able to touch them was amazing. I had no idea what their skin would feel like. After seeing the elephants, we went to a Buddhist monastery. The place was gorgeous. When I walked in I was just stunned, but the amount of beautiful painting and colors that filled the room. Getting to have these experiences are ones that I will never forget. Another fun weekend trip to lead us into the last week of school.

It seems impossible that I am starting my last week at school. Looking back, time really does fly by. I remember looking at the calendar and thinking I have so much time here. Now that the last week is upon me, I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am so excited to get home and see my family and friends, but it will be sad to leave the school family I have made here at Shilp. This week I will be giving the lessons that I have been preparing over the coarse of my time here. I am excited to see how the students react to the lesson I have created and receive feedback and advice from the teachers. These last few days have been a lot of reflection on my trip so far. Thinking about everything that I have learned and experienced here. Going into my last week here, I hope to continue to make the most a of each day and learn something new. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this last week

(The view from the top of Chamundi Hill.)

(The Temple that was on top of the hill. If you look closely, you can see the monkeys sitting the edges.)

(The gentle giants.)

(The Buddhist Monastery.)

Allie Ziegler Blog 5: Trip to Delhi and Agra

I saw one of the seven wonders of the world. I still can’t believe it. For four days, our group traveled to Delhi and Agra. In Agra we got to see the Taj Mahal. Something that I never thought I would be able to say in my life time. Seeing the Taj Mahal was an experience that I will never forget. As we were walking up through the massive gate that leads to the Taj Mahal, I could see it glowing in the back ground and couldn’t even believe my eyes. The massive marble structure shines in the light almost as if it has a glow around it. I have seen so many pictures of the Taj Mahal, but those pictures didn’t even compare to seeing it in real life. What made the Taj Mahal so amazing for me was the way it was constructed. I couldn’t wrap my head around the rich history that I was seeing with my own eyes. The Taj Mahal was finished in the year 1648, before any machinery or heavy equipment existed. I was standing there looking at this massive beautiful monument, thinking how was it even possible to build something of this size so long ago. Even today with all the equipment and technology we have in the world, it still seems unreal to build a building of this size. After leaving the Taj Mahal, our tour guide asked us if we wanted to see some of the dying arts of India. They call these art the dying arts because the next generation isn’t learning them and they aren’t being passed down. Many of these art forms stay in families for many many generations. Our guide lead us to a shop that was selling marble. As we walked in there was three men sitting on the ground, engraving these marble slabs. It was amazing to see the craftsmen ship of these three men. They were carving on the same type of marble that that the Taj Mahal is made from. A very hard marble, that is almost impossible to break. The owner of the marble shop informed us that the men that were carving the marble were descendants of the men who created the Taj Mahal. After seeing the marble carvings, we went to see how embroidery was done. Hand embroidery and marble carving are two of the dying arts. Getting two see these two arts forms was truly amazing. It was a glimpse of all the rich history that India holds.

When we arrived in Delhi we visited Amity University. When we arrived we were greeted with flowers and smiling faces. There were pre-service teachers from Amity who were with us while we toured. It was such a cool experience to interact with future teachers from a different country. In true India fashion, no guest ever goes without food, so we sat down and ate lunch with the dean and the students. The food was delicious and the company was great too! It was so interesting how the profile of flavors in the food of northern India was so different from the southern India food we had been eating in Bangalore. After enjoying a delicious lunch, we went to this lecture hall to listen to a presentation. After listening to Dr. Chad Rose give a presentation, along with some students from Amity, it was our turn. Each of us got up and talked about our experiences in India and in the schools thus far. It was fun to present to a group of students from a different University. We finished our time in Delhi by going to an outdoor market called Dilli Haat. Dilli Haat was a gorgeous outdoor market with so many different booths and vendors. They pretty much had everything, from purses to scarves to jewelry. I got some beautiful things to bring back home. The trip to Delhi and Agra was truly an amazing experience. Now it’s time to get back to school and continue to learn more. In these last two weeks, I hope to seize every opportunity that I can and continue to learn more and more each day.

