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CR provides out of school programming that prepares students from underserved, rural Indian communities for success in academics and in life.  We provide instruction in English, math, literacy, computers, art, music, and dance for over 1600 students. CR strives to instill in its students the character strengths likely to bring life satisfaction and academic achievement. CR centers provide a safe haven for children living in severe poverty and facing adverse experiences and gives them the confidence to take the first steps on a path to a better life.  Read more about our programs.

Reunions, Continuations and Contemplations

CR Intern Colin Powers is working in India for the next two months.

It’s the second Sunday of my second stay here at SAMSSS and the first one I’ve successfully not succumbed to my jet lag and slept the better part of it away (that’s a lot of ‘s’, I know). I’ve now completed a full week of teaching at St. Mary’s and I can say that sleeping is definitely not far out of question. My notions of what it would be like to teach to a classroom of forty children were virtually all off, besides that I’d be a nervous wreck on the first day and that there would be lots of sweating and gesturing taboot. There is much of that. It has been no easy task to filter my ideas and abstractions for teaching written English through the scope of a kid who is just beginning to piece the language together for themselves, doesn’t read storybooks, poems or even comics on a regular basis, and whose only real interactions with the language (for the most part) happen on the blackboard, through recitation and memorization. Or James Bond.

Colin teaching 8th Standard English at St. Mary's

‘Intimidated’ is probably the best word I could summon to describe my gut on Tuesday morning, when I was plopped down in front of my first class of squirming, giggling eighth standard kids. Maybe ‘shaken, not stirred’, if you will. But things change quickly once you figure out that all their nervous curiosity and unknowing rubs off easily onto yourself, and becomes an inclination to learn and create.

Colin keeping them interested

On Wednesday I showed my VIII-B class how to write acrostic poems. Remember when you got a new notebook in elementary school and on the cover you had to come up with words that describe yourself using each letter of your name? That’s an acrostic. The class came alive. I let the kids fly as they shouted suggestions at me from their seats, and I would copy down their silly creations onto the blackboard. After one or two more periods of this for each class I began to show them that you could form real sentences out of these poems, and eventually I’d like to see them crafting little stories from simple brainstorming exercises like this. Obviously it will take time, but I’ve already witnessed a few kids writing acrostics independently, apart from my examples and prompts on the board.

Colin-taking it all down

Saturday I read from Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a book Betsy had sitting in her room from a book fair in Pondy. Though it may still be slightly above their comprehension levels, it was fun to map parts of the plot out on the board as a visual appetizer to the more difficult vocabulary and concepts. Weekend class is a torturous notion in itself so I deem drawing a few chalk dragons a welcome stress reliever. Still, even when I read to them there is eagerness shooting off in all directions, which helps me worry less about my job and focus more on the excitement they show for the language.
Apart from my school days at St. Mary’s, I’ve been settling in on my return to Vikravandi. Things are generally as they were when I left. SAMSSS has a new exterior paint job, and there are two new puppies that frequent the dining room, but besides that it is mostly unchanged. Such is rural life. Such is paradise.

Colin handles English alphabet assessments at Malakondai

Every afternoon during the school week, Betsy, Agni and I make our rounds to the CR after school care centers at neighboring villages to test the youngsters on their letters and alphabets. Each time I get to relive the experience of the ongoing roadside carnival that is daily life here. It’s difficult not to want to project yourself onto every little wrong you see. Not all can be fixed. Many of the subtleties of the culture here can be jagged or unsettling but better left out in the sun to grow as they may. Faith almost seems a more relevant part of my day here than at home. I think the important thing is to remain open and keep barreling forward, sounding your goofy saxophone-esque car horn all the way to let everyone know you’re ready to surrender to the overwhelming color of it all.

The Joy of A Soccer Ball

Jamie Martin is a senior at Dickinson College in Carlise, Pa and a member of the varsity soccer team.

As we would travel to different centers and play soccer with the kids, we all saw how much joy it brought them just to see actual soccer balls and do drills that tested and developed their skills. For us, the challenge would be how to actually get them to perform these drills and do something productive that they could take away and build off of in the future.

