Meryl Barnes~ Final Reflection

It’s been two weeks since my return to the US, and it had been an amazing time to reflect on my time in India. I miss being in India, and the things I had the opportunity to see. I miss my classes, and I wonder what they are doing in school at the moment. I would love to go back and see the growth of the students at the end of the year. They are so smart and excited about education, and that is something that I will miss. I am so thankful for this experience. In the coming weeks I will begin my preschool placement in Columbia and am excited to see how I can utilize my knowledge from India in my classroom.
As I continue to tell friends and family about my trip, I continue to miss and get excited for future travels. There are so many amazing things that I miss from India. As I came back, the major things I missed were the food, the people, the schools and the traffic. It is amazing to think about how boring it is driving down suburban roads. I missed the hustle and flow of traffic. It’s also extremely quiet. Even seeing Chicago after my return, it is still quieter than India.
It is such a culture shock coming back and that was something I didn’t not expect. As I had been in India for six weeks, I had gotten use to being in that environment and coming back was extremely different. I was so excited to tell others about my trip, but it’s hard to explain the magic of India. There were so many things that I learned and had the opportunity to experience, that I never would have if I hadn’t gone on this trip.
This trip makes me want to travel back to India, and has made me think about applying for Fulbright Scholars. Seeing the world is such an amazing thing and being able to be immersed in education and culture makes it even better. I continue to want to gain in my cultural knowledge of India. There were so many things we had the opportunity to learn, however India is such a huge country, that there is so much more to learn.
As I reflect on the times in the school, I wish we were able to spend more time in the government schools. There was so much to learn and see while visiting the government schools. I continue to wonder if they are all different, or how they work throughout India. Education is such a beautiful thing and I loved experiencing it in India. I will continue to miss and reflect on my experience. I will miss the importance and passion of the teachers. This is something I will continue to think about and reflect on my own disposition in the classroom. I want to be able to bring the excitement and passion I have for education to my students, similarly to the way they do. I will continue to build and grow in my educational philosophy, including my knowledge I have gained from India.


Meryl Barnes ~ Goodbye India

My time in India is officially over. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. I have seen, done and experienced so many amazing things, that I would not have been able to accomplish without this trip. The Mizzou Teach Abroad trip, provided me with the ability to go into an education system in a whole different country. I spoke in previous blogs about the joy and excitement the students exhibit every day at school. It is the most magical thing to see, in addition to the passion and dedication of the teachers. Being in DPS-East, was such a beautiful and amazing experience. From the Principal to the students, everyone was so welcoming. There was always a smiling face, someone saying “hi” or someone trying to make us feel welcome in our schools. Saying goodby to my students, teachers and principals on Friday was one of the hardest things. Knowing that I may never see my students again, was such a sad realization. I will miss being Meryl Ma’am and seeing the students become so excited to see me when I walk into the classroom.
The biggest part of our India trip was Sheral. I will never be able to show my gratitude to her and GenNext for this part in our experience. They facilitated our cultural excursions, our times in the school and helping us with anything we needed. One of the most beautiful things about India, is the people and GenNext, Sheral and the people in our schools were amazing examples of this. I have never felt so welcomed and wanted in an environment.
This experience has included learning, immersion, creativity, culture and an abundance of shopping. This was a new experience for me, as I have never been out of the country without my family. I have learned to adapt into a new situation in a different country. This has been a great learning experience, seeing a different education system, curriculum and teaching styles have assisted in my thoughts on education. I have taken in so much and will be bringing that to my classes at Mizzou and future classrooms. Being able to figure out and create my own experience in India, is a great part of this trip.
There is such a rich history in India, which has stayed even through the British rule. Seeing the palace in Mysore, then later going to the Bangalore Palace and connecting the history was an amazing experience. There is such a deep history in the two palaces that continued through the British rule. The colors and beautiful artwork was another great part of seeing the palaces. There is beauty and history everywhere in India.
I will miss waking up in such a beautiful country. Everything in India combines together to make a magical country. From the welcoming people to the colors that are around the city. I will miss being at Casa Cottage and being able to walk and rickshaw around India. Every place we have been has been such a different but wonderful adventure. India was such a magical experience, something I will be grateful to have for the rest of my life.