(Colorful wall of shoes at the Dilli Haat Market)

(The marble engraving on the walls of the Taj Mahal)

(The Gate the was built to guard the Taj Mahal)

Allie Ziegler Blog 4: The Halfway Point

It’s crazy to think that this trip is already half way over. Going into week three, I was excited to continue to build relationships with both the students and teachers. One connection that had stood out, is the connection that I have mad with my teacher Juanita. She has been very encouraging throughout this whole journey. She has been so good at making sure I feel included I and apart of the classroom. She never fails to make me laugh and make teaching so fun. I have gained so much confidence in the classroom all because of her. All the teachers at Shilp have made me feel like I’m apart of their team. I got the chance to attend a department meeting with the Environmental Science Teachers and the principal. I had never had the chance to attend a teacher meeting. It was a really great experience to see that side of education. This week I spent a lot of my time planning my lesson that I am going to give at the end of my journey here in India. All the teachers have been so eager to help me build this lesson. Lesson planning is something that I haven’t done in the States yet. Getting this chance to write my own lesson and then execute it in the classroom, is such a great experience. The students at Shilp have also made my time there so great. Every morning when I walk into the building, I am always greeting with their smiling faces saying “Good Morning Ma’am.” This is always a good start to my day. One thing that I have really struggled with at school is remembering the names of the students. There are just so many students per class, it can make it tricky to remember everyone’s names. I believe as a teacher knowing the students names is so important to building a strong relationship with them. So I spent a lot of week three focusing on remembering students names and that really helped me to build those relationship. The week went by pretty fast, because there was a lot happening. We had two visitors Dean Chval, the Dean of Mizzou’s College of Education and Gabrielle Malfatti, the Director of Global Engagement. It was so nice to have them come see what we are doing here in Bangalore. We had dinner while they were in town and both of them gave me some great advice that I’ll carry with me for a long time. Dean Chval talked to the group about the importance of listening. She talked all about how you can get to know so much about a person if you really focus on listening to the person. I really took that to heart. I feel like it’s something really important to practice here when meeting all new people and really getting to learn their story. The rest of the week I become very aware of how well I was listening to each student when they talked and I heard some interesting stories, while getting to know them better. The week continued to fly by and then it was the Fourth of July. I have never been out of the country during the United States Independence Day. I thought it would be a really tough day to be so far away from home and it was kind of tough, but what made it so much better were the students when I got to school that day. All the students were running up to me saying “Happy Independence Day ma’am.” Then they proceeded to ask me to sing the National Anthem. Anyone that knows me, knows I am not much of a singer, but the students kept asking and asking. So I gave it my best shot and sung them the National Anthem. They all loved it. I had such a great week. Week three opened my eyes to even more new experiences and I can’t wait to see what week four has in store for me.

Allie Ziegler Blog 3: First Full Week at School

I survived the first full week at school. Last week I was at school for three days. I did a lot of observing and trying to get things organized. Coming into my first full week of school I was so excited to get with one teacher and really start to build that relationship with that teacher and students. I choose to spend my time in the EVS Department, which stands for Environmental Sciences. I choose the EVS department here at Shilp, because I loved how interactive the lessons where and each day was a new stimulating activity for the students. So for the next four weeks I will be in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade EVS classes. I was so ready to really get into the classroom and start learn from both the students and the teacher and that is just what I did. My week started off with the 5th graders. We had such a fun time, learning all about terrariums and then getting to build them. The students helps me make one too, I just hope I don’t forget to water it while I’m here. All the students are so good at welcoming me into the classroom and treating me with the same respect they do the other teachers. Then it was time for the 3rd grade class. They are doing a section all about the solar system and the lesson this day was about the earth. Juanita is my teacher that I will be following for the remainder of the time I am here. I kept reminder her that I was really eager to do a lesson. So when the lesson came up about earth, so asked me to jump in and introduce the topic. The students we’re all ears when I began the lesson. I started by talking about how big the world is and how long it took me to travel here. I talked about how I was in the air for 22 hours just to come and see the students. One girl from the back yelled “Thank you Allison ma’am.” This just shows how warm and welcoming these students are. I finished the lesson by showing pictures of my home, family and friends. Juanita was so kind and encouraging about me giving my first lesson all on my own. These are just a few examples of the kindness that has been showed to me by Shilp. There have been times where it’s really hard to be away from home, but the way the staff, teachers and students have welcomed me made it a lot easier. To finish off the tiring yet exciting first full week of school, we had such a fun weekend. We went to see Toy Story 4 and ended the night with a meal all together. Today we went to see the ISKCON Temple. The temple was huge and very crowded, but it was so beautiful. We finished today at a market and did a little shopping. Week 2 was packed full of new experiences and lots of learning. I’m excited to see what week 3 will bring.

