Woke up at 6:50am to the sound of Max’s alarm and I started to get ready for a very big day. Morning meeting was at the usual time of 8:04am, where we discussed what would be happening today as we leave at 12pm sharp to catch the bus to the northern villagers so we can see the last 15 minutes of PLUS.
While we were waiting for Rajath to arrive at 10am, Max did his weekly individual debriefs, while this was happening I was going through the research Rajath and I collected yesterday.
While going through my research, I discovered that in Tibetan culture the mandala is a tool for gaining wisdom and compassion and generally is depicted as a tightly balanced, geometric composition wherein deities reside, the principle deity is housed in the centre. The mandala serves as a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment. Monks meditate upon the mandala, imagining it as a three-dimensional palace. The purpose of a mandala is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones.
Where as in Tibetan Buddhist culture and scripture, the sand mandala transmits positive energies to the environment and to the people that view them. While the Buddhist monks construct the mandala they chant and meditate to invoke the energies of the deities that reside in the mandala. After the monks have done this they ask for the deities’ healing blessings. A mandala's healing power extends to the whole world even before it is swept up and dispersed into flowing water—a further expression of sharing the mandala's blessings with all.
After looking through half the research I got yesterday, Rajath arrived for the two hours that we had him for. The reason we only had him for two hours is because we had to be ready at 12pm sharp. As soon as he arrived Jacob, Cal and myself were out the door to make the most of the time we had left.
After one hour and a half had past so we started to head back, so we had enough time to pack our bags for our weekend trip to Hampi. Once we were all packed and ready to go, we got a lift to Bannikuppe, where the charted bus was picking us up. For lunch we had vegetable puffs.
We then had a four-hour bus trip to the northern village of Kannur, to see the PLUS pods. We got there a bit early as we planned to see the last 15 mins of todays program so we didn’t totally distract the kids. PLUS holds two classes everyday, one from 4pm to 5pm and the second is from 5pm to 6pm. Since the first group starts right after school, they have three stages:
First stage is called the take off, where they play games for 10 mins to get the kids energy levels up and to help them get into the mood to learn after having a full day of school.
Second stage is called the flight; this goes for 40 mins (two 15 min sessions followed by a 10 min one), after each session the facilitator rings a bell indicating that it’s time to switch. The kids that were on the tablets move to the floor where they use laminated cards that require the kids to read out which side they want to match and they put them on the board, like you would in dominoes, then for the last 10 mins, as a group they form a circle around the room and they played a game of bang (my friends that were/are theatre students will remember this). Instead of just naming a person, the facilitator says either a month, day or number in Kannada, and the kids have to say the word in English or at least attempt it.
The third stage is called the land down; in this stage they again play games that reinforce what they learnt that day and it’s also a great way to have fun. Today we helped them do the hokey pokey to finish off todays lesson.
It was an amazing experience to see Indian children from varying ages taking part in an awesome program. We also got to see some of the exercises they take part in and some of the children wouldn’t let us go, they wanted us to stay but the class that goes from 5pm to 6pm. We also got to see some of the technology they are currently trialling but I’m not going to spoil anything.
We then got the same-charted bus into Bangalore, where Jacob and I walked around town for a bit, while we waited for the 11pm charted bus to Hampi. We got to Cubbon Park at 10:50pm where the bus was already waiting for us. Eight hours from now we will be in Hampi.