Talk Back India 2019

International Placement 2019, New Delhi, India

The School of Early Childhood at George Brown College offers a variety of global placements supported by the program or through individual arrangements.  The School has a long standing partnership in Jamaica and China and more recently in India. This year's placement takes place in February and is offered through a partnership with the Ritinjali, a small organization that works with marginalized groups. 

In the past, early childhood students have successfully completed placements at an outdoor play organization, a local child care centre, a program for children with special needs, an orphanage, and childcare centers serving the slum communities. Each program has offered many new learnings including:  partnership development, pedagogy & practice and a deeper understanding of how children and families are supported in the urban Indian context. The students also travel to rural schools to understand different community needs and the famous Taj Mahal in Agra!

With a population of over 1.2 billion, India offers a rich diversity in history, culture, religion and language. It's also a country that provides learning opportunities with other experts in early childhood education and family support, preparing George Brown students to work within the global community.

This placement offers also provides students with the chance to experience international travel not only with peers but with George Brown faculty who support the student learning during the field experience process.  

This year's ECE team have been joined by a variety of George Brown colleagues that includes students from the Child and Youth Care, Social Service Worker and Community Worker programs.

The voices of the students participating in the Project India, New Delhi 2019, will shed more light on the nature of this year's project. We hope you will enjoy reading about the participating student experiences. 

Letters from the students:


Ji Eun Park
February 11, 2019

Ji Eun ParkGreetings from New Delhi!!!

Hurray! I am in Delhi now. I am not dreaming any more.  There was a historical snowfall record in Toronto with some university closures including George Brown College, transit and flight delays, and plane cancellations. This happened in the beginning of the week before we were set to leave to Delhi. Fortunately, only our first flight was delayed and only by 20 minutes. Our jetlag without any hesitation brought us into a deep sleep right after we were settled into our rooms at La Residenza, our cozy guest  house. Our ECE team started looking for new things to do in Delhi and spent the first two days shopping at at INA and Janpath, local markets that are the go to places for Sari's and souvenirs. The best part was taking a rickshaw with our team among the noisy vehicle horn honks, back and forth from place to place. It has been a great experience the last two days and I am looking forward to our orientation at Ritinjali, the NGO we are in Dehli with, on Monday (4 February).

Finally, it is the day we were excited about!! We were welcomed by our Ritinjali director Dilreen, and learning centre supervisors, Shouman and Janusa, who exchanged lots of hugs with Dorota. Day one started by introducing ourselves to the Ritinjali team who then presented to us the details of the organization. Our four ECE students were divided and assigned to two different centres, Kusumpur and Nathapur. I was allocated to Kusumpur Learning Centre, about half an hour by Metro from where I am staying in Greater Kailash neighbourhood. It was really heartbreaking to see the extremely different environment that exists in the slums. For example children look unwashed, there is garbage everywhere, which contributes to the smell and untamed animals such as dogs, cats, goats, pigs and cows that roam the streets. I have never seen such surroundings before. Despite all of this, most residents greeted us with big smiles as we passed by. When I met  the children at the centre, I was amazed by their cheerful looks. Children's eyes were bright, which I had never seen before, and they were ready to absorb whatever we were going to teach them. Children welcomed us by dancing, singing, and citing poems. It was amazing to watch the children smile. It was the most beautiful thing in the world. Our team, although still quite jetlagged, worked very hard to prepare all the best activities for the next day.

The food in Delhi has been absolutely amazing at every meal. Our ECE team is enjoying having meals together with the other team from the Community Worker, Social Service Worker, and Child and Youth Care programs from George Brown College. They are an amazing team. When you share joy, you get a double. They are the team for double happiness in India.

My first week has gone by in the blink of an eye. I was surprised when one of the children from the centre approached me in the morning at the entrance of the slum by calling me "Didi," which means "sister." I love to see the children at the centre every day. They are such a lovely angels whose minds are filled with love and kindness and curiosity towards the outside world. I would love to meet as many different children as possible and learn more about them. This India placement is very special to me. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience. I was lucky to have this opportunity and really thank George Brown College for all the arrangements. I will cherish this unforgettable experience in Delhi.

