The four agreements of Deepanam

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The four agreements of Deepanam school are, care for yourself, care for others, care for materials and last but not least care for the planet.

To fully absorb the meaning of these agreements we did an event where 56 children were split into groups of six each facilitated by a student of the Faith group, we made posters about the different agreements.

Here is the feedback from each group

The Light group students really enjoyed it, but as there was a language barrier some of them did not really understand, they felt they should have been given more specific instructions.

The Peace group students had a lot of fun and were very involved in what the were doing.

The Grace group students also had fun but felt it was a bit too chaotic.

The Faith group students had a lot of mixed feelings about this event, some felt it was not needed but anyways went along with it, some were pleasantly surprised while some who expected great outcomes were a tad disappointed.

Although the event turned out to be a mixed bag, all of us learned a lot and our posters now hang in the central area, lighting up the school.

POETRY EVENING

On the evening of the 20th of October, each student in Faith Group recited a poem for friends and family. Our teacher, Mahavir, informed us that we would be doing this a few months in advance. His idea was not received with

enthusiasm from most of our class.

Since we both are passionate about poetry, we couldn’t wait until the day and we were seriously writing our poems while the rest of our class thought we were psychopaths. We shared our ideas and helped each other.

It was informed well in advance, most of our class only finished their poems the weekend before the evening. We had a few run-throughs a few days before and we were all quivering with nervousness even though our audience was only our friends and teacher.

Back to the night! The event was announced by Aanya. The stars were out in the sky, as we stood one by one in a horse shoe of candles in front of our expectant audience. The fire lit up our faces while we recited our uniqueness. Our very special guest was Olivier’s 2 year old daughter who wandered on to the stage and the background music of our poem was her tinkling laugh.

All in all, we enjoyed this experience. It was a great opportunity for us to go on stage and increase our confidence. WE hope to do this again!

– Manya and Aiyana

 

 

HERE ARE SOME EXCERPTS FROM SOME OF OUR POEMS:

Summer nights, the cicadas sing,/write me a letter against the summer sands,/one I can’t keep. – Gayatri, from “Hello”

Years of plundering and pillaging/By the wonderful human race;/Perhaps our sun has started setting- /Our house is on fire, they say./Joy we have brought, but sorrow more/As we stumble through the ages,/The wounds we’ve inflicted stretch from shore to shore:/When will the sun stop rising? – Manya, from “Setting Sun”

A tinkling laughter like windchimes in the wind/A deep chuckle like thunder gliding across the sky/A childish laugh running across the room spreading joy – Aanya, from “Tapestry”

We travel along this river/choosing in which course to flow/going along with the rapids/but sometimes against the wind’s blow/Floating through the moon’s tears/and living the storm of the stars/Planets, orbiting around my soul/I am, my own universe – Aiyana,from “The Cosmos In Me” 

There are many more…

 

 

 

 

Teacher’s day

September 5th. Teachers day. In Deepenam, we celebrate teacher’s day by giving the teachers somewhat a break. Basically, the oldest class teaches the rest of the school for around a day.

I took the youngest group, Light group, along with one of my closest friend.

The plan wasn’t foolproof or anything as we’d put it together just the day before.

We walked into class to be greeted by eager and excited kids. We did the morning circle, chanted, and started class.

We had chosen to read during the first period since their reading buddies were busy. I had brought some books which I’d read during my childhood in Australia.

We read for about an hour, taking turns before the second period started.

I’d brought in questions for them to answer about animals.

“What’s your favorite animal and why? What does it eat?” And so on. Some drew the animal and others just wrote. There was a kid that didn’t really understand English but with the help of a couple of people I knew, I could somewhat get her to write a couple of things.

We gave them some time just before snack time to take a breather outside and play.

During snack, I quickly decided what to do for the next class which was with the second group. Peace group.

The bell rang and I quickly went to the next class.

I was tamil. and since I couldn’t speak Tamil much, I had to get help from someone else. My friend had to take the class that could speak Tamil and I had to take the class that couldn’t.

Either they were really tired or they just didn’t want to participate because even though I’d suggest playing a game, they didn’t listen. They ran around and refused to listen.

Then I tried a different approach and took them back into the class since they couldn’t focus outside (Or so it seemed)

I tried to find out what the knew and didn’t so I could teach at their level but they still didn’t focus as they flipped their chairs over and started playing bumper cars with their chairs. I eventually gave up and sat on the window sill and waited for them to calm down. They never did so I just stayed at the window sill for 15 minutes until the bell rang and it was lunch.

Everyone else seemed so content so I decided not to be a killjoy. After lunch, it went back to normal and I went to craft. As a student.

It was fun but at the same time pretty exhausting. I honestly wouldn’t mind my future career being a teacher but not something I’d jump at joy for.

