The crayons are packed away, the books donated, the yellow shirts washed for the last time and the volunteers all back home: The six week trial of Book Bus India is over. We have come a long way since the first day when we nervously climbed in the jeep not knowing what to expect, driving to school along unfamiliar roads with a bag full of books and minds full of curiosity. That day we received the warmest welcome imaginable and from then on, every day, we eagerly jumped in the jeeps, looking forward to what the day would bring: it might be a game of volleyball, a jeep stuck in the sand, 100 bear headbands or another rendition of the banana song!
|The final banana song!|
A big thank you to ALL at Mandore Guest House for making our stay so pleasant, answering all our questions, looking after us, feeding us fantastic food and making us feel at home.
|Thank you to all at Mandore Guest House|
A special thank you to Surendra, who in his capacity as honorary project manager, did us proud, without his contribution this pilot would never have succeeded. And thanks to Sanjay for his all his help, photos, driving and for putting up with all the crazy people in yellow shirts for singing in his jeep!
14 volunteers, 10 of them past”Book Bussers” came out to join the project in Rajasthan, their stays ranging from 2 to 6 weeks . I think I can say that every one of them, myself included, has had a fantastic experience here, both at school and away from it. I would like to thank every one of them for their commitment and contribution to the project, their dedication and hard work and their unfailing senses of humour which made every day successful and also great fun.
We have been made to feel welcome wherever we go. We have experienced dancing, drumming, the colourful festival of Holi, the local markets, cows everywhere, stand offs with camels, the impressive fort, the interesting Indian use of the roundabout and too many other things to mention. We have explored the blue streets of Jodhpur, the Thar desert at Jaisalmer, the temples at Ossian and the lake palace at Udaipur. We have been given flower garlands, scarves, copious amounts of chai, speeches, pink hair and genuine smiles.
At school the children are ever eager, keen and a pleasure to teach. The teachers are dedicated and interested to learn. The communities are welcoming and grateful.
I think we can safely say the 6 weeks were a great success, full of unforgettable memories, for all those involved. The teachers, pupils and volunteers alike have had their eyes opened to new experiences and new ways of learning. It has been a genuine cultural exchange with every party benefiting from the coming together. We have learnt about Indian customs, education, costumes and culture and the children have learnt in English about colours, numbers and opposites, to name just a few.
When the long term project in October begins many more children, schools and communities can benefit from the Book Bus visits: the books, the activities, the exposure to English and the joyful, interactive way of learning. And hopefully many more volunteers will come to Mandore, to work with these eager students, gain an insight into their way of life and to experience the hospitality and warmth of the people of Rajasthan.