 

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Aidan Parkinson
February 18, 2019

Aidan-ParkinsonGreetings from New Delhi!!! With the women of the ECCE program on Valentine’s, with lovely cards made by one the students there.

We kicked off week two by awakening our spirits with trips to a few of New Delhi’s spectacular temples. The most famous temple we visited, the Lotus temple, was a perfect place to start the day; a marvel inside and out.

After a weekend of sightseeing, and a little more shopping, we were all eager to get back to work at our centres with the children. The theme for the week was flowers, so we put our pipe cleaners and tissue paper to work, crafting faux flowers in every colour of the rainbow. The excitement and enthusiasm of the children was contagious as they took part in patterning, puzzles, poetry, and plenty more. Through their endless curiosity, he children find a way to engage in every activity and are very eager to experience all the new materials brought their way.

All three days at the centre were wonderful, but the highlight of the week was definitely our Valentine’s Day celebration with the children. We spent the morning decorating cards for their families and the best part for the children seemed to be all the white glue they got to use, as well as the stickers of course, so many stickers! What would Valentine’s Day be without jewelry? Next up, we decided to make bracelets out of pipe cleaners and beads, when all was thread and done each child had half an arm full of bracelets tied to them. The celebrations peaked with a dance party DJ’ed by one of our translators, who is also a student of the  College of ECEs with Ritinjali. She kicked things off with a fan favourite, Aqua’s Barbie Girl which got everyone moving. The day ended with the children presenting their teachers with cards, bracelets and necklaces they had made for them during the day, and everyone enjoying a heart-shaped lollipop. It was a Valentine’s Day to remember! One full of energy, joy and crafts. It is amazing to see the astounding resiliency in this community. Despite all of the challenges these children face, they never seem to miss an opportunity to smile. They are true treasures.

Our Thursdays and Fridays are spent with a wonderful group of women, who, much like us, are studying to become ECEs. While it’s hard to imagine conditions worse than the freeze over happening in Toronto, these students show up to their classroom with no chairs in a damp basement and take in all the information they can with enthusiasm and approach their days with a sense of humour. It’s a great experience to get  to show what we have learned about the power of play by sharing our activities with these students, as well as a strong reminder of the value of an education. The classroom is full for the lesson even when the electricity is out and the morning is cold, and there definitely isn’t a Starbucks within walking distance; just students ready to learn with a keen eye on the future.

As we do at the end of each day, we head home on Friday walking down Greater Kailash, a busy road with no sidewalks. The endless horns provide the city with a soundtrack and help give your reflexes a jump on the incoming motorcycles flying in every direction at all times. Two amazing weeks have passed and I am full of excitement and anticipation for what is still to come!

Namaste
Aidan Parkinson

 

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Jiaying Li
February 25, 2019

Jiaying Li Greetings from the bus returning to new Delhi from the Taj Mahal. We just finished the tour in Taj Mahal. It was really amazing. Moreover, I cannot believe that two weeks have passed, which means the trip in India is already half over! However, I still remember my excitement on the plane to New Delhi, and I was so happy when I met all the people in Ratinjali’s orientation.

When I went to the Nathurpur Pahari learning center on Monday of the first week, I felt so excited but sad. The children's learning and living environment was very limited, but they were all happy. When Sydney and I walked into the classroom, everybody just shouted happily, "Good morning, Ma’am." At that time, I realized that I was doing something very meaningful. During these three weeks, we did a lot of activities about the topics of “Flowers”, “Communication”, and “My Community”. They made 3D flowers with tissue papers, and they created mobile phone with playdough. They also used paper plates and construction papers to make ambulance and school bus. Moreover, we celebrated the Valentine's Day together by making bracelets, and they also made the heart shape paper foams for their friends and family members. There are three teachers in Nathurpur Pahari learning center. Hema is my CECE, and she is nice and friendly. We are working with younger children together. In addition, we go to ECCE class on every Thursday and Friday. We shared our curriculum plans with the ECCE students every week, and they are all eager to learn and communicate with us. We spent a lot of happy time together!

