final blog – dallin r.

The reintegration period into American life- more specifically University life- has been very rushed, yet very productive. Growth means having more and more things to take care of. The energy of being in India, and the knowledge of the experience of being somewhere else in the world, has been motivating me to try to take care of as many things as I possibly can to get my life to where I need it to be. Though it’s a constructive journey, it’s difficult.

But difficulty doesn’t equal negative. It means having to defeat more obstacles, and gain more muscle, and slay more dragons. And even though I might slip and fall, that doesn’t mean I’m on the wrong path. It just means I need to get better shoes.

I wouldn’t be able to look forward to the budding experience of being in the classrooms here in Columbia with as much vigor and excitement if i didn’t have the chance to be at Vidyashilp. Being fully immersed in a school for the entire school day, learning how to collaborate with teachers, and all around being an active part of a school community gave me the best primer possible for being an active student teacher in a school here in Columbia.

The mountain climb of finishing a degree is painful, but so worth it. All I have to do is look back on all I’ve overcome to be able to be here, and it gives me just that much more strength to continue forward. And the continuing forward part is what’s important.

Going to India was a step forward. Coming back was a step forward. This semester, and any that follow, is a step forward. Working after my graduation is many step forwards.

Success isn’t getting to one point and being able to say you’re there. It’s about looking back, no matter where you are on your journey, and saying, “I’ve done all that.” That’s success.


Laura Bierman, Blog #8 Final Blog

WOW! Somehow the weeks since I’ve been back in America have truly flown by. I feel like it was just yesterday I was teaching my 3rd graders the different types of adjectives, walking alongside the indescribable traffic, or packing my bags to head home. I know I’ve said this before, but I am truly so grateful to have had this experience in India. Most people are not fortunate enough to say that they not only spent 7 weeks in India, but they TAUGHT for 7 weeks in India. Tomorrow, I begin my first day of Student Teaching and I feel so at ease knowing the valuable experience I gained teaching this summer. If I could manage a classroom of 40 students, a class of 17 should be a breeze!! (right?!?!!!)

The second I got home, everybody asked, “How was India?” which was such a challenging question. How do I sum up a life changing, 7-week experience into a short conversation? I would do my best to tell them the most exciting parts of the trip and show them pictures but to be honest, the most influential parts of the trip were the small pieces that didn’t make it to the conversation. They were the moments my students gave me the BIGGEST hug because they didn’t want me to leave. Or the moments laughing with my teachers about something funny a student said. Or the laughs I shared with everyone on my trip around the dinner table. They were the small moments that made this trip what it was. I wish I wore a “Go Pro” on my forehead everyday so everybody could really get a glimpse into “how India was”!

I think about my students and teachers at AECS Magnolia very often. The way they welcomed me into their school with wide arms and the way they went out of their way to help me with quite literally anything left a lasting impact on me. I will never forget the smiles that formed on students faces as I walked the hallways or the endless waves I received every day. As I start Student Teaching tomorrow, I can assure you I will not receive nearly the number of waves as I did at Magnolia. What I can assure you of though is that I will carry the skills of classroom management and forming meaningful, lasting relationships with my students and teachers back home. I am so ready to apply these this year!

Traveling to India will be an experience I share with my future students for endless years to come. I’m looking forward to sharing pictures with them from when I visited the Taj Mahal, had an elephant trunk on my head, played basketball outside with my students, taught them English, successfully took on the crazy traffic of India, shopped (of course!), and every single other amazing thing I was able to experience. Who knows, maybe one day I will have a student from India enter my classroom…and that day will be SUCH a special day for not only me, but for them.

One last HUGE thank you to my amazing teachers, students, Sheral, Chad, my fellow classmates, The Smiths, and my mom. Without you all, this trip would not have been what it was.

Gabriella Miller Blog #8: Final Thoughts

After a few weeks of being back in the United States, it feels like India was some type of strange dream. Arriving in the Saint Louis airport seemed truly unreal to me. I knew when I stepped outside everything I would see would be completely different from what I had finally gotten used to in India. I did not see the beautiful tropical plants, I did not see many people out and about even late at night, and I did not have the same incredible feeling of being somewhere new.

When I arrived home, I was extremely happy to see my family and friends, but I could not shake this sad feeling of missing India. What I quickly realized was how weird I felt about everything around me at home. In India, I had finally gotten used to the noises, the landscape, and how to navigate the city. After being home in Columbia, Missouri for a few days, I noticed how much I had to re-acclimate myself to my life that seemed so normal before. For instance, I had to get used to driving and walking on the right side of everything instead of the left. I had to get used to actually driving myself places, and not having to plan extra time to get there due to the traffic. I also had to get used to no longer having naan, chutney, and dosas (which was something I have been pretty sad about). Getting used to my “normal” life here in the States is definitely an experience in itself, but it made me continually miss everything about India.