Allie Ziegler Blog 2: Arriving in Bangalore

Last Friday the plane landed in a Bangalore and I could barely believe I was actually here, after all the planning and packing. I had seen pictures and heard stories, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Before coming I heard so much about all the traffic. We arrived in Bangalore early in the morning, so one would think the traffic would not be that bad. As soon as we got in our bus and drove away from the airport the hustle and bustle began. This city is always on the move. It’s filled with so many different things. From the stray dogs, roaming cattle and rickshaws buzzing around, there is so much going on all the time. It’s hard to find the words to describe, the somehow organized chaos of Bangalore traffic. It was definitely the first form of cultural shock that I experienced. When I return back to the United States, I don’t think I’ll ever complain about traffic. After getting through the first crazy traffic experience, we arrived at Casa Cottages where we we’re staying. I don’t think I knew what it felt like to be as tired as I was after all that travel. That being said after I rested up the first day, I was ready to explore the city. We spent the whole Saturday touring the city, from the Summer Palace to the Bull Temple, we got to experience a lot of Bangalore.

Exploring the city was great, but I was most excited to get into the classroom. On Monday and Tuesday we went to all the schools that we will be placed at and got a tour. Vidyashilp is the school that I will be at for the next six weeks. When we toured Vidyashilp, I got to learn more about the curriculum that was offered and I fell in love with it. Shilp has a very innovative way of thinking about education. They let the students be creative and think outside of the box rather than forcing them to think the same way the teacher thinks. For example, in some of the lessons that I have observed, the teacher will put just one or two concepts on the board, that will allow the student to start generating thoughts. Rather than the teacher telling the students at the beginning of class what they are going to learn today, they guide the student so they can be forming their own understanding of the concept. One thing I noticed about the atmosphere of the school is that the students are so happy. When I walk down the halls laugher fills the air. They are all seem so excited to learn. The students we’re all so welcoming. As soon I walked into the first classroom, they we’re so excited. They asked a million questions and even wanted my autograph. They we’re all amazed that I was an American. I have already gained so much cultural knowledge and experience, in the just the short time that I have been here. I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks hold for me. I’m excited to continue growing as and individual and an educator.

Allie Ziegler Blog 1: And so the Packing Begins…

It’s crazy to think that when I found out I was going on this trip, it was four months away, and now it’s almost here. I remember thinking “I have so much time to prepare for this trip and get everything I need.” and now all I can think is “Where has all my time gone?” I have so many different emotions as I prepare for this trip. I’m excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time. I don’t know how one can be fully prepared to go and experience the education system in another country. I have read so many different articles and seen many different pictures, but at the end of the day I feel that it’s something I have to go experience for myself. That’s why I’m on the edge of my sit ready to go. There are so many things that I have heard from other people about India, after hearing all those things, I’m ready to go and start my own journey. When I sit back and think about going to Vidyashilp Academy, I get butterflies in my stomach. I’m ecstatic thinking about all the relationships that I’m going to create, with the staff students, and teachers and how much we will learn from one another. This is a one in a life time experience and I can’t wait to see how much I grow and learn in the 6 weeks I am there.

When telling people I’m going on this trip so many people ask “Why India?” Well the answer is I don’t really know, yet. Since Freshman year of college, I had an interest in going on this trip. There was something about this trip that just excited me and made me want to sign up, so that’s what I did. This trip really excites me because of the unknown and the challenges it will bring. After finding out I was going on this trip, I knew I had a lot to learn. I mean I knew nothing about India, so that was where google came in handy. I did a lot of research about India, the culture, the food and the common practices there. That being said I can’t wait to get there and experience it all myself rather than just reading it on paper. With all the excitement comes some nerves too. I am a little nervous about the language barrier, because I want to be the most help I can be in the classroom, without there being any confusion. That will all come together with patience and understanding. I can’t wait to take the knowledge that I have learned at the University of Missouri and apply it in a classroom in India. I know this trip might be tiring and overwhelming at first, but that will all be worth it with the knowledge that I will bring into my future classroom one day. I know this trip with help me grow tremendously as a future educator. So heres to filling my belly with curry and learning to wear a saree!