After a full Monday of some much needed R&R (and a couple of glasses of fresh lime soda) at the Gateway Hotel, our group of travelers woke up this morning ready to take down a plate of waffles and head to the Piyali Learning Center. The journey to the school took us through bustling streets of Calcutta, past the occasional cow road block, and along lengths of rice paddies, until finally, we found ourselves in the principal’s office—and we mean that in the best way. We enjoyed a welcoming cup of chai and took a tour through the school, led by three particularly tenacious sixth, ninth, and tenth graders.Every young student was eager to introduce herself, and to learn our names…and our mothers’ names, and our fathers’ names, and our siblings’ names, and our hobbies, and more. And they were especially glad to see their Didi Sonia back in their classrooms again—a cry of “THAT’S SONIA!” often sounded emphatically from the back of every room we passed.
Though we had the privilege of sharing lunch with the teachers, and sitting in on various classes, most of us ended our day with the fourth graders. They gave us our first lessons in Bengali—which we have been promised to be quizzed on tomorrow—and performed one of their favorite dramas, complete with props and an impressive English translation.
After a final hour of learning to play their favorite games and sing their favorite songs, we parted ways with fervent promises to see them in the morning. As we left the school in our car, the girls piled into a group and waved us off the school grounds, calling goodbyes as we drove into the distance. The drive back to the hotel was shorter than our drive out…the driver didn’t need to stop for directions this time. Once returned, we quickly set about resting and eating dinner so that we could have time to plan our lessons for the rest of the week. We are so excited for waffles in the morning, but mostly to share with the girls the stories and lessons we’ve prepared, and to watch them learn.Lots of love,Libby and Maria….but we go by Didi now.