Davis Peace Project

I’m not sure that many people still follow my blog now that I’m back in the states, however, I wanted to post the summary of my time in India that wast posted on the Davis Peace Project’s web-site.  If you are still following check it out!

Davis Peace Project

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Touring India!

During my last several days in India I had the opportunity to tour through India with the last session of Rising Star volunteers!  It was a blast getting to see another part of the country especially after working so hard all summer.  It was a wonderful way to end the summer.

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How Do You Say Goodbye?

How to do say goodbye to the people who have become not only good friends but family?  How do you say goodbye to people who you have watched grow and change, that you have laughed with and cried with and watch grow up?   For me leaving Rising Star was like leaving 180 of my own children behind.  I love those kids so much and I miss them more than words can say.  I miss seeing Vanamalar get so excited to dance, I miss seeing Praveen in his little white shoes, that get him in trouble everyday because they aren’t part of the dress code, and I miss seeing Joseph dance to Singum Singum.   I miss Vijaylakshmi’s hugs and kisses, Malavika’s quiet and smart way of answering a question, and Kanmani Devins mischievous ways.    I  will miss Ragikumari and Kala, Maran, Manjula and Swathy.  I miss my friends in the colonies especially Damardon and Krishnamoorthy and as I am now back in the states millions and millions of miles away all I can do is send them my love,  pray for them and send them love.   I love the people I was working with this summer, I don’t have great eloquent words to share  about how I feel except for the fact that I love them and miss them all tremendously.

Saying goodbye to Damradon

Before I left Manjula and the Peery Matriculation school surprised me with honoring me at the morning assembly.  After morning announcements Manjula announced my departure.  She came forward with a beautiful silver shawl and a small shell with my name engraved on the top and presented it to me.  The students all in unison thanked me  and as we all started singing the national anthem I got tears in my eyes.  I was totally taken back by their gratitude.  I love the people of India.  They will be in my heart forever.

After the assembly

Manjula and I

Being honored at the assembly

There were a lot of moments this summer that I was filled with tremendous joy and other moments where all I could do was cry.  This was a summer full of hard work, intense emotion, lots of love and Thousands and Thousands of tiny miracles!

Joy

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“I Can Choose to Let my Light Shine.”

This summer Shiloh and I taught all 180 Rising Star Students a song written by our friend and the founder of the Promethean Spark dance methodology, Shaun Parry.  It is entitled: I’m a Rising Star.  During playtime one afternoon my friend Dani recorded one of the smartest and sweetest little girls at the school, Maryiembee singing the entire song.  Maryiembee is out of tune and you can’t hear the melody because she is so flat, however, it is beautiful to me.  Maryiembee is a Rising Star just like all 180 students at the Perry Matriculation School are.  I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to work here this summer.  I have learned so much from the patients in the colonies, the children at the school, the many amazing volunteers that have come and gone and most importantly from my Heavenly Father.  I have learned that we really all are God’s Children.  I can not explain the great inequalities of life but I do know that each person has the ability to make a difference in this life if we but let our light shine, even in the darkest of night.

I’M A RISING STAR

Written by: Shaun Parry

I am free to be all I can be.

I love life and I love being me.

I can choose to let my light shine.

The world is waiting.

Whose turn is it? Mine!

I’m a rising, rising star.

I’m a rising, rising star.

Spread the word near and far.

I’m a rising (rising) star.

I will live like the sun sharing light.

I will shine in the darkest of night.

I will laugh and learn and through any strife,

Live a long, happy, healthy and loving life.

I’m a rising, rising star.

I’m a rising, rising star.

Spread the word near and far.

I’m a rising (rising) star.

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What do you do on your last day in India?

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Pictures taken by Jennie Doezie

WHAT TO DO YOUR LAST DAY IN INDIA:

1-Go shopping in Chengulpute.

2-Say goodbye to Vail.

3-go on an early morning walk through the village.

4-Say goodbye to the Rising Star office Staff.

5-Take a couple of pictures with them for good measure.

6-Make sure one of the pictures is taken in the traditional Indian manner…no smiles.

7-Teach a dance class to all of the students and volunteers.

8-Have a big dance party with all of the students!

9-Say goodbye to Ragikumari and Kala.

10- Say goodbye to the boys.

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The Final Performance

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Pictures Taken By: Jennie Doezie

The week before I left India I helped put together one last performance for the Rising Star students.  They all wore their special dance T-shirts and they all looked adorable.  The show consisted of a couple of traditional dances in honor of Independence day along with a couple of numbers performed by the Life Dance Troupe.  Along with these numbers I had all of the older students perform exercises that we had worked on in class over the summer.    I chose a leader from each class to introduce the group.  The student introducing the class also shared what they had learned over the summer in both Moral Science and Dance, which are the two classes that I taught over summer.  It was wonderful hearing them share what they had learned in both classes and then watch them perform the exercises that enforced these concepts.  Some of the concepts in which we focused on this summer in both the dance and moral science classes include:

Respect

Kindness

Leadership

Courage

Cleanliness

Dedication

Teamwork

Never giving up

I was so proud of all of the students and I know that they were proud of themselves too.  After spending a summer trying to find decent speakers I finally found some good ones at a big shopping store called Landmark and with the help of Nyim, the Rising Star IT man, we were able to hook up not only the speakers but some microphones too.  With the help of Steele and Maran chairs were set up for all of the Peery matriculation faculty along with all of the short term volunteers.   The students all sat in their bright-colored T-shirts waiting in eager anticipation for their turn to perform.