Meryl Barnes ~ Week 5

This fifth week in India was amazing, we saw ELEPHANTS. It was so amazing to see a real life elephant up close and touch them. It was something I never expected to happen and was an experience of learning new things. Seeing such a majestic creature in person was astonishing. This is an experience I have always wanted, and loved so much. The monastery we saw afterwards was such a beautiful place. The statues and art work took great craftsmanship. There are so many beautiful things and creatures that we have experienced and seen in India.
My school experience has been an amazing one. I love going into my classrooms UKG B and 2H. The students are my favorite part. Seeing their excited faces when I come into the classroom, is an amazing way to start each day. Being Meryl Ma’am has become a part of my India trip and something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Every one of my students have made a meaningful impact on my experience. They are such intelligent children who enjoy their school experience. It is amazing to see and experience students who are constantly feeling joy at school.
In Kindergarten this week, in addition to more cheerleading practices there was cricket tryouts. I have never watched cricket and have no idea how to play, however watching the students was a learning experience. I learned certain parts of playing cricket, like what bowling is and how they are supposed to hold the bat. This is something I have always wanted to do, play or see cricket in India. Seeing 4 and 5 year olds play, is an experience. Some students were extremely engaged while others wanted to play in the dirt. This was an experience showing how young the students are, sometimes I forget this with their advanced curriculum.
One of my favorite experiences in the school, was playing Simon says with 2H. Some of the students had played before, so explaining it was easier than the game heads up seven up. It was a wonderful experience. The students were extremely engaged and although we only had twenty minutes it was a fun exciting twenty minutes. The students were smiling and excited to play, making me smile. It is something that I will remember for ever. My goal as an educator is to make students smile and love being at school and this experience showed me all the ways I can.
I am cherishing every moment of India. In this last week I’m excited for our presentation illustrating all we have done and learned during this experience. It’s hard to believe that this is the last week of the journey. It has been such a beautiful experience, one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It has not only impacted my educational beliefs and future career but my personal being. I am gaining an abundance of knowledge I can use in my future classroom, especially the concept of nonfire cooking. This is an amazing way to have the students involved in cooking and having fun in the classroom. I will remember this and have this in my future classroom.

Meryl Barnes ~ Delhi Week 4

This past week has been an amazing experience, something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Although I was sad missing a few days of school, my time in Delhi was an experience of a lifetime. Being able to interact with other preservice teachers at Amity university, gave me a deeper understanding of where my host teachers at DPS-East began their journeys as educators. It is always great to see the beginnings of educators and how their time as preservice teachers leads them to be the teachers they will be in the future. Seeing the run down of their program, it is nice that they get the opportunity to see both government schools and the private institutions. For me being versatile and being able to teach in any institution makes for a great and understanding teacher.
The heat in Delhi is nothing anyone can be prepared for. From the first moments stepping off the plane it was like walking into an inferno. Seeing the abundance of people, it amazes me that they live in the heat throughout the year. Although it was hot, there was so many things to see and experience. Making baring the heat worth the experience. There were so many amazing sights and places to shop. I enjoyed bargaining and experiencing a different shopping experience than the ones I had in Bangalore. In addition to the shopping, North Indian food is amazing. From our first moments eating at Amity University to the dinners at our hotel, there was such a delicious variety of food.
The Taj Mahal was my favorite experience in Delhi. There is so much rich history behind the creation of the monument, and such a beautiful love story as well. From the moments stepping through the gates, it was breathtaking. Still beautifully white, with such craftsmanship in all of the little details. Learning that the Taj took twenty two years to create and other than the first few years that went to creating the actual building, the rest went into making the details. The art in the Taj of that is stones inlayed in the marble structure is something that continues to amaze me. To further our knowledge on this type of art, our tour guide took us to a shop where they showed us how the art is created and the history behind the art. As a dying form of art, it saddens me to know that the art style that created the Taj Mahal will soon be extinct as the families have no one interested in keeping the art form alive.
India is such a beautiful place with many histories and cultures. Being in Agra and seeing two different type of art was inspiring. There is such dedication to each form. Seeing works of art that take extreme hours and months to create is something that continues to inspire and amaze me. There were so many sights to see and experience. I am extremely lucky to be able to have this experience and see the Taj Mahal.

Meryl Barnes ~ Halfway Point!

