Nothing quite beats getting up at 5:45am, in complete darkness (well not complete darkness since the moon and stars were still out, providing us with some much-needed light…) Anywho, Alice and I headed down to breakfast and I helped her set up the dishwashing area before breakfast started. Then all of the interns except Grace ate breakfast (corn flakes with PB, toast with PB…the only reason why I’m ok with eating all this peanut butter is because it’s becoming my main source of protein!)
After that, we headed to TG’s office. Well, actually before we physically got into TG’s office, we noticed a calico cat sitting on the inside of the door (i.e. in the office). Thinking nothing of it, Jennifer went to open the door and the cat literally sprinted out, scaring us sleepy interns and TG, who was inside and had absolutely no idea what was going on. TG laughing at us has become a theme of this trip, but after all he’s done for us, I’m glad we can reciprocate by providing some unintentional entertainment.
After that lovely conundrum, we finally were able to meet the principal, Mr. Taylor. He took us to the staff meeting (which was at 6:55 in the staff lounge) and there we were introduced as “the first group of Harvard interns who were all here, with all their luggage, on time” (he apparently took great pride in this fact, as he must have repeated it at least three or four other times).
Later we went back into his office and talked with Ms. Khan about different students that might need a little extra mentoring in order to get them at the same level as their peers (and to instill good homework and organizational habits in them early, etc.) After that we talked a little more about the duties/responsibilities that us female interns have in the girl’s boarding house.
Next was a horticulture tour that was surprisingly entertaining and enlightening. At first I thought we were going to learn about the plants in the multiple “courtyards” in MaP’s campus, but we actually went off a little into the “woods” (still in the campus gates, though) and learned about many native trees there. Then it was time for lunch, and by that time we were starving (it’s been hard adjusting to a 6am then 12:45pm eating schedule, although the sandwiches at 9 do help!)
We then had a little time to relax – and this was much-needed after the whirlwind start to the day. I even took a mini nap (just like college, hooray!) What was next? Even more meetings. We met with Bruce, the head of physical education department, who asked us to help out with PE classes whenever possible. Then we met with Brenda who organizes, and therefore was able to tell us all about, the SPE program at MaP.
MaP calls “co-curriculars” what Americans commonly refer to as “extra-curriculars” since they believe that the school day doesn’t end when the academic classes end. The academic classes ends at 12:45 when lunch is served. However, every day from around 2-3:15 there are multiple service opportunities (the “S” in SPE) that the kids can do such as providing food to the needy or reading in nearby orphanages. Then from 3:30-4:30 there are the “P” (physical activities such as football, rugby, basketball, etc.) and “E” (enrichment activities such as the school newspaper, a capella groups and poetry clubs).
After this meeting we were told by Principal Taylor that we were going to meet “Mother Theresa in heels.” I thought it was strange as an incredibly well dressed woman approached MaP. Caroline Desai, a woman of about 40, was dressed in an off-white dress, white jacket, sunglasses, and beautiful black Jimmy Choo heels. I was quite confused, and wondered if she really was the woman who was going to talk to us about the Service aspect at MaP.
Caroline was literally one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Seriously, though. She was incredibly high-energy, fast-talking, and passionate. But beyond that, she (to use her term) gets shit done, and that was what impressed me the most. So many times I have been around people who seem to be a lot of talk and not a lot of doing (and I know that talking is a big part of the process – one must discuss and plan out any idea before it becomes a reality, but I feel like many times (and I’m guilty of this, as well!) we just plan out these ideas, but don’t really do anything about them). Caroline would have none of that – she literally only worked for results.
This is why I say she was so amazing. She was incredibly organised and had list after list of where clothing donations were headed, where they were coming from (many were from MaP clothing drives) where food was going, how money was being spent when she was building a house, etc. She seemed to do everything – from food to clothing to homes, to medicine – she was either purchasing, distributing and/or organising it. She talked at a million words per minute, and we all just sat there in overwhelmed awe.
After that it was time for dinner, and then we had quite a lengthy meeting in the girl’s boarding house discussing different nutritional issues in the dining hall. I’ve been amazed at how unhealthy many of the meals are here (no fruits nor vegetables, huge portions, etc.) and many of the girls seemed to express these same sentiments. I understand that it’s hard working on a budget, but I really think that if they cut back on some of the portions and spent a little more money on local fruit, that would go a long way.
TGT: 1) Meeting/getting inspired by Caroline Desai 2) tea and sandwiches in Mr. Taylor’s office (I believe they were chicken salad?) and 3) the hilarity that ensued after the cat fiasco – obviously a great way to start the day!
Until next time,