...I must sound like a broken record at this point but every day here is even more surprising than the last. Yesterday, Sister Pushpa asked if I would like to come hand out prizes to some of the children at the Carmel Convent School. I was honored by the offer and obviously accepted without hesitation. I showed up this morning at the pre-determined time of 7:45. All of the students were also arriving. I sat down in Sister Pushpa's office as she asked me, "So, what are you going to tell the students?" Hmmm...great question, I thought. I didn't know I was going to be asked to speak.
Five minutes later. I was standing outside of Sister Pushpa's office as nearly 1600 students assembled with militaristic precision. I had just woken up and this day was already turning out to be a memorable one.
Chuckling to myself as I climbed up to the stage, I couldn't believe what was happening. I had mental talking points ready to go but was taken aback by the sheer number and discipline of the students. After music from a choir and small band, the so-called 'head-boy' approached the microphone and called, "Attennntion!" In unison, 3200 heels clicked as spines straightened and chins raised. "At ease," he called.
Sister Pushpa gave me a wonderful, sweet introduction and then welcomed me up to the microphone. I felt like a general preparing his troops for battle. I just spoke from the heart, telling the students how fortunate they were to study where they do, under sisters and faculty who make students' success their own priority. I talked about what I was doing in India, some of the lessons I have learned, and tried to give them motivation to study hard and take advantage of their opportunities to help people around them. Secretly, I was picturing our little students standing out among the others. I look forward to the day that it is a reality.
I then handed out awards and medals to some of the best students, who seemed intimidated to shake my hand in front of the entire school. We gathered for a picture before I was taken back inside for chai with Sister Pushpa.
--In response to, "Who is planning to go to college?"--
Sister Pushpa took me on a tour of the school. We visited and talked to classes from the 5th to 9th standards. Sister Pushpa's quiet and respectful demeanor seems to garner incredible love from the students as well. The quality of her leadership is undeniable.
I questioned the students about their life goals and plans. Their English was impeccable. I was incredibly impressed. When I asked a 5th grader what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said, "I want to be a cardiologist!" Wow! I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up with that kind of precision.
--Children bringing donations--
We then returned to Sister Pushpa's office, where the continued collection of donated notebooks and supplies was being amassed. Sister Pushpa has been asking for supplies all week to give to our children from the slum who will soon be joining the Carmel Convent School. Every day, hundreds of valuable resources are being collected. We both looked in amazement at the outpouring of support for our cause.
--Contemplating just one day of donated books, clothes, and supplies--
As shown here, even small contributions from many can supply these children with vast resources! Thank you again for those of you who continue to donate. You are truly changing lives. I'm watching it happen.