Sunday, March 29, 2015

Happy Belated Holi!

Holi is a Hindu Holiday that happens annually in late February or early March depending on when the full moon falls. Most commonly known as the festival of colors, it celebrates of the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring and is attached to a few legends involving the Lord Krishna.  As the festival has become more popular, Hindu’s and non-Hindu’s alike celebrate by jubilantly throwing colors in water or powder form on friends and family to recognize the end of the dark cold winter and the beginning of beautiful colors to come as the weather warms. I say this sounds like more fun than ground hogs day…

This year Holi fell on March 6th, and we as a group were ready for our holiday off of school with our packets of vibrant colors! Stonehill Service Corps India celebrated with some of our neighbors in the comfort of our own yard. The initial honoring of the holiday is a more intimate experience in which friends place some color on the faces of the other and offer greetings of “Happy Holi”. This was followed by the exciting and playful hours of dancing to Hindi and American music while throwing powered colors, and unfortunately some water guns of colors, onto our formerly white clothing. Our celebration lasted throughout the morning and into the afternoon, However, in some parts of India, the celebration can last for days if not weeks! 

Some of us did experience the aftermath of the Holiday when teachers at school approached us saying “Oh I can see you played Holi yesterday.” There was no denying that as our scalps, faces, and other body parts were died pink and green among other colors for several days after. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Game Day!

During sports week about three weeks ago, students of all ages hit the basketball court, representing their houses and trying to win games and points for their teams. Father Michael, the principal at St. Andre is quite the basketball player and it seems he was underwhelmed with the quality of basketball skills that the students came to play with. Therefore, this past week, he decided to put on a basketball game for all the students to watch, in order for them to get a clearer idea of what the game should look like. 
He asked Holy Cross College if their basketball team could come to play against the St. Andre teachers. Once this was arranged, his next task was to create a team. During breaks at school, many of the staff members would hit the basketball court for a quick game, or shooting practice. That way he had an idea of who was interested and who had some skill. One by one, the team got put together. Next, Father Michael turned to the members of our group to see if any of us were interested. Hadi and I (Kirsten) were very quick to join the team. 
Over the next few days, we had several practices. This included playing against some Class 12 boys (although they should have been studying for exams). It only took me one practice to realize that wearing a skirt was not conducive for basketball and after our two practices I became concerned about how we would do against a college team, but I had permission to wear shorts so it was all good.
Finally, Saturday came, the first two classes went on as usual and I told all of my students to cheer for me. Peaking out the window, I saw a large blackboard set up for the score, students had completely repainted the court, a loud speaker was set up and many benches surrounded the whole court. The St.Andre team got changed and headed out to the court where the College team was already warming up. We all put on matching polos and I only heard a few girls gasp when I walked out in shorts with all the boys.
Before the game, pictures where taken of both teams and warmups ensued. I was not feeling very confident with my skills at this point but the rest of my team was looking real good. While I was the only girl, my height seemed to really make up for this. Even though I had not been too pleased with my warm up, once the game started, I surprised myself and probably everyone else by making the first basket. For most of the game, we kept a close score with the other team but often held the lead. Our offense was great but it took us a while to figure out our defense. We often left Hadi to run back to defend the basket while we walked back to the other side. During breaks, we all drank our Glucose for some energy while music blasted and the whole school danced and sang. The best moment of the entire day was when I made a tricky basket and turned around to find both Father Michael and Father Jilson there to high five me. In the excitement, I then looked over at Sarah and Jenny to find them both giving thumbs up and smiling about the whole interaction that had just occurred. 
After about two hours, we won the game with the score of 28-19. While we all sweat and got a little burned, it was a lot of fun and a great game. It was also great to see what it was like to play against the college. The students seemed to enjoy the game and like always, we ended the event with some really great sweets and some juice. I call that a great Saturday.