Light group( age 7,8) was really fun to work with until the end where it was a bit hard to control them. They were all so enthusiastic and ready to learn in the morning. Since I’d worked with them last year, I knew more or less what to expect but it was still really fun, as the oldest, to bond with the youngest ones at our school.

Since some of them were new, I didn’t know all of their names and I still don’t but I hope I do in the near future

The peace( age 9,10) group was a bit more laid back but they were all fun to be with. I was a bit nervous at the start since they were older and a bit less responsive. I’d have to be a bit more serious with this class. Childish tricks and threats weren’t going to work on them. Or that’s what I thought. They all seemed really happy and willing to participate in class. And even though I was a bit worried, it was really fun to do painting with them.

-GayatriIMG_20191007_093533

My trip to Japan

I went to Japan this year. It was slightly different from other years as I’d gone to Hiroshima and Osaka before going to my grandma’s house.

i first went to osaka and then went to hiroshima which i would absolutely go again. it felt so solemn over there and was overwhelming almost.

I visited the peace park and left the 1000 cranes we made at Deepanam under the goddess of peace statue.

Of course, I went to other places apart from the peace park such as Miyajima. the only way to go to miyajima was by ferry, and i loved the ferry ride.

when we reached miyajima, there were so many deers and the huge torii gate of course.

we went trekking to a shrine atop the hills and when we’d reached, although exhausting, it was a nice place. we had to trek for a while after reaching the first shrine to reach the top.

there was also a ride that included lines and stuff to get you further up the hill before you could finally reach a stop where you could rest and there was a nice view there.  we had lunch there.

we started climbing down and had a short rest when we reached the first shrine which was the one with an eternal flame of love, boiling water.

we stopped there for a while before continuing.

when we left hirosima, we got onto a sleeper bus which was a really comfortable ride and when we did reach, i was surprised that it was so fast.

we got to my grandma’s house and settled down.

After a couple of weeks of settling down, we went to meet the school teachers. this year, I’d be starting middle school. I was slightly nervous but when I did go to school, it was really fun.

many people were from elementary school and I knew most of them. when i got to class, i realised that my closest friend was in the same class and i was so ecstatic. i had a lot of fun there and made many memories.

-Gayatri

The class play: A Thousand Paper Cranes –

The faith group presented the play ‘A Thousand Paper Cranes’ recently. The play was fully planned, prepared and executed by the students themselves… and the performance was brilliant!

On the following Monday, the students were asked to write a few lines about their experience of preparing and performing the play. The reflections were interesting – ringing true the old adage that “…there are as many versions to an expedition as the number of mountaineers..” 🙂

Here are some excerpts from the students’ reflections – with minor paraphrasing in some cases to aid comprehension.

“… this year Mahavir gave us a lot of crazy projects. The play was one of them. When he told us we can do our own play, I wasn’t even that surprised. …He made us write a book in one month, start a class journal, going on a trip and writing a huge report on it. … For this play, we had to do all by ourselves – find a play, a script, find  a director, and lots of other work…”

*****

“…I didn’t learn much. I don’t think there is much to learn when performing a play. I mean, I learned about Sadako’s life.

I was very inspired by one kid who jumped over a cactus and twisted its leg two days before the performance. That was just genius…

I think it was good we had someone who knew Japanese culture because she really helped make the play more realistic and alive.

I think we did amazing for the short time we had. There were times I thought there was absolutely no way we could do it because we never even had a proper rehearsal. But I think we did better on the final performance, although it felt very rushed, and people seemed angry and stressed, but the acting was good.”

*****

“…so this year, just like every year, we did a collective play. Three years back, we did a thrilling play called ‘King Arthur’. I was a knight and felt I could have done better. Next year, I was absent at the time of the play. Then this year, the final year, we had a very nice play that was very fun to be part of. This year’s play was quite different from most others in Deepanam as it was for the first time directed not by a teacher but by a fellow classmate. … This play was much less childish than the other plays I was in….”

*****

“…during the first many weeks, the director never gave to practice my scene. She was always stuck in the first four scenes. I was watching everyone practice and was sitting in the audience place and I was so bored…”

*****

“…it was decided that a student should direct the play. V directed the play. We had very less time – just a month, and our practice was horrible and we thought we should give up but Mahavir never gave up and V forced us to come on Saturdays and some Sundays. We never practiced with props and got the props only in the last week… we were so tired in the last few days but we still put in all the energy we had as it was the last play together…”

*****

“… the play taught me to be patient with others and myself since I feel I was stubborn sometimes…”

*****

“…I learned to improve my acting skills… and I was inspired by everyone else’s acting skills… it is a better idea to have one of the students directing the play…”

