Hello from The Valley School,
After more paperwork and squaring up with the New Woodlands Hotel in
Chennai once again The School (KFI) made available their bus to
transport our group to the train station. Our students were amazed to
see their names on the coach and their 19 seats reserved.
The train from Chennai to Bangalore was an experience thatour students
will never forget. A great chance meet people and see the countryside
as we zoom along the tracks. We witnessed much of the recent flooding
due to intense and abnormal rains that have hit the area recently.
Whole fields ond crops flooded out. Large animals leg deep in the
water, and the people doing their best to put their livelyhoods back
in order. To look into their world at a distance, while in motion,
gave us all lasting impressions. While the landscape, the vegetation,
and the people working the land and the animals were all very
memorable, my favorite out the window observation from that train trip
was of that age old Indian sun. As it set and cast its red glow on
the land and on the faces of the people I felt as though I had been
here before. The quality of the light from the setting sun in India
The kids were challenged by the conditions on the train. With a wet
floor, and the aroma of the restroom not far away, our seats and the
crowded conditions made the students a bit nutty by the end. The trip
did end up being a bit shorter than I had anticipated though. We met
two sisters that had been to Chennai for supplies, and also a senior
manager at Dell computers in Bangalore. He and his family had been
visiting his parents in Chennai for New Year's. His choice of second
class was interesting as he had his young daughter and a yopunger man
travelling with him. He was insistent that he help us find our
connection in Bangalore walking us out to the front of the train
station and making his family wait while he escorted us. Very nice
guy anyway....we talked quite a bit.
Then we piled in with Alok (Alook?) and the drivers after stacking up
and tying down all our bags. There was little traffic on the roads
overall due to how late it was but at first on the way out of the
train station we found Bangalore driving a bit more hectic than
Chennai (if that can be believed!).
We arrived at The Valley School and quickly met Kabir (spelling?)...a
long-time teacher here and KFI trustee. Niko remarked a few times at
how nice he was. He runs a post high school program (18-22 year
olds), and teaches younger students as well.
We got in so late that it took a bit to get us situated but everyone
here has been so helpful in giving our students every comfort.
Breakfast with the school children was incredible. Ian got right in
there from the start breaking off from the group to make new friends
amongst the students there. Later Claire and others also made a point
of eating with students and asking them questions. Ian also had a
great day playing volleyball and basketball with the school kids. He
is really enjoying the connecting part.
We sort of left our kids hanging a bit as Kelly,Laura,and I had a
wonderful discussion with Satish on Krishnamurti's visions of
education and the situation in the world today. He told us a great
joke that i happened to have the video camera switched on for....I'll
share that when we get back. His articulation of what K charged
teachers to do was inspiring. He shared with Kelly and Laura some
specific reading on the subject.
We got back with the students and kind of kept the dialogue going here
and there. Richard and Tristan are very thoughtful and turned on to
it at the moment. They talked of wanting to attend KFA dialogues and
starting new schools. That was something Satish mentioned too....that
to start new K schools it would have to be a project initiated by
students who had been at these schools. Richard said he would want to
add a bit of his own philosophy as well.
After the after the 3 o'clock snack and some chai (much better than in
the resaurants of Chennai), we took things slow, returned to
rooms...Kelly and Alex went for a run. Marcy tried on her ballet
shoes, Molly and Juna sang some rounds, I took a walk, and we all took
some time before dinner. We ate with the boarding students and
Chinnema (?) who then helped us get situated with new rooms for the
girls. She also brought the students extra food and blankets. They
are spoilng us.
Tomorrow we will get up for breakfast with the children, attend their
morning assembly, and then spend the morning in the art village as
they make preparations for the coming art "mela" or festival. After
lunch we will break up and attend classes with the younger students.
They are now moving to a truly mixed age group class organization
which is just one way in which the intent of the K schools is
The students are starting to feel better as they get good rest and
kick the coughs and one higher temperature... Juna had a tough train
ride but is starting to feel much better now.
The seniors are doing very well as they work together and extend
themselves to others here. I have some great footage and they are all
busy snapping photos of monkeys, hand size spiders, lovely young
smiling faces, and the beautiful countryside.
We are hoping all is well with you, and our hearts go out to Rory with
his recent accident, and to the Smith family for their tragic loss.
With love from India,
Hello From Rishi Valley School!
We drove north from Bangalore for about 3 ½ hours. We passed many small villages, many people working the land, and even a few camels! Some of the people lay their grains on the road so that passing vehicles can run over them and release the edible parts.
We arrived at the school, got situated in the guest accommodations, and promptly had a meal. Today we got everyone up here to the dining hall for breakfast, attended their morning assembly full of wonderful music and chanting, we were lead on an extensive tour of the grounds, and then ate lunch. Our tour took us to the famous banyan tree, their dairy, of course the different shops and classrooms, as well as to some of the agricultural projects that Rishi Valley is working on. The grounds here are huge and truly amazing. The surrounding mountains have the most beautiful large rocks. We hope to take some hikes up to the heights.
Right now the students have begun to attend some afternoon classes including Life Drawing with the 11th grade, Computers with the 12 th, English with the 7th grade, and two sections of Arts & Crafts with the 9th graders. Tomorrow we plan to make a presentation at their morning assembly, and Wednesday we will tour some surrounding villages and visit their rural education project.
Some of our kids will play sports this afternoon, others will rest in the rooms, and after dinner we have all been invited to one of the girls' dormitories to socialize. The seniors have begun to plug in here now. They really connected at the Valley School are making the adjustment to being in a new place. Rishi Valley School is amazing.
