The Home Stretch

Hello once more and thank you for stopping by. There have once again been plenty of goings-on since the last entry so let’s get cracking.

Over at the Harmony School, the girls have been busily implementing a communication wall for use in the classrooms, as well as assisting the school in their preparations for their upcoming Cultural Day. They have also been helping with the decoration of the school’s shop, where the students are able to sell the candles they make in their vocational training classes. The Harmony School also recently celebrated their Open Day, where the girls donned traditional Punjabi suits and were even called upon to make an impromptu speech.

At the Rotary School we have been once again working with students one-on-one and having a wonderful time. We have also had the chance to have a number of discussions with the teachers at the school, on topics such as strategies to enhance language skills in the classroom and AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). We have found these sessions to be enlightening and rewarding. Witnessing some mealtimes at the school this week which has given us another good opportunity to get some excellent speechie experience. We were even able to see the storage cupboards delivered and installed, following a request from the staff at the school that we use some of our fundraising money to make this happen. Despite some initial communication difficulties due to the ever-present language barrier, with the artful use of Google translate we were able to get this done.

Once again though, we have been both hard at work and hard at play. We have had the chance to visit two neighbouring tea plantations to conduct health promotion workshops with the workers. Our matinee performance was met with a standing ovation (although that may have had more to do with the offer of free gifts) and bindis rather than the traditional bouquet of roses for the female cast members.

We were also lucky enough to travel to Manali over the recent weekend. After a night of session plans, handover reports and an all-or-nothing game of ‘Spoons’, with the added danger of forks to give the game a vaguely Hunger Games-esque feel, we left at lunchtime on Friday and although we had anticipated a six hour drive, in yet another classic example of “India time,” we arrived at 9pm instead (“India time” can fairly be summed up as one big ‘ish’). Our weekend was filled with quad-biking, Himalayan gondola rides, temple visits, markets, henna, traditional costumes and an unfortunate yet undeniably humorous hit-and-run zorbing incident. We finished the weekend with an hour-long white water rafting trip down the Beas river. Many an adapted sea-shanty was sung, many a wave was traversed, many a wet and weary speech pathology student clambered out of the boats. It was a great way to end a great weekend and held us in good stead for the last week of our placements.

And here we now stand, on the cusp of our final days of placement here in Palampur. The idea of returning home is bittersweet; we have all formed close ties with the people and places here, and feel that we have almost become part of the furniture. We are savouring the time we have left, and Joginder-ji’s magnificent cooking. But we are all definitely looking forward to returning home and regaling those nearest and dearest to us with stories of our times here. Wish us luck! And you stay classy.

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