Friday, February 26, 2010

The Student Conference

The conference is going amazingly well, in just a few minutes, the kids are going to be presenting to the conference. For more information, see this blog post.

Find more photos like this on Flat Classroom Conference

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Indian Voyage

Hello, I am in India at the moment learning all about these exotic things and I'm going to tell you about a few. Well, it all started right off the bat when we got into the car. I was put into a whole another world of chaos on the roads. Surprisingly the people don't have wrecks even though they have no restrictions. They mainly drive by the rule of I won't hit you if you wont hit me .

The Indian cuisine is very exotic in that it is different from the regular type of food we are used to eating. We ate a traditional Indian meal our second night in India, which consisted of boiled lemon chicken, flat bread, and spicy marinated chicken.

We woke up the next day and got to see the Gate Way to India which is a gorgeous monument next to the Taj Hotel. We rode on the local ferry for an hour before getting to the Island Elephanta. The island is solely tourist based and gets water from the top of mountain from the rain. We got to bargain with the natives for items for loved ones and got to see Sheba's temple with all the stone engravings .

We visited the house of Ghandi's cousin where Ghandi lived for at least 5 years. We have done so many things in India and we have gained a different prospective of life outside of America .

India Trip

Hello everyone. I am here in India, and this is a great experience. We have done and seen so much. It is much different from everything I am used to in south Georgia. I have enjoyed my time here so far, and I am looking forward to the conference that starts tomorrow. I am anxious because I'm not quite sure what to expect, but excited at the same time. I think it should be fun. We have been touring the past three days, and the city is so different. There are a ton of people here, and they have been welcoming for the most part. The first day we went to an Islamic temple and a Hindu temple. Both of those places were interesting to see because at the Islamic temple so many people were coming giving gifts and visiting the temple. At the Hindu temple they were actually having a church service of some sort, and that was cool to see. On that day we also went to the place where Ghandi would stay when he came to the city. It was once his friends house, but now it is a huge museum dedicated to him, and that was one of my favorite parts. Yesterday we went to Elephanta Island and the Gateway of India. That was fun because we took a one hour boat ride there, and it was like a island out in the middle of the ocean. It was really pretty because there was a lot of trees and nature, it has been preserved and no buildings have been built on it. My favorite part about it were the monkeys that were running around. The monument on the island was really interesting because it was one piece of stone that they formed all the sculptures from, using only a pick and a hammer. That was neat to know. After visiting the island we went around the town and shopped for a while, and did the same thing today. We also rode on the tour bus and our guide told us a lot about the history of Mumbai. Here in India the food is unlike anything I've ever tasted. It is very different from the food I normally eat. It was interesting to try out the different types of food they have. Tonight is our first night at our host family's home. I love it here, the Sullivan's are my host family and they are so nice.

While in India!

Hello! I am blogging from here in Mumbai! We finally made it after a 15 hour plane ride! The very first thing I noticed when we arrived was just how blessed we actually are in America. It's very true that you don't believe it until you see it. I had no idea how bad and unsanitary the conditions are. Children in the streets come up to you begging you for money (instead of being in school). People are sleeping on the streets everywhere you look: some without clothing, shoes, food, etc. The good parts of this city are like the bad parts of where we live. It really broadened my perspective of the world and helped me realize just how blessed we are.

We started out by touring on Monday and Tuesday. We had our own personal guide that took us to the temples in the city as well as Elefanta Island and the Gateway of India. These were each very interesting. The temples were all different depending on the religion. Some you could not have your shoes on and the boys couldn't go in because they had on shorts. The Gateway of India was a huge monument which we went around to get on a boat to Elefanta Island. Here we climbed 120 steps with hundreds of shops aligned on both sides along the way. Once we reached the top, we saw a memorial with Shiva and other gods in it, relating to the Hindu religion. There were also many monkeys that we got very close to. Throughout these journeys we have encountered a variety of Indian foods. Most of it has spices in it including cury. It's very different from what we are used to, even the sodas taste differently. We are only aloud to drink bottled water and sodas out of the can because the rest is considered unsafe. After meals the waiters bring to you a bowl of water to clean your hands and some Indian mints that look like herbs. It's a very interesting experience to try new cuisines from a different country.

The American School of Bombay took us on a tour of the city today (Wednesday) where we got to do some more shoppping and sight seeing. After that, we got to meet our host families. Mine and Jordan's is very nice and hospitable. Their names are Rebecca and Ben Sullivan and they have 2 daughter, Emma (4) and Rachael (7). They are originally from Australia and have been in India for a year. Their home is very nice and cozy. I particularly like it because we have internet! We were expecting not to have it but were very relieved to find out we did! Right now we are just relaxing in our room and giving ourselves time to breathe. The conference officially starts tomorrow and I am looking forward to what is to come! So far it has been an amazing experience!

