well iv survived 2 weeks in India! and its been the hardest 2 weeks of my life! i have good days and bad days but have recognised how im feeling as culture shock and i know that things will get better!life is getting busy!!!!!so now we’ve gone to the other extreme! the warden has asked us to teach small classes of hostel students in the evenings from 9-10pm and we’re doing a drop in session between 4.30 and 5.30. this is a time when i would like to give students the opportunity to relax and play games as it is a very strict instituion and they more or less work from 5.30 am to 10pm. the aim is to play games, whilst talking in english to improve their english. so after a bit of negotion the warden has let us open the tv hall (the biggest fanned room in the hoste that should be used as a common room but is always locked!).the kitchen girls have been teaching us some telugu and we have been teaching them english. sorry for those of u who r not religious…i think this is why God has put me here. 2 girls in particular are keen to learn and have asked the sisters if they can study, but they come from poor families and they aren’t allowed. if anyone finds out we’re teaching the girls english this will be stopped. they had to finnish their education when they were 10years old because their families need them to worl. their parents work in the fields hours away for 50-60Rs a day (1pound = 85Rs) and their parents are often turned away by the sisters if they travel the 5hours to see them. it is such a hard life for them. they work 7days a week, eben in the college holidays from 5.30am till 10pm for 600Rs a month.teaching is going well on the whole. we have 2 classes on mondays and fridays and one class on tues-thurs and sat morning. on tues-thurs afternoons we go with the social work department to different organisations working with the community in Vijayawada. So far we have been to a Hindu Mentally handicapped school, a wonderful street children centre and yesterday we went to the Atheist centre (run by our representative Bharavi’s very large family!) and were intoduced to their work with HIV and Aids awareness, and victims of the disease. we also recieved a crash course in Atheist and humanist views as well as politics and society in India. i didnt agree with all of the views but it was very interesting, and i think helped me to understnad some of the problems in india and how they can be tackled. i think the main issue is that western social work cant always be applied to india. they are working to enable families to care for their own, and this is their social welfare system. there are some great initiatives going on in india, run by many different organisations and certainly in Vijayawada, these organisations work together, regardless of their religious views. i am begining to see that perhaps the west could learn something from the east from their relaxed and caring outlook on life. i said in india ‘tomorrow never happens’, and this is something that they are improving through mirroring western attitudes, by planing for the future, but ideas of the importance of family and their more democratic society are, i think, well worth listening to!at the moment we are focusing more on going around organisations and talking to people, learning what they do, with a view to going back to at least some of the organisations and helping in any way we can. the main area i am interested in is street children. there are over 25000 street children in Vijayawada alone, as it is a major railway junction. there are some really loving homes and schools for them, in many cases the street children are better off! however, there are only a few hundred of these street children in these homes. they completely understand these children though, and would never force them to settle down and be educated, and i would like to learn more.katie and i had our 1st yoga session on monday, which was very relaxing! we dont get any exercise cos its so hot! but if we get a spare second we hope to go along to basketball. basketball (being an american influence, and so more popular!) is the main sport at maris stella, and the team have won lots of tournaments (well they should practicing from 7.30-10am and 4-6pm everyday!) the girls and the coach are keen to teach us beginners so we’re looking forward to that!i have attached a picture of katie and i in our churidas. they are not our nicest ones, but certainly mine is my comfiest one! also theres a pic of katie and i will our rep Bharavi and his wife Sugati. have a laugh at how bad i look out here!