Jamie explains the drills

Aside from the obvious language barrier and young ages, it was perhaps more challenging dealing with the ambiguity of each situation we were in, which would force us to have to improvise and change our game plan accordingly. While at times it may have been stressful and somewhat frustrating, it was surpassed by the rewarding feeling we would get when they started to actually get the hang of the drills and more importantly, enjoy themselves while doing it.

Teaching the younger set

While the kids may have learned new soccer techniques that would hopefully help them become better players, it was more rewarding for us to see them enjoy themselves through being fully immersed in the moment allowing them to forget about all of the problems they had outside the school walls.

One on one drills

It is amazing how something as simple as a ball can allow people to connect and share an experience that leads to mutual benefit and learning. While the kids would hopefully learn from our sessions and the skills we taught them, I found myself constantly learning more from them.

The girls join in

Unlike many sports that require hoops, bats, and other equipment, soccer can be enjoyed simply through kicking a ball back and forth or creating goal posts with sticks. Even the ball itself can be made from scratch by balling up plastic bags and tying them around each other; a new technique that I would see here in India. Luckily for us, we had the balls donated by One World Futbol and cones to make our sessions as productive as possible for every kid. Above all, teaching such a simple game made us realize how easy it is to help the kids here in India and impact their day in a positive way.

Working hard at Anilady

India is truly an amazing country, and as I continue to reflect both with those who also came on the trip and within myself, we all seem to come to the similar conclusions. That being, how amazing the people here are, and how selfless and genuine they are both in their actions and their words. Unlike America, there really is no such thing as a ‘first impression’ in India, because the people are exactly who they are from the moment you meet them to the moment you leave. From our very first steps out of the Chennai airport where we were warmly welcomed at 4am by a group larger than ourselves, to my last days here writing this blog, the people here have remained as beautiful as the country itself. While it is hard not to get emotional thinking about leaving, I am more overwhelmed with the joy of knowing that I will be back and that India will always have a special place both in my heart and the rest of my life.

The joy of a soccer ball!



03.09.14 —

All in A Day’s Work for CR Intern Colin Powers

Colin and the hostel boys

CR Intern Colin Powers starts his day by teaching English and math to 50 4th and 5th graders. In the afternoon, he shifts to CR’s after school program and teaches English to a group of middle school students from two nearby schools. He ends his day by teaching math and English to a group of boys who live in a nearby hostel. Teaching this last group is definitely an exercise in “blended learning.” The boys range in age from 7-17. Some know a little English and basic math, others are still learning their numbers and letters. Colin takes it all in stride. When it all gets too overwhelming-he turns to soccer! Colin is a returning CR volunteer. In 2012, he  joined a group of volunteers from Camp Hill Sr. High School (Camp Hill, PA) and worked through one of the worst cyclones in south India’s history. Undeterred by his cyclone experience, Colin signed on to spend part of his gap year between high school and college interning for CR. He begins his freshman year at Bennington College in August.

01.10.14 —

CR Lego Teams’ Final Prep Weeks

Coach Siva Advises the Team

CR’s Lego Robotics teams are in their final two weeks of preparation for the First Lego League Competition.  Each team is required to research a natural disaster and present their recommendation for resolving a problem related to their chosen disaster. CR teams have chosen floods and cyclones-both natural disasters faced in their villages. The teams must also build and program a robot capable of completing 20 physical challenges related to natural disasters. Led by coaches Siva and Suresh, 20 team members will travel to Bangalore for the January 28th competition.

Mario Cassion Anand
Indian Counselor
2012/2013 Summer Camp

“I am a part of all that I met in my life.”
It is with immense pleasure and with whole hearted gratitude that I am expressing my experience here with Communities Rising. CR is really a great opportunity for the kids of my district and a very good pathway for a beautiful and bright future for India. CR has given me a great privilege to be an Indian counselor and to be a part of summer camp. “Education is the only way to emancipate the world” – a philosophy which was rightly chosen by CR.  It is by God’s grace they chose Tamil Nadu and are working for the betterment of the students in our district. CR has given its best in the way of teaching the kids swimming, robotics, photography, arts crafts, drama.  All the activities which we taught at camp are a great track for their life and educational. I can assure you as a teacher, that the impact of the summer camp is shown clearly in their academics in school. I want to thank the Communities Rising organization for the good work it has done. Wishing you all success CR and great years ahead!

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E-mail internships@communities-rising.org for more information.