Street in India

Entrance to the Islam Temple

Lambs on the street

Inside the Hindu Temple

Garden in India

Gandhi’s place of residence while in India

Restaurant overlooking Ju-Ju beach

Indian food

We have eaten well. The food has been interesting, and we have been careful to ask for suggestions on what would be best for us to eat. The servers are all eager to please and help.
Our tour guide chose our traditional Indian meal for us Monday night. We ate on the balcony of a hotel restaurant that overlooked Juhu Beach, a favorite night spot for families here. She chose all the foods - ground chicken with something mixed in and fried served with mint sauce (yummy), barbecued chicken in a tomato gravy, a lentil dish scooped up with grilled flatbread, balsatti rice - all served with bowls of pickled onions, beets, guava, and something else?????? These were all salty, and it did not take much to clear the sinuses. W had ice cream for dessert. ine was a mixture of ice cream with figs and toasted nuts. It was wonderful. This was followed by dishes of crystalized sugar with different types of spices that served as breath fresheners. I did not find one that I cared for and wished that I had stopped with the ice cream. They brought perfumed, warm cloths before the meal to wipe our hands and also finger bowls with sliced lemon after the main courses. This was a first for our students.
Interesting McDonalds tips - No beef is served in India so McDonalds serves mutton burghers, fish burghers and chicken nuggets. They are a great favorite with children here. We have also seen Baskin Robbins ice cream and KFC but no other American franchises.
A breakfast buffet comes with our rooms. You can get a traditional omlette, toast, sweet breads, and fruits, including guava, figs, and pomegrante seeds. There is cereal, but the milk is at room temperature. One table is filled with cheeses and thin sliced meats??? The hot bar has eggs mixed with different things, chicken sausage, fried potatoes, pancakes, and french toast. Joseph says it all tastes like it has spices in it. Even what is familiar tastes a little different.
Not to worry - we are getting plenty to eat.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

All Things India: Travel with our Tour Guide Mrs. Jaishri Vashisht

The fifth graders have had us on a "scavenger hunt" of sorts about all types of things India. Some of these things are not "in" Mumbai or not easily observable, so we asked our delightful tour guide to help us and explain the many things. The fifth grade, in particular, should watch these with their scavenger hunt in hand and "sit" beside Mrs. Jaishri Vashisht to learn about the items in their scavenger hunt. The rest of you may learn from her as well. Enjoy! It is about sixteen minutes long.

Mrs. Jaishri's contact information is below: Jaishri Vashisht Joyful Journeys Pvt. Lts. Phone 26183779, 66302812 New Delhi (She covers the whole country and does wonderful student exchange programs. She used to be a teacher. I would really like to come back and have her take me on a "tiger spotting tour," to the Ganges, to New Delhi, and to the Himalaya mountains.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our first day in Mumbai

Taylor, Ethan, Daniel, Will, and Joseph at the Trident Hotel in Mumbai

Outside view of The Trident Hotel

Cool statues in the lobby of the Trident

We are uploading all of our photos to our web album that you may see below. As we upload photos, they are all going here.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hi everyone,

We made it safely to Mumbai after a long 26 hours of traveling. We arrived at our hotel at midnight India time, but 2:00pm Camilla time. Our bodies are totally confused. First impressions are hordes of mosquitoes everywhere , tight security at airport and hotel, heat and humidity, smoky atmosphere, poverty, horrendous traffic, and and endless construction. We have been scanned for drugs, bombs, my titanium knee, Vicki's curling iron, and medication we were carrying. Of course, we were carrying nothing illegal. It is a bit unnerving to be at the mercy of people who do not know you, do not speak your language, and question all things American. There is no disguising where we are from, particularly when traveling with 7 students.

The Trident Hotel is first rate and brand new. We have yet to figure out all the buttons and how to work the lights. They checked our car from the airport for bombs before we could unload and then put us and our baggage through x-ray. Security is tight here and for the conference. That creates a paradox. I am glad the security is in place, but it also makes you think about why all the security is necessary.

The flight attendants on the plane commented on the excellent behavior of our students. I know they will make us proud as we go forward.

I hope the immersion project is going well at school. Ethan and Jordan are taking pictures of things in the hotel to upload for the 5th grade scavenger hunt. We will leave on our first tour in about an hour and hopefully will be able to post some pictures and video tonight when we get back.

Betty Shiver

Hello from Mumbai

This is the letter I sent to the second grade class.(my assigned class) Thought you all would like to hear from this.

Hi everyone - this is a letter from Mumbai - It is 2:35 pm your time but over here it is almost 1 am in the morning so I'm going to go to bed very soon.

