Friday, July 31, 2015

It's All About Changes

Posted by Michael.

Recently we have undergone quite a few changes here in Agartala. We have seen the departure of many of the Fathers in the area, specifically Fr. Jilson, the secretary of St. Andre and Fr. George Jacob the accountant at Holy Cross and with these departures come new faces in Fr. Binoy at St. Andre and Fr. Valerian at Holy Cross.

Along with the shifting of Fathers, has also come shifting of weather as we are now out of the impossible heat and have entered into a time of impossible rain. Monsoon is upon us and that means that there is about a 100% chance of rain at some point, everyday, usually at the most inconvenient times. This change in weather also means the mold inside the house is at an all-time high and our clothing never dries after being washed.  Not so surprisingly, drying your clothing inside the house takes quite a long time and the humidity certainly isn’t helping. I’m sure having damp clothing hanging about also contributes to the presence of mold.

Kirsten and I also just had our third…or fourth change in our class schedules, hopefully the last time! Miss Papiya returned after her maternity leave and so the class schedules needed to be shifted in order to accommodate her subjects. It just goes to show that you should always be prepared for the unexpected!

Another change is that we all said goodbye to vacation! During the past few months we have had seemingly endless days of vacation and rather limited school time. This is due mostly to the fact that the summer months are the main time for vacation and since we teach at two different schools and had different summer vacation schedules, our house has been a revolving door since about May. Jess, Jenny and Sarah went to Thailand at different times, Kirsten met her parents in Singapore and Malaysia, I did some traveling in the North East to Assam and Meghalaya and Hadi held down the fort in Agartala. We will now be pretty consistent at school until Puja holidays in October but as we are entering festival season, sporadic holidays come up rather frequently, almost once a week, but only for a single day.

Perhaps the most significant change we have undergone is that we are no longer in the first half of our service year but we have entered the second half. Six, or in my case eighteen, months into the program and it was time for some mid-year reflections. We have weekly group reflections here in Agartala and that can mean anything from watching a movie or TV show together, delving into serious topics such as current events or culture shock, crafting letters to ourselves, playing the question game, sharing about an inspiring family member or even the much awaited night of star gazing (looking at you Hadi).

At last week’s reflection Jess came up with the idea to create a timeline of what we have done so far during our time in Agartala and to make a predictive second half of our year timeline. The activity gave us time to reflect on the things that have stood out over the past six months and when we shared we each noted things that we had forgotten and shared some laughs along the way. The second half of the timeline then gave us the opportunity to set some goals for what we hope to accomplish in the second half of the year. While we shared some similar things such as continuing to travel and celebrating Thanksgiving, we each also had individual goals that we hope to accomplish over the next several months.

While it will obviously be difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen over the next few months it was a nice activity to guide us as we move along. This is also a good time for personal reflections for each of us to make sure that we get as much as possible out of this experience and that we leave feeling like we have done everything we set out to do. It will now be full steam ahead as we head into the second half of our service year and as I know from experience, the second half of this year will be gone before we know it!

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