Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Campus

Rising Star is truly an oasis in the middle of nowhere. It was built in the middle of a mango orchard. Rice paddies are all along the road leading in.
The road leading to our campus.
The campus is totally surrounded by a gated wall. It has its own source of electriciy and clean, drinking water. Wireless internet is also available. And it is far better than my ATT Lite. This is the entrance.
This is the school building. It is K-10th.
The pathway that leads to the volunteer housing. People buy bricks. There are many with David Archuleta or variations thereof from many of his fans worldwide. He apparently came to the campus.
Volunteer housing, aka, the Elephant House. This is where I stay.
My room. There are beds for 7. During busy volunteer periods they will all be filled. Right now I have the room to myself, though my roommate arrives tomorrow. Notice the A/C.
This is the dining hall. The children sit on the floor and eat with their hands. Rice (either white, yellow or red) is served every meal along with yellow saucy things served with it. Sometimes fruit. Everything has a kick to it. I think the serving dishes are lined up in order of spiciness. I stick with the rice and the first sauce. I eat breakfast and lunch back at the Elephant House.
The majority of the students live on campus most of the year. They have dorm style quarters with house moms residing with them.
The children love their play time. The boys play basketball, soccer and cricket. The girls play badminton and on the equipment. We've taught them 4 Square and Hopscotch.
There are several vans for the medical group that goes out to the colonies and several vans to transport volunteers to places. Thank goodness we are not driving. Driving is insane.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Wow! I have been in India for 4 days now. So many new sights, smells, sounds. It is hard to know where to begin writing. How about some background. I learned about Rising Star Outreach several years ago, maybe 10, from its founder, Becky Douglas. She and her husband are friends from Atlanta of many years. A couple of years ago I started thinking about some of the things I wanted to do over the upcoming years and Rising Star was on my short list. Following the end of my mission this past May, I started thinking about my next big project. I considered teaching English in China through a BYU program and going to India with Rising Star. Looking at the calendar and upcoming family events, a 3 month stay in India seemed just right. I contacted Rising Star, was asked to submit a resume, created a resume, submitted the said resume, had a skype interview with some of the directors and was accepted into the program as the Education Coordinator. There were several things I had to do to be able to go. The first was to be up-to-date on my vaccinations, which I was except for typhoid. I also had to get malaria pills and begin them one week before departure. I was nervous about the typhoid and malaria pills as I had heard that both could make you very sick. But, I was fine with both. I also had to secure a visa. It was a slight pain to do and a little costly at about $100. But it came through just fine. I then had to book my flight. With our family cruise being over New Years I waited until January 8 to leave Atlanta. I also heard from Anita about the importance of bringing alot of snacks and supplies, so I packed one suitcase just with food, vitamins, etc.
January 8 I left Atlanta. About 30 hours later, on January 10 I landed in India. You do the math and time zones and it all works out. The flight wasn't really so bad. Flying to Thailand twice has helped me figure out how to deal with those long flights. Mainly you watch movies, sleep and turn into a zombie for 24 hours with a good neck pillow and blanket. The part I was most concerned with was the 9 hour layover in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). I had heard it is a pretty sketchy place. But I found a nice reclining chair next to several other people and camped out for the night.
Upon arrival in Chennai I was told to look for the man with a sign with my name written on it and Rising Star. Exiting the airport door, I must have seen a hundred Indian men, all looking the same to me holding up little signs. And then in the sea of all those men, stood Anita, smiling and waving. It was a welcome sight. Two hours later we arrived at my new home for the winter (or I should say summer). (to be continued...)