As the weeks continue in India, I am continuously grateful that I am able to have this experience. There is so much I have been able to see and experience. I love being able to go to markets and be immersed in the shopping experience. This weekend we were able to learn from Sheral how to tie our sarees and have a “photoshoot.” Tying the saree was such a difficult task for me, it amazes me that women wear sarees every day. It was such a fun day being in our sarees, we were such a colorful rainbow.
This was our second full weeks in the schools and it is such a wonderful experience. There is so much to experience within in the schools. In addition to teaching lessons, I have been able to see an assembly for doctors day and cheerleading tryouts. With the doctors day assembly it was amazing to see how they teach their kindergarten students about healthy habits and how to stay healthy. The students were engaged with learning about coughing in their elbow, drinking lots of water and eating fruits and vegetables. It’s awesome how they celebrated doctors day, through showing their students how to maintain healthy. It was also great to be a part of the cheerleading tryout experience. I was able to assist the teachers in choosing students from the LKG and UKG classes to be cheerleaders during their international sports day in September. The students were able to follow the teacher leading the tryout in the moves they needed to accomplish. It was such a fun experience to have and being able to interact with all the students was amazing.
During my time in second grade it is fun to teach the lessons, however what I will remember most is my interactions with the students and playing games during their last period. It is so much fun teaching the students to play heads up seven up or hang man. What makes me smile the most is when the students come up to me and are so excited to play the games again.
However out of all of this my favorite part again is being able to interact with the students and teachers. It’s so great that the students have learned my name and that I am learning theirs. Having a set “fluid” schedule is also something that has helped me interact and be engaged with the same students. I am learning so much from everyone in the schools and I am so excited to teach more lessons and experience other things.
As I think about it being the half way point of our trip, it saddens me. There is so much that we have experienced and are going to experience in the next few weeks that make me sad to go home. I am super excited for our trip to Delhi and being able to experience another part of India. For these next three weeks I am going to make the most of this experience and take everything in. Living in the moment will be my motto for the rest of my India trip.

Meryl Barnes ~ Week 2 Bangalore

It has been an amazing two weeks in India. As I grow more comfortable in my surroundings, it is amazing to grow in my sense of freedom. Being able to go out with a few others and being able make our way through the city on our own is something that is amazing to experience. It is interesting to walk around and take in the sights of the city. As I think and reflect on the past two weeks, I think about how this experience is something that will make a lasting impact on my life. There are so many wonderful things going on in the city, it is such a green city. The restaurants and shops have reusable products or products that are not made of plastic. It is amazing to see that a big city is creating a climate for green change. 
Being in the schools and having a set class and teacher is amazing. I am learning so much from the experience and being able to interact with the students and teachers. This past week I was able to prepare and teach two lessons, and it is different. In the US, my lessons were something that involved group work and activities, however when planing my lesson here is stemmed from the textbook. It is something that I believe is helpful to reflect on as an educator and seeing how different students react to different types of lessons. It was hard at first, however as I reflected during my lesson planning process it was clear to me that the students are in a different learning environment than I am used to and that it is important to meet the needs of the students. Another process was actually teaching the lesson. It is difficult keeping the interest of 38 four and a half year olds. It is also difficult to keep the interest of 38 second standard students. Some of the students that I taught the lesson to, it was my first time in their classroom. They did not know me, and the way the class is run is different than what I was used to. A chorus of “Mam!” was exclaimed every time a student had something to say. This takes some getting used to, it is also just amazing to see the thoughts of the students. They shout out whatever comes to mind on the topic. It is an environment where learning is always taking place and the students are actively engaged with their thoughts on the topic. 
Yesterday and today were amazing experiences. We went to the movies to see Toy Story 4 and the movie experience was something totally different than what I have ever experienced. Before the movie, the Indian national anthem played and everyone stood at attention as it played. In addition to the national anthem, exactly halfway through the movie there was an intermission. Something that was great for those who needed to get more snacks or use the restroom. It was an amazing experience to have. Today we went to a market and it was an amazing way to see the way people shop here. During our time at the market, we were able to bargain for lower prices and see so many different things. Before the market, we were able to visit a temple and participate in a puja. Being in the temple and seeing the beautiful altars and the service is an experience I will never forget. These weeks are helping me live in the moment and grow as an educator and person. 

Meryl ~ One Week Down…Five to Go!

