Tonight was the night of our grand SPRING AWARDS CEREMONY! The children's performances were phenomenal, and I was highly impressed at their level of skill and professionalism throughout the show. While their dances, songs, and poems were, of course, magnificent, it was also especially touching to see older students helping those younger with their hair and make-up, and reminding them when it was their turn to go on.

The night was fun for all, and performances were followed with dinner for students and their family members. Many proud parents approached me and thanked me for knowledge and enjoyment offered to their kids by Gyaan Ghar! I look forward to seeing the students one last time before I leave tomorrow morning.

Preparations . . .

The kids came over around 5 today (they had already attended class as usual in the morning while I was en route from Chandigarh), and we enjoyed an afternoon of laughter and games. When Priya and I arrived, we implored the students to show us the choreographed dances they had been preparing for the upcoming show. Kajal Didi, however, insisted that they surprise us at the Annual Spring Awards Ceremony to be held tomorrow. Shivani and Divya did, though, give us a sneak preview of one combination set to the classic "Piya Piya."

We commenced game time with a rousing tournament of Rock, Paper, Scissors -- the old favorite. Manisha was declared the winner.

Next was another Name Game. Each student had to introduce herself and choose one object she had "bought" from the "market," starting with the same letter as her name. For example, Ratna bought rasmalai, Parveen a pineapple, Savita a cycle, etc. Each student would then have to recall the names and articles bought of each of the students prior to herself (making the activity very challenging indeed for those whose turn came later). What was amazing was that Jyoti, one of the very youngest, was last in the circle, and was the only student to name all her classmates and their purchases without any hesitation or outside help!

Following this exercise were Follow the Leader and Ratna Didi Says -- with students facilitating both. We were then called outside by Gill Auntie for a short dress rehearsal, during which some of the boys showed me their Bhangra moves. Needless to say, I was highly impressed.

Felicitations . . .

Students started today with Bhangra drill: the Dholi (drummer) arrived around 8 to teach the children some typical moves. He was followed, shortly thereafter, by a "Pand" troupe -- a traveling players ensemble of traditional Punjabi entertainers. This group regaled the class with riddles and jokes, and had us all keeled over with laughter.

We retired to the classroom to play a few quick student-led games before we had to say goodbye as I departed for Chandigarh. Students will be working hard over the next few days as they prepare for next week's Awards Ceremony. In this spirit, we had a brief discussion on what constitutes a captivating stage presence ... which I'm sure these kids will have mastered by the time of the show!!

I can't wait to be back!

Salutations . . .

It's so great to be home and back in the classroom! I am very proud that Gyaan Ghar students remain engaged, motivated, and highly excited about learning. They are currently on holiday, and come to class at 10 every morning, brushing up on academia and participating in additional activities for about two hours daily.

Today's class started with the washing and drying of chairs to be used in the lawn at our annual Spring Awards Ceremony on the 31st. Once this had been done, the students welcomed me into the classroom to catch me up on what this exciting year has held, and to introduce me to their new classmates.

We spent most of the lesson playing icebreaker games, including the Name Game; Ratna Didi Says (our version of Simon Says); Follow the Leader; and Rock, Paper, Scissors. I was pleased to see students (some of whom were new to these activities) volunteering to lead the games, rather than simply following along.

Next, students separated into smaller groups to start practicing their individual performances for next Thursday's Awards Ceremony. I sat down to chat with our oldest student, Vandna (grade 9) about how her year was going. Vandna joined Gyaan Ghar last year after attending our Spring Awards Ceremony as an invitee of her friend Kajal. She had approached me after the ceremony to share with me what an inspiration our school had been to her, even though she was not formally enrolled. She joined soon afterward, and I am pleased to see that she seems to be enjoying not only her time here at the Learning Center, but also her experience at her full-time public high school. Her hunger for education was very inspiring and reinvigorating to me, and I was lucky to have had a chance to talk to her for a few minutes about school, work, and life.