On April 3, 2012, I began my first day at the Vivek High School by introducing myself at the school assembly. At the assembly the entire school sings the Indian national anthem, the school song and makes announcements to the community. This is similar to Athenian’s morning meetings or town meetings. That day, they were handing out awards for academic achievements and rewarding the different houses. Here at Vivek, they are divided into four groups called houses that are designed to promote competition throughout the school and are rewarded at the end of the year for best overall house. There are boys and girls in this school from elementary school to high school, and are divided into the senior wing and the lower wing. The two girls I am staying with are in grade twelve, so consequently I too was placed there.
The classes here are super different from Athenian. For starters, the students sit at desks, call their teachers Ma’am and Sir, and wear uniforms. Every day I dress in a blue button up shirt with a grey dress on top, along with a belt and a tie on Mondays. Girls have to put their hair in a ponytail or braid and only use black hair bands or hair ties. As you may have already guessed, school here is very strict compared to life at Athenian. My host Ekam is known as the school captain. Every morning she comes to school early to stand near the gate to inspect the incoming students’ uniforms and make sure they are up to par.
The school day for grade twelve starts at 8:00 AM and ends at 2:00 PM. Lunch is not served at school, so you eat lunch after school. At 11:00 all students have a 25 minute recess were you can have snack or buy ice tea. The classes that students take here are also very different. I am taking classes such as economics, accounts, and business studies. The classes are organized by what you are planning to study when you get to college. For example, Ekam is in the commerce track which includes classes like business studies, while others are in psychology classes. Also, unlike Athenian, you have all your classes with the same people and teachers go around to your classroom. Everyone here has made me feel so welcome, both the students and the teachers.
In celebration of Ekam’s birthday last weekend, many of her friends and I planned a surprise party for her. It was a great success and she was quite surprised! There was cake and presents and I had a great time. In the United States, when you receive a present the ‘polite’ thing to do is to open it in front of the person because it is considered nice to. But here, when getting gifts you merely say thank you and open them later, because it’s considered ‘rude.’ Also they always leave one candle on the cake lit and put it aside to wait until it burns out. I’m not actually sure why though.
Cricket is a HUGE sport here in India. For those who don’t know, the teams try to score the most points by hitting a ball with a bat (kind of like baseball) and run back and forth, while the other team tries to stop the ball from exiting the boundaries and scoring. I actually haven’t gotten a chance to fully understand it yet, but Ekam says she is going to take me to a match sometime! The food here is great and amazing! It’s so different than I expected but I love it. Lately here in Chandigarh, it’s been raining and windy! Summer is supposed to be the hottest time of the year over here, but the weather has been really nice out and pleasant.
I am still having a great time over here, but missing everyone!