Monday, May 31, 2010

Cultural awareness

Today the staff discussed with us specific cultural identities of India in the more rural areas. They said in the large cities, anything goes. Family is paramount, including very fringe cousins. Respect for elders is necessary from even very young children, indicated by touching the feet of the elders when greeting them. All people speak respectfully and quietly. The marriage age is 18 minimum with most who are educated waiting to 21-25. Women always wear the pants and long top with the scarf, although at home they take off the scarf. Men wear western clothes out but at home put on loose pants and long top. A bachelors degree is 3 years after high school and masters 2 years after that. At Grade 10 they take a nationwide test that determines what their future schooling choices will be. At that time they chose a career. Parents all hope their children will be more educated and do better than they have financially.

Sanitation: Most of the 2-3 I work with at GEPL like to stop at the hand sanitizer dispenser on the way out of story time. At daycare here, the "toilet" is a drain on the sidewalk outside, and there is no running water in the center. Water that is gathered each day from the leaking pipe across the road is used for cooking. (I personally walk to a nearby school for facilities.) There is a doctor in our group that says 90% of the illness she sees at the clinic is related to being unclean.

Trash: If some enterprisingly person wanted to make a LOT OF BUCKS they would bring public trash cans (and their maintenance) to India. I wonder at our willingness to export lots of snacks (let's not even talk about nutrition!) in plastic wrappers and not point out that dropping those wrappers all over the countryside makes it ugly.

Last week of teaching! Several of the children now bark when they see pictures of Brian's Dog, Munster. I THINK that is progress...

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