In addition to all of the sensory aspects I had to get used to again, I also realized how incredibly hard it is not to see my teacher mentors and students every day that are back in India. Over the six weeks, I was lucky to build many strong relationships that will last me a lifetime. It is difficult for me to think that I will not be able to see these incredible individuals probably for a long time from now, if at all. I am constantly thinking about the students and teachers and how they are doing. Luckily, I communicate with my mentor and host teacher Roopa, and she always tells me what the children are doing and how they are succeeding. It makes me long to go back to India and wish my time there had not gone by so fast.

This year, I finally get to apply everything that I have learned from this experience. I am also excited to continue to share with my host teacher in India what we are doing here in our classrooms as she shares with me what they are doing all the way across the world. It is amazing to see how much I have grown and learned from my time in India. I have honestly grown in ways I never thought I would. No matter how many stories I tell, or pictures I show, I can never express to anyone exactly how much the people that I met and the experiences that I had have changed me for the better. I am truly thankful and blessed for the trip and the lifelong impact it has made on me as a person. I know one day I will return to India and experience the beautiful country again.

“Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end; it simply means I’ll miss you until we meet again.”

Elena Bernstein, Final Blog

It’s crazy to think that I’ve been home from India for almost a month.  Adjusting back to things in the United States has been great, but I think about my trip every single day.  What are my students learning?  How is my teacher?  Does Sheral have a new group to take care of?  I always find myself wondering and reminiscing over pictures, videos, and memories.  It’s still so sad that it’s over.    

My friends and family were interested in all of my stories and photos, but it’s hard to actually explain everything I did and saw within those six weeks.  Plus, you really only have a few seconds to answer the question, “How was India?” because most people don’t want to hear much after “It was amazing!”.  And of course, I understand that.  But it’s hard to even find a few key sentences to sum up my unforgettable summer.   

I am so anxious to get started with my new elementary school for the year.  I already know that I will be comparing each and every thing that my students and teacher do, back to my experience in the schools in India.  Even though I already know all the similarities and differences between U.S. and India schools, I am excited to be reminded of certain things that make me think of India during my day.

I have tried to remain in contact with my teacher by sending her photos of me to show the students and just a little bit of what I’ve been up to since I got home.  I miss everyone so much!

There are so many ways in which I feel different after being back home.  I have a deeper appreciation for other cultures, I do not want to take the luxuries I have for granted, I have a stronger admiration for the people of India that I never thought I would, and I feel solidified in my decision of getting my master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language. 

The one thing that I am most excited about is getting back in the classroom and seeing how I’ve truly changed as an educator.  I am eager to implement all of the different strategies and lessons I learned while at DPS East.  I hope that my experience being in another country will help contribute to my ability to form deep, long-lasting relationships with each of my unique students.

 Although I’ve said this in previous blogs, a piece of my heart will forever remain in India.  As time goes on, people will care less and less about my experiences.  But every time I think about my summer, I smile.  I will never get enough of my pictures and reliving it all over again.  In a way, six weeks felt long, but it actually wasn’t enough time.  I wish I could have one more day at DPS East, laughing with my students and Vinita.  I wish I could have one more group dinner at Bangalore Brew Works and talking with Bijoy.  I wish I could have one more sleep at Casa and hearing all the sounds and smells of Bangalore. 

I will miss this place forever. ‘Til we meet again, India!

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.

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.

Final Reflection: Kelley Fowler

            It is crazy to think that it has already been more than a week since I have left India. It was so hard leaving Bangalore after six weeks. I never thought that I would become so attached to such a faraway place, but India is truly such a special place and the people are truly one of a kind. I learned so much during my short time in India but I learned three very important things from the principals, teachers, and students.

            First, I learned the importance of leading others with humility and kindness. I was privileged enough to form relationships with the amazing principals at my school and witness the way that they lead others. For example, Manju Ma’am has the biggest heart and is so passionate about DPS. She started a fundraising campaign for one of her students who was diagnosed with cancer to pay for their medical bills and then continued to raise more money for other children diagnosed with cancer who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. She cares so much about others and shows such kindness to every person in the school community. Additionally, I have learned so much from Geeta Ma’am who became like a second mom to me during my time at DPS-North. She knows every member of the school community including the Aunties, canteen workers, teachers, students and shows such respect to each person. She makes every person feel important and respected no matter their position. For example, each week Geeta Ma’am sold food to the students and staff that she brought from home. She knew every student or staff member who bought food from her. It was amazing to see how kind and loving she was with each student. 

            Secondly, I learned from all the amazing Special Education teachers in the Kindergarten block about how to effectively teach content in creative ways. One of my teachers, Saumya Ma’am, taught math to first through second graders. She made every one of her classes interactive and creative by incorporating manipulatives or fun counting songs. She always had such a positive attitude and was so loving to each of her students. I am going to miss her and all of the other teachers in the Special Education department. They made me feel a part of the team and they are all phenomenal educators!

            Finally, my students reminded me of the joy that can come from learning. My students in the resource room were the most rambunctious, loving, kind and intelligent group of students whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to teach. Each day was filled with new discoveries and they always had so many questions which made each lesson exciting! They challenged me to think more deeply about things and present content in new ways. 

            I am grateful for this experience of a life time! I am so thankful to the College of Education and all of the donors who made this experience possible. Finally, I am grateful to the principals, teachers and students at DPS-North who welcomed us with open arms into their community. I will never forget this experience and my amazing time in India!