*****

“…My role was not big but I enjoyed it. My experience was bad as it was boring – we just did my scene 2 weeks before the play – but I was watching others practicing – it was funny to watch them. Our director was annoying – she didn’t give me free time and she wanted to do light rehearsal and it was for three days and it was horrible, but when it was the actual play I was scared but it went well. It was fun to do it as it was my last play in Deepanam…”

*****

“….I am the director, people expect me to have a lot to say, and I have a lot I can say…

My name is V, and I am a little crazy. I took up the challenge of being the director without even knowing what it is! I have never even seen a proper play, what would I know about directorship? So for the first few weeks, I kept watching videos and documentaries about plays…

The documentaries etc were useful. They taught me everything I shouldn’t do…They were not bad at all, but all the techniques they used would never work with our class. The class doesn’t’ exactly know what they want, but in all honesty, neither did I! I just had a clear vision that I wanted to make this the best play done by Deepanam…

At times I felt stupid, humiliated and regret – not because of the students, but because of myself. Every time a rehearsal went bad I would blame myself by saying I am a bad leader who can’t control them. But after a few more classes of feeling down and in the dumps, I realized, I am not perfect, I can make mistakes but at the end of the day I am proud of the hard sleepless nights and every time I cried, I picked myself up again. I am proud of how resilient I have become. More than all the compliments and the execution, I loved the things I have learned about leadership and myself…”

*****

“…In the beginning, we had play practice with S, but the Mahavir told S that we could not do a play with her as most of us did not listen to her and she had to scream at us…Then another guy called C came to do theater with us. I didn’t like him – he does not know how to work with children – and in the end, we did not do the play with him. Our class is very uncooperative (I noticed that…) …finally we did a play directed by our own classmate…

I was the grandmother in the play. It was not a big role. And I wanted the main role but I did not get it. I enjoyed the play very much… I got to wear a yukata! (I was hoping that the grandmother gets to wear a kimono) and she did…I am actually glad the play is over now, and it is off our ‘To do’ list before we graduate from Deepanam…”

Sandalwood Experience

screen2

We went to the sandalwood forest towards the end of the trip to Chinnar. We examined the forest from outside for a while until we found an entry inside one of the parts that were cleaned of the weeds and parasitic parts that were cleaned of the weeds and parasitic plants for research purposes. When we entered there was no prominent smell or sight, it seemed like any other forest. The only thing eye-catching was the giant squirrels but then walked in two forest officers who were really knowledgeable about sandalwood. As they started to answer our questions, I got more and more interested. One question would provoke multiple others, there was so much more to this forest than what it had seemed Sandalwood experience. And by the end, the giant squirrel became the least interesting thing there.
The amount of effort that was put to safeguard it from people who steal this wood
was astonishing. They also went above and beyond to ensure that they don’t interfere
in the naturally existing ecosystem. They only use the trees that have naturally hit
the ground. They manage to commercially sell even though they don’t allow any trees
to be cut. One of the most prominent notes were that the sandalwood is not very easy
to grow. It’s not very adaptive and the Marayoor climate, altitude, and soil are molded
for the perfect environment for sandalwood. At first, I did not really understand why
the trees here are considered so much better than any other around the world. I was
expecting their reasons for it to be very vague, almost like a biased mother talking
about her child. On the contrary, to my expectations, they had very valid answers and
proof. It was surprising at first but after hearing about the effort they put into
keeping the forest as natural as possible, it became believable. The two men
communicate in Malyalam and not in English, so I was constantly asking for
translations from my teachers. I had a lot of questions that he kindly gave answers to.
I also really want to thank them since they took out the time to meet us and give very
comprehensive and informative answers to all of our questions. We ended up staying
there talking to them for a very long time even though it didn’t feel so. And by the
end, the giant squirrels became the least interesting thing there.
– Vyomini

Our trip to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

screen1We started at 6.58 am on the 25th of January from our school, Deepanam
from Auroville on a bus ride that we did not know would last for 12 whole
hours or even more! In the beginning, the journey was fun, we sang songs on
the top of our voices, talked with each other. But after about 3 hours of the
ride, we did not know what to do. Some of us slept but throughout the ride,
most of the time, we talked to each other. Though we listened to music as the
speakers were horrible and would randomly go all squeaky, it was useless to
listen to music. I don’t really know how to explain. It took 463/458/485 km
from Auroville to reach our hotel in Marayoor, Kerala. We first had to stop at
the Tamilnadu State boundary check post to sign that we were leaving
Tamilnadu and going to another state. Later we had to stop at the Tamilnadu
Forest check post and then at the Kerala Forest check post and sign in both
offices. It is called the Anamalai Tiger Reserve and in Kerala, it is called Chinnar Wildlife
Sanctuary. This office is around 500 Msl (meters above sea level). Marayoor is
around 2000 Msl. The check post was 16 km away from where we stayed in
Marayoor. It took us about 45 minutes up the winding roads, from the check post to
our accommodation in Marayoor. I still remember how scary it was to look down
the mountain slope from my window or even up ahead while sitting on the front
seat of the bus. There were many monkeys too! Which were cute. But also scary at
the same time. The Muthuvan village that we went to visit was 7 km to the Chinnar
check post.
-Sana, Leah, and Arav

