On my way to a conference, I need to fly from Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat. It’s home to a number of universities and schools and home of one of the most active chapters of ELTAI, a teacher’s organization here. The head of that organization offered to take me around town and introduce me to a number of people. He also set up a visit to one of the best K-12 English-medium schools in the city.
This is my first visit to a school here, and it was a great start. I had a wonderful time watching adorable 3-5 year olds tell stories in English, then had a very nice conversation with a 12 and a 13 year old. Their conversational skills were quite high. I was able to see a sample of their writing that was quite interesting to me as well.
They all have beautiful handwriting but the writing assignments I saw were all somewhat formulaic or were copying from the board. I’ve been told that the need to introduce writing assignments that can help promote original writing is a major interest here.
Overall, the entire staff and the children seemed very happy there. The rooms were beautifully decorated with different themes. Everyone was busy and productive, and there were quite nice facilities with a computer lab and audio-visual equipment, etc. I suspect other schools I visit will be quite a contrast.
Later in the day, after a delicious lunch, I visited the ashram where Gandhi lived. It was a really beautiful, peaceful place and I was really glad to learn more about Gandhi’s life where I could put it all in context. I wasn’t aware of the details before of Gandhi’s social action, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have really gotten much from reading it without having first visited Gujarat. My very generous host gifted me a copy of Gandhi’s autobiography that I look forward to reading.
Then my host’s wife joined us and they took me to an open air market with amazing traditional handiwork and fabrics. With her bargaining skills, I bought a couple of really gorgeous pieces.
In the evening, I and other guests were taken to a restaurant with a fusion of Rajasthani and Gujarati food which was delicious, but this place also has amazing atmosphere. It had convoluted pathways, costumed dancers, puppeteers, a working potter, lots of lanterns, a moat… really quite something.
Now for a quick sleep. I have a very early flight to Hyderabad.