This is such a different place!  We made it through the airport - lots of long hallways and long lines here!  We had to go through security to get out of the airport and have our bags xrayed. Then we got our money (45 rupees for one dollar - rupees are the money they have here.)

Then, we got out of the airport and had two groups of people waiting for us - the hotel AND the school hosting the conference - that was interesting. As we left the airport, the roads here are sort of scary - many are the size of 3-4 lane roads in the USA but have NO LINES ON THEM. Everyone just drives wherever they want and motorcycles zip in and out and people just cross the road where they want to as well!  We complain about speed limits and our bumpy roads in the USA but I will never complain again!

When we got to the hotel we had to go through security AGAIN - they screened our bags and us and even our car by looking under the car to make sure no one was hiding in the car or underneath it to get into the trident.  They called me back and I had to show them that the thing they were confused about in my bag was a CURLING IRON.  So, we got into the hotel  and everyone was hungry - but they couldn't eat because it was AFTER midnight although at home it was only around 1 pm and you all were eating Sunday lunch.

We got here and found out that they charge for the Internet and so some of us have the Internet but had to pay for it.  We got in and then had to figure out the Internet and Mrs. Betty skyped with her family and we had to figure out the plugs -- they don't use the same plugs we use - but type D adapter. Did you know that the electricity is different every where you go?

We were on the plane for OVER 14 hours! I watched about 6 episodes of my favorite tv show Numb3rs (yes it has a 3 in it) and slept as much as I could (when the baby wasn't crying that was in the front row.)

Ok,so I've pretty much let you know about everything. Everything is different here - it smells different, looks different, everything is different!  (If you go in their kind of toilet - it is just a hole in the floor!)

But we are excited about going and touring tomorrow! We will keep you posted and I'll share some film with you tomorrow!  We're excited to be here and I hope that if you all work hard in school and learn a lot about technology and computers that maybe one day you can go on a trip like this!

Email me your questions or post them as comments here!
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Will's Pre-Trip Reflection

I am really excited about this trip to Mumbai, India! But I’m also really nervous!

I am ready to be a part of the ASB Unplugged Conference at the American School of Bombay, and to experience the other cultures of India. India has always been at the top of my list of places to travel. Although we will be there only for a week, I KNOW that I will return someday to see ALL of India and see everything about it! But for now, I will just have to make do with Mumbai!

The reasons I am nervous is the LONG 16 hour flight! And the fact that if I drink the water I could potentially die! Just kidding. Thieves are pretty bad over there too, but we will be in the rich part of town so I really don’t have to worry about it. Mumbai has one of the largest slums in the world, which is where Slumdog Millionaire was filmed

I am REALLY excited aboout India! The post is posted the night before our plane flies out.I CANT WAIT!!!

Joseph Dixon's pre-trip reflection

I am excited to go to India next week. I can't wait to culturally immerse myself. I want to meet many diverse people. I've been joining all of the blogs and wikis and I'm almost ready to go. Something that I've already learned about India is that Mumbai and Bombay are the same city. I really appreciate this chance to broaden my horizons and expand my mind through participation in the flat classroom project.

Ethan's pre-trip reflection

I am extremely excited to be going to India.
This will be an incredible experience for everyone
and I know will change my view on a lot of things.
I cant wait to travel to this country and work with
people all across the world.
We leave tomorrow the only problem with this trip is the
eighteen hour flight.
Overall this will be a wonderful trip and
a great learning experience.

Jordan's Pre-Trip Reflection

I am very excited to be going to India. This will be a life changing experience, and I cannot wait to experience this. We are going to leave tomorrow, and this is my first time out of the country. I am most looking forward to working with people from all over the world, and learning about other cultures and other views. This is all new for me, so I am not sure what to expect, and that makes me a little nervous. Over all I am so ready.

Kaycie's Pre India Reflection

It's the day before we go to India and I'm extremely excited, although stressed. I look forward to working with other teens around the world and learning more about their culture. It will be the experience of a lifetime. I hope to come back with many things to tell my peers. I am looking forward to the tours as well as the conference itself. It will be my first time at an event like this *(as well as my first time out of the country) so I really don't know what to expect. I will be reflecting throughout the trip of my encounters along the way!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Daniel's Pre - India Trip Reflection

The days leading up to the trip have dwindled down to two weeks
and you can feel the tension. I have been asked by friends and family why I am still considering going half way around the world to a foreign country with all the dangers over there. The way I look at it ... this is a once in a lifetime chance to go see another part of the world. I have taken every precaution possible. I am glad to see that my friends who are not going are preparing to video skype us, so I can actually see them. The pictures below show our hotel and some of the places that we will be visiting.

Elephanta Island
The Trident Hotel

Juju Beach