Our amazing principal and Special Education Coordinator
My sweet teacher, Saumya
The whole group at Breworks on our last night in Bangalore.
Courtyard at Bangalore Palace

Emma Graul Blog #7: 30 Hours Left

Well, we made it. We survived 24 hours of plane rides, 200 hours of teaching, and 45 days in India. The final day felt so far away at the start of the journey but now is upon us within a blink of an eye. Leaving is bittersweet. I cannot wait to go back home and see my family, but sad to leave my school, teachers, and Sheral. This past week was filled with many emotions and happy memories

School this week was normal but full of many “lasts”. It was out last monday, my last masala dosa, my last time driving to school, and my last time with my students. The last week had many students asking, “Ma’am, can you please stay another week? How about you come back in 2 months? A year?”. Just when I started to get really comfortable and created amazing connections with the students, it was time to pack our bags and head home. It was also hard to leave the amazing teachers ans staff at DPS North. My teacher and I become close friends and got into an amazing groove co-teaching. All the staff at my school were so friendly and always made sure I was fed well and taken care of. The vice principal, Geetha, was outstanding and even made me and Kelley food during the week. It is sad to leave her and all the other incredible people I met here. 

Keyboard class

Our goodbye presentation was filled with tears as we finally closed the India chapter of our lives (at least for now). Everyone shared how this experience shaped their lives and their gratitude for every person who was involved in this trip. Over the past 6 weeks, I have grown as a teacher and a person. I have learned patience, kindness, and gratitude. 40 shouting kids in a classroom is overwhelming but eventually I learned to be patient and answer their questions or grade their books. Everyone here has treated us with nothing but kindness and has changed my entire perspective on how I want to treat others. Finally, I have learned to be thankful. Thankful for what I have, where I live, and thankful for all the amazing people I have met in India. I cannot thank Sheral enough for being our India mom and making sure we are safe and having the best time of our lives. I am thankful for Chad for leaving his family and coming with us to India. I am thankful for my group; I have made some lifelong friends and some unforgettable memories with them. From late night dance parties in room 5 to petting elephants, we have grown together and I will cherish every memory. 

The DPS North crew

Describing our time here is hard to put into words. I am still growing and learning from this experience. This quote from the song ‘For Good’ from the musical Wicked sums up my experience in India:

“It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime.

So, let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you.

You’ll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have rewritten mine

By being my friend”

Me and Sheral

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.

Gabriella Miller Blog #7: My Final Goodbyes

Here we are… we made it to our final day in Bangalore, India. This past week has been filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. During the week, I spent every day in my classrooms at Magnolia taking in every moment I could. I spent time interacting with the students, teaching, and being around my teachers as much as I could. On Thursday, I also got the opportunity to spend a fun day with my second grade classes on their field trip to the movie theater. When we went to see the Lion King, the children were all excited to have me there with them and were even more excited to see the movie in 3-D. Because all of the days this week were full of fun events and memories, the week flew by. In a blink of an eye, it was already Friday. 

On Friday morning, Laura and I decided to wear our saris to school as our final hoorah. When we got there, some of our teachers were kind enough to wrap us in the fabric and make us feel special for wearing the traditional Indian wear. When we walked in the halls, the students and other teachers were sweet and supportive of us wearing our saris. The only problem was when students approached us and asked what the occasion was for wearing it, I had to tell them that it was my final day at Magnolia.

Going around to each of my classes for the last time on Friday was one of the saddest days that I have had in awhile. My students kept asking me when I was coming back to India, or why I had to leave. They wrote me cute notes, gave me their parents phone numbers, and would tell me not to be sad (since most of the day I was crying). All that went through my mind was how much I was going to miss all of them and how hard it was to leave them. On top of this, I had to say goodbye to each of my teachers that I worked with over these six weeks. As I gave them all hugs along with reassurance to keep in contact, I cried many tears. My teachers have unexpectedly become some of the biggest mentors in my life. Looking back, I never thought that I would be emotional by the end. These relationships that I had made sneakily became some of the strongest ones that I’ve ever had. As Friday ended with a farewell party put on by our teachers for us, I realized how lucky I am to have met these incredible people and to have them in my life.

My time here in India has been so outstanding that I cannot even put it into words. I feel as if I finally have begun to feel comfortable with the people, customs, and everyday living here and now our trip is over. I do not think I can ever fully express how thankful I am to be able to have this journey in India. It has been such a transformative, life changing experience for me, and I believe this trip has made a positive impact on who I am as a person. I will truly miss all of the smiling faces of students, the constant noise of the city, and our fun roomie nights in our cozy little home at Casa Cottage. I will never forget the people I have met here and their impact that they have made in my life. Thank you to everyone who made my time in India amazing (my group, Sheral from Gen Next, my students, and my teachers), and to the people who supported me in getting to India in the first place. While I have been here, I have made so many memories and strong relationships that will last me a lifetime. With this in mind, all I have to say is that even though it is hard to say goodbye, I know that I will always have a piece of India in my heart forever.