The program went well and I was so proud of them.  After the performance a kind man and friend by the name of Darmadan sponsored juice boxes for all of the students.  It was a fun treat for all of the students to receive a small treat after the performance and a wonderful way for me to thank them for all of the hard work that they had put into their dance classes all summer.

As far as the touring educational show goes…I was able to make a lot of headway, however, the touring part of the show probably wont happen until the beginning of January.  A large part of the grant has gone towards helping to sustain the program.  I wish that I could have done more, but when I reflect on my summer I worked my butt off and I left the program with everything that I had. The touring show proved to be a much larger task than I had originally intended.  The development of this show is going to take a lot more work on the home front with writing music and coming up with more dances that are cohesive for the students to perform.  Now that I have the students stories the process of writing a show about their lives may be started.  This process will take place with the help of a team of people who are sensitive to these students issues.  This team will help weave these students stories together by incorporating special songs and dance together to tell a story about Rising above the social stigmas of leprosy.  I am excited that I was able to help build the foundation for something that will be able to stand as a powerful reminder that we all can rise above our difficulties and become the Rising Stars that we are ment to be!

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What I have done and What needs to happen

What I have done this summer and  Where the program  needs to go:

What has happened this summer?

1)    Each student received a basic understanding of the Promethean Spark dance methodology through weekly classes.

2)    Through the audition process the after school Life Dance Troupe was established.

3)    Rules were established, developed by the group.  These rules include the following:

  1. First stand in line feet together and quiet.
  2. When someone is speaking, no one else speaks.
  3. Be Respectful and kind to each other.
  4. We don’t stop or give up!
  5. Patience even when something is hard.
  6. It is ok to ask questions.
  7. Our focus is the dance.
  8. Be on time.
  9. Ask and wait for an answer before you touch someone.
  10. Have FUN!

4)    Organization of Dance costumes, including the Promethean Spark Dance

T-shirts that may be used for dance performance on campus.

5)    Purchasing of Sound equipment for the troupe.  Including:

  1. White Boom box with CD, tape and Radio functions
  2. Altec portable I-Pod speakers
  3. Large 3 piece Altec speakers
  4. 8 GB I-Pod Nano with a variety of approved warm up and dance music in both English and Tamil

6)    Choreographing and setting two different dances on the Life Dance Troupe

7)    With the help of Daphe Interviewed and recorded the stories of the 13 members of the Life Dance Troupe

8)    The school dance program for the July 10th New Dinning Block Dedication.  The student performed for an audience of just over 500 hundered individuals.  Many of their parents and other coming to visit from the variouse leprosy colonies along with dignitaries from around the world.

9)    A demonstration of the Promethean Spark Dance exercises during a special school assembly held on August 13th.

Where we need to go:

1)    Hold auditions at the beginning of each Dance term at Rising Star.  (A dance term will last for a three-month period.)  The Life Dance Troupe is an honor for students who show initiative in both their schoolwork and on the dance floor, a positive attitude, a willingness to work hard, and an enthusiasm to learn.  However, this troupe should not be exclusive.  All students should feel welcome and students who were not able to be a part of the Life Dance Troupe the dance semester before should be given the opportunity for a new and coming semester.

2)     Continue the development of the touring show.

3)    Start teaching the students dance numbers and songs that will be used in this touring show.

4)    Develop a touring schedule and coordinate drivers, and parent waivers with Padma, Steele and Sarah, Maran, Manjula and Celina.

5)    Oversee the building of the risers for the touring show.

Keeping the Life Dance Troupe going during the Interum

The Life Dance Program should not die between the transition of the Promethean Spark dance instructors.  In order for the after school program to continue during the interim the following steps have been put into place:

1)    Two leaders, Joseph Stalin and Graci M., have been selected to help run rehearsals twice a week.

2)    Rehearsals will take place twice a week on Monday and Thursday between 4:30-5:45 p.m.

3)    There is a specific outline for the troupe rehearsals and I have assigned members of the troupe to help lead the warm up.  (See attached dance rehearsal checklist.)

4)    Joseph should fill out this checklist on Monday and Graci should fill it out on Thursday.

5)     Friday morning during Interim at 10:30 Joseph and Graci will be required to meet with Manjula and turn in the rehearsal reports and let here know how rehearsals are going, report if a member is consistently receiving in-to marks etc.

The Life Dance Troupe is a privilege and if their school work, attendance and attitudes are not in line they will be asked to take a break from the troupe for the month of September in order to focus on their schooling.  If their becomes an issue with one of the students in the Troupe it will be up to the discretion of Manjula, Celina, Steele and Sarah to determine whether or not they will have the opportunity to continue attending rehearsals.  When the new Dance Master arrives at the beginning of October the students behavior will be re-evaluated and the decision to let the child join in the troupe again will be determined.

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