My NaNoWriMo experience

I honestly enjoyed it a lot even though all my deadlines were piling up on me and it was quite stressful. I was never the type of person to complain if I were to write a lot since I’m quite sure I could. I loved writing since a young age so I thought it would be simple.  We had to write in school during breaks and random times our teacher managed to make. I thought I could write at home but apparently, my old iPad couldnt do that and it refused to load. I was lucky I had started writing on some other page long before Nanowrimo because I began to skip days and on the weekends I couldnt write at home I began to doubt myself. I started to wonder if I could finish writing since the school keyboards were really hard to type on and the atmosphere kept distracting me. I even began plans for a second book.

I told my mom about this and asked whether she could help me. Im glad I did because she suggested I use her I-pad. That really saved me and I got so excited I began to write about 4000 words a day! The keyboards were so easy to use and I could choose to listen to music as well! I was writing and writing and writing. I forgot all the deadlines and everything. I just kept writing and easily cleared the 20,000-word goal. Dont get me wrong though! I may have finished the goal but I wasn’t even anywhere near the climax of my story. I had added so many details and was putting off the rest of my story because I thought it was “way too short. There needs to be more of a time gap! He can’t just do everything in a week! I already made him leave his house after three days! There wasn’t even time to understand his family‘s behaviour!” So I made his adventure longer and longer until writer’s block hit me like a wrecking ball. Oof! I kept putting off the rest of the story until I realised it was November 30th, and the deadline was ready to hit me. I needed to write everything in a single day! I begged my mom to let me stay up late and I wrote all the time, ignoring the spelling mistakes. Forgetting my capital letters and destroying my grammar. I kept writing. Then, I started writing while standing because I had to charge the device. I paced around the house when I got a writer’s block, I searched up ideas and thing I never thought I’d search up. I wrote random things in my note in an attempt to get rid of a writer’s block. I forgot time existed and I was whirling around in a jumble of words and ideas until I felt like the clock was watching which broke my trance and I was back. The clock ticking. As if to tease me. I could hear my heartbeat as I realised the time was 11:59. My fingers typed twice the speed as I tried to finish the new goal that I’dgayatri decided for myself after I’d cleared the original goal. Forget 100%. my goal was 200%. I bit my lip and kept glancing at the clock. 198%…. And that’s when the clock struck 12:00. I didnt become Cinderella though. I started at my screen, wondering if Nanowrimo would close completely and I couldn’t write anymore. Guess what? That never happened. I kept writing. It soon became 2:00 in the morning and the goal percentage hadn’t gone any higher than 198% even though the word count had. I was currently on 39000 or something and that’s when I heard a creak come from my bedroom. My heart stopped momentarily and knew I was going to lose my head to a demon.

What are you doing up so late?! You said you’d be done by twelve!” She growled. I had awakened the devil herself. My mom came up to me menacingly and I gulped nervously before promising I’d go to bed that instant. I ran to my bed as if my life depended on it and fell asleep immediately.

Gayatri.

Photography and Observation

Many of us were keen to explore Photography and we had the opportunity to do that this term.

“The camera is a instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Inspired by this quote, we began by learning to observe what’s around us before we pick up a camera to shoot. We also focused on knowing more about Black & White Photography and spent time around the school campus as we explored light and shade, textures and details, geometric lines, shapes and forms and  portraits. Here are some of the photos we clicked and processed later into Black & White photos.

 

 

News and Notes

 

So, for a week or two we were deciding what the name of our class magazine would be (as far as I was there) and we decided on “Deepanam’s leaves”. Then we went to news & notes headquarters. OK no. it’s not a war thing… uh, its actually a place next to town hall where Auroville’s weekly newsletter is published. We watched some newspapers being printed. Then the person at news&notes, Sabine, proposed the idea that we could design the front cover for youth day. So we all drew something for the cover.

newsand notes

We were told to merge drawings together.The drawing ended up as a girl holding earth outside a door that has lots of posters like “open only on youth day” and things like that. I think it was a nice idea. After we did that we chose our jobs  (for the newspaper we are doing a project). I ended up as the illustrator which I’m happy with. I’ve even come up with a story for the comic! The editor works really hard alongside the organizers to give us all the tasks to work on-  such as our first day of school and how we felt that day, or our favorite moment in school and many more topics. We even stopped painting classes for the magazine. (the creative writing teacher and the painting teacher is  the same person)  We are working really hard and I hope we won’t disappoint you!                                                                                                                           sincerely,

♥Gayatri♥  Age 12

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