In New Delhi, it is common to see animals’ party on the street. We all have new surprises every day. You won't believe that a herd of cows and a few pigs are good friends. We can see pigs, cows, and dogs in our neighborhood. However, I was very impressed with the metro in Delhi, because it is huge and convenient. It can take us everywhere, and there is no traffic jam. We almost took metro every day. We went to placements during the weekdays, and we explored different markets and temples on the weekends. We went to a lot of places during these three weeks. We went to the INA market, Janpath, Lotus Temple, Taj Mahal, and India Gate. To be honest, I love Janpath, because I bought my favorite pants and scarf there. As for Indian food, I must say it makes me homesick, because most Indian food is similar to Chinese food. For example, the food “MOMO” is like Chinese dumplings. By the way, we ate “MOMO” on the Chinese New Year! I felt so happy, because we have the traditional custom that Chinese people eat dumplings on New Year’s Day.

Moreover, our ECE Team is like a big family, because we help each other and care about each other. We are so happy that we are here! I believe that I made the right choice, because I am so proud of the contribution I make to the organization. When I came here, I realized that helping people in need is a wonderful thing. Although my power is limited, it is great that I can contribute my small power. I believe this is a valuable trip, because I met a lot of nice people, and lovely children. The most important thing is that I learned a lot about Indian culture and experienced different lifestyles here. Keep working hard!

Dhanyavaad (Thank you),

Jiaying Li

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Sydney Wilson
March 4, 2019

Sydney Wilson I cannot believe that our time in India has come to an end. The photo is from our last day with Ritinjai. We presented what we had done on our placements and what we did to explore the culture of India.

What an experience this has been! When we all arrived I don’t think any of us knew what to expect, some of us were homesick but mostly we were all just eager to get started working with the children.

Going into this placement I was nervous about how I would communicate with the children and how I would implement my activities if I could not speak the same language as them. It was also intimidating to think about how many children I would have to prepare materials for as large groups of students of various ages was not something I was used to as in Canada class sizes are generally smaller and so is the age range within the classroom. However once Jiaying and I entered the centre on the first Monday all of my fears and concerns did not even cross my mind, seeing the children’s smiling faces and meeting the teachers just made me so excited to get started on this adventure and give the children the opportunity to engage in curriculum different from their day to day routine. It turns out I had nothing to worry about with regards to the language barrier because once we got to the centre we found out we had translators so we were able to interact better with the children and plan more complex activities. I think it’s easy when you have never been somewhere to have these preconceived notions of what it is going to be like but once we finally landed I was open to every experience and really wanted to make the most of our four weeks here.

When we were not at placement we were exploring all of the sights and food India has to offer. On our last weekend we explored Chadni Chowk and the Red Fort, two must see sights in Old Dehli and well as Raj Ghat, the Ghandi memorial. The Red Fort is quite the sight to see, we spent more than three hours there roaming around looking at all of the different buildings and reading up on the history of the fort. Walking through Chandni Chowk was a memorable experience. I think our group had thought that we had finally gotten the hang of crossing the street in India but boy were we wrong. Crossing the street from the Red Fort to the market was so intimidating, the cars do not follow the traffic lights. However, we ended up following the locals and made it to the other side. The Chadni Chowk market itself is one of those places where you can see pictures of it on the internet, you can hear people talk about it but until you experience it in person you really do not know what to expect. The streets are narrow and filled with people. The roads are full of rickshaws, cars, street food vendors and people walking. This is what I had envisioned when I imagined India so being able to experience it in person was very memorable.   

Our final presentation and last day with Ritinjali was emotional. Everyone who works there from Dilreen, Janusa, Shouman and Shreshtha are so passionate about creating a better future for the children in the learning centres, the women at the ECCE college as well as the women in the skilling centres and the young men at the second chance school. I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work so closely with these people over the last month and make some lasting relationships with the rest of the ECE team. This will not be my last trip to India. I look forward to going back and exploring more of this wonderful country. I have learned so much about Indian culture and have had such a positive experience.

Thank you,

Sydney Wilson

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