The journey and the first week in India have been an amazing experience. I have experienced so many new things, that have made a great impact on my life. The journey here was a long one, being on the plane for so many hours and in Heathrow Airport for six hours was something I was not prepared for. The last time I was on a plane for that long of a period was in 2008. However, the long journey was worth it because India is beautiful and vibrant. There is so much culture and color within the city of Bangalore. From the first moments we left the airport and began the drive to Casa Cottages, there were so many sights to take in and witness. For the past week, the sights have continued as we have traveled and seen so many things. Beginning with our first dinner, we got to walk to the restaurant and see the city. Bangalore is a beautiful city, with an abundance of people.
The traffic, a glorious symphony of cars and motorcycles driving in a way that does not seem that there are not even traffic laws. It is so interesting to see the different ways that people drive. There does not seem like the roads have lines or that the cars would follow the lines if there was any. It was an amazing experience to take a rickshaw and be extremely close to the traffic. I could see the cars and motorcycles zooming by and weaving in and out of traffic. I could see the people walking in and out of traffic, something that is amazing to see as no one gets hit by the passing cars. There are no crosswalks, so people just walk when they believe traffic is dying down. It is something that is scary to do the first time, however it got easier as we continue to cross the street.
Visiting the schools was an amazing experience, they were all so different and had different views of education. It is so interesting that some of the schools have over seven thousand students, and four hundred teachers. It is also extremely different from our American education system. At DPS-East, the school that I am at for the duration of this trip, it is such a big and beautiful campus. There are so many students and teachers. As an early childhood education major, I focus on birth through third grade, meaning I get to see DPS-East’s version of Kindergarten. Kindergarten at this school is comprised of Nursery, LKG (lower Kindergarten) and UKG (upper Kindergarten). These students range from 2.5 years old to 5.5 years old. This would be considered preschool in the US. It is interesting to see the curriculum for these students, as there are no toys around the Nursery classroom, and they are beginning their journey as writers. Something that I would wish to see in the classrooms is play. A part of my philosophy as an educator is that play has a role in the classroom all the way up until third grade. It is amazing to see the students in action within the classroom, and the students show how bright they are consistently. It is amazing to see these students work within the classroom.
On Friday June 21st it was International Yoga Day, the Kindergarten had an assembly showcasing two students from each class demonstrating different poses in yoga. It was such an amazing experience to see the students doing yoga. All the students got to participate in yoga after the assembly and it was amazing to see the importance of yoga within the classroom.

Meryl Barnes 4 days and 27 min….

As the time draws nearer to the time where we will be in India, I grow in my excitement and anticipation of this experience. I am excited to be immersed in a new culture, and am preparing to learn a few phrases in a new language. It is extremely exciting to me that I will get to spend six weeks in India. I have traveled abroad before, but only for a few weeks. Being able to spend an extended time, even if only six weeks, in India I believe that I will be able to really experience the cultural aspects of India. It is important to me that I am able to immerse myself in this new culture.

I am more excited to experience a new school system and interact with the students and teachers at DPS-East. I believe that there is so much I can learn from being in the classroom, that I can take back and implement into my student teaching and future classroom. As an educator I believe that it is important to experience different cultures and school environments, so that you can learn about how you believe education should be presented for your students or the educational environment you want to teach in. As an early childhood education major, there are so many things we learn about in our classroom that are not seen in the American classroom. I am excited to see if they are utilized in the classrooms in India. I am excited to see the students on their first days of school in preschool and in their kindergarten years. Something that is extremely important to me is being able to see students experience their first days of school and seeing how different students interact with their first days. I am super excited to be in the schools in India and can not wait to interact with students and teachers.

In the preparations for my trip, it is all becoming real. It is real that I am going to India in four days, and it is real that I will need to have everything packed in the next four days. As a person in general, I am a procrastinator and this is no different. I was so excited when I first received the notice that I was going to India, that I was ready to begin my packing list and begin shopping for my trip. I had an idea of what my personal style for India would be, but as the trip draws nearer, I am excited to purchase clothes there. I am ready to be immersed in every aspect of culture from food to clothing. This will be an experience I will always cherish for the rest of my life. It is extremely important to me that I keep an open mind while in India, and I believe that there is so much to learn from this cultural experience. As I procrastinate in my packing, I grow excited that in just a few days I will be in a new country that I have never been to before.