Bye for now….all is well,
Hello again from Rishi Valley,
Today we visited the most amazing little rural school. It was moving to see how much can be accomplished with so little. Geetha Veredan gave us a tour and a great introduction to their program. The students gave us a puppet show. Later we will view a documentary of the program. Tomorrow their is an early bird walk, music classes, and so much more. This morning we gave an informational assembly about our trip, our school, and ourselves. Each student described their interests and where they plan to go to school next year. We caught this on video and made some new friends in the process.
And now from the students:
"So where to start? I supose I could say how strange but yet firmiliar India has been for me. The environment in the school we are presently at, reminds me of Oak Grove. This has been giving me some sort of comfort. The school, Rishi Valley is surounded by mountains, some what like Ojai. Also the plants have been left relativly alone to grow naturaly. My classmates have been getting along remarkably well, and I am proud to say I havent had any animosity tourds anyone yet. Of course, the trip hasen't been just fun and laughs. It has been draining to see countless mal-nurished adults, kids, and dogs. It seems the only animals well fed here are the monkeys. It is hard to explain the feeling of India in this short paragraph, so I hope I can share my pictures when we return and that might give you a better idea of the impact this place has had on all of us." -Merry Webster
"In all honesty, I do not know where to begin. In our travels so far we have come to see the some of the beauty that remains sequestered away in this foreign land. We have come across new music, incredible individuals, exotic food, and impressive environments. However, while India itself is quite a remarkable place, there are facets of it that are far less pleasant. Some of those less than spotless sides include intensive poverty and a general lack of prosperity amongst the majority of the Indian populace. I can't help but be astonished at how such a rich and vibrant culture interacts with the rest of the world, both on an economic level and a social one. Despite all this, there is still much to see and learn during this sojourn, and it would far from proper to give a full description before it has drawn close to anything remotely similar to an end." -Tristan Parris
Our students have become much closer to the students here at Rishi Valley as they have attended History, English, and Economics classes, ate meals together, done some wonderful Drama workshops, and had some great discussions with them in classes and at the dormitories. Last night the girls were dressed up in Saris by girls from the dorm and taught dances and came back reporting having had a wonderful time together. Our boys were at the senior dorm singing songs and exchanging stories.
We also had a great dialogue with Radhika (the director here) about Krishnamurti's work and how it plays out at Rishi Valley.
Rita (an old friend of Krishnamurti) also participated in that discussion and gave personal accounts of traveling with K and her own interest in the philosophy. Our students are surprising me in that they are readily engaged in talks of this nature.
Yesterday Tristan and I put on a great performance at their morning assembly. He played a solo acoustic piece and I did some acoustic originals accompanied by Mana a student here that had learned my lyrics from past Oak Grove CDs. She sang beautifully. This was a real treat to connect with the students here over some simple music. This morning there was an amazing traditional Indian ensemble performing at assembly. There will be a special dance performance tomorrow.
Later today we will hike up into the mountains overlooking the school. The rocks and caves will give us much to explore. Gabe and Dylan will join the Rishi Valley soccer team tomorrow in a match against another school. They have been practicing with the team regularly. Marcy has been working with the dance teacher here and teaching younger girls Ballet. She has been so great in terms of sharing here talent. They plan to videotape some of her work with the students for further learning. Our students have been biking around the campus and surrounding villages as the school here maintains a fleet of bikes for students and visitors.
We decided to extend our stay at Rishi Valley one day as there are so many activities that our students can participate in on the weekend with the students here. From here we are on to the Centre for Learning outside Bangalore, then a day touring Mysore, and then on to the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary. Soon we'll be on the move!
Hi Oak Grove,
I've just returned from a bike ride with a few students to a neighboring village. We're at the Rishi valley School where our time is being filled with classes, a drama workshop, assemblies, sports, and tasty meals in the dining hall three times a day, visits to the hostels (dorms) and being shown how the school interfaces with the neighboring villages; there are many of them in this valley.
Yesterday after assembly I lead our students in a village outreach exercise. Equipped with day packs, water, small denominations money, paper, pen, and sturdy shoes; they were given the name of a near by village written on a piece of paperwith the phone number of the Rishi Valley School as back up, and nothing more. Each small group was required to locate their village, draw a rough map, find out the number of villagers, document their religions, the languages spoken, interview someone about their life, and purchase something to bring back and share with the group.
Hours later as the groups came filtering back to our meeting spot under the banyan treethat Krishnamurti planted, I saw; strength, absolute joy, and amazement about what had taken place for them in the villages, and the desire to experience more.
The objective with this exercise was for them to face their fears about the unknown and come away with a sense of self sufficiency and knowing no matter where we are we have some basic similarities and will be taken care of. the outcome was wildly successful.
We think of you all with great love,
"So far this trip has been everything and at the same time nothing I expected. Mentally preparing myself really didn't do much, because from the minute I stepped out of the airport I have felt amazed, scared, greatful, and confused to much greater levels than I have ever felt before. Each day is a new experience, some good and some bad. Getting to know the kids at each school, interacting with them, and seeing my classmates and teachers that I thought I knew inside and out being put in strange situations and seeing their reaction has definitely been the good; the food, the beds, the mosquito's, and toilets(or holes in the ground) consist of the bad. It's strange because by the end of the first week I was extremely homesick, which is something I have never quite experienced. I realized though, that even though I have been away from home for long amounts of time, it is always in a familiar place, or has normal food, and comfy beds, and normal toilets. Here, each of those things is a challenge, nothing is comfortable, which makes it a lot harder. Overall though, this experience has been great and I am so thankful to be here." -Erin Laine
We are hoping all is well at home. Please let the 9th,10th,and 11th graders at OGS know that we miss them too! We hope all the January Projects are stretching them to learn beyond the boundaries. Our students here are 100% engaged, and this trip is certainly blowing our minds and living up to all the expectations we've had and more.
Thank you....and we'll be in touch when we can,