One of the best parts of being an ambassador is getting to reconnect with your inner child. For those of us who are empty nesters, being with the children was a great way to relive playing with our own children when they were young. Suddenly, we’re resurrecting old songs and games, Duck, Duck Goose, thumb wrestling, and those slapping rhymes that were so popular at camp when I was a girl. It was so fun to see the girls doing what we did, but on the other side of the world.
Our favorite rhyming song was: Chiv Chiv, Chapak. I only know it’s spelled this way from reading the social worker, Rupali’s notes.
Some of the games are also educational. Here’s a video of the girls practicing their A, B, Cs in English:
Rupali told us that our visit was very