After our first night of sleeping for no more than 30 minutes on a rocky bus or a plane with a screaming baby, we were reluctant to wake up as we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Luckily our attitudes were quickly changed as we entered the school grounds and were clapped onto stage during morning assembly. We received an overwhelmingly warm welcome from the children who handed us bouquets of roses individually and sang us an original English song they made to wish us a good stay and to thank us, which brought some of us to tears (*cough cough* Abir). Then we all, perhaps slightly awkwardly, introduced ourselves to the 3000 beaming faces in front of us. Mrs Sanchez then presented the Head, Usha Raman, with a framed picture of scenes from Mill Hill school which was greatly appreciated. The excellent hospitality and gratitude we received from all the children and staff within the first 5 minutes of meeting them was truly unbelievable and something we will never forget. After a couple minutes of returning to the cool comfort of the air conditioned room to gather our resources, we went straight into teaching. The excitement bubbling in the children as we lined up was almost too much to the point where they were tripping over themselves running towards us. Following our intense lessons, which mainly consisted of everyone just getting to know each other and crowds of children asking for autographs and stickers, we returned to the dining hall for a ‘reflection’ session. In this everyone shared what went really well in their lessons, and what perhaps could have been improved, but overall the general consensus was that it was a fun and new experience and the kids were very friendly.
In the evening we went to the Tirunelveli town to have a look around and visit Pothys (the department store). It was the first time that we had actually been taken away from the school and fully immersed in the culture as we fought our way through the bustling streets of Tamil Nadu. We met a multitude of people on our excursion, from women braiding jasmine flowers into our hair, to men selling curious looking street food and lastly queues of people desperate to take pictures with Issy’s long blonde hair. After waiting dangerously on the side of the road, we boarded the bus and went back to the school.
It was a tiring day for all of us but overall was definitely an amazing start to what looks like it will be a trip we’ll never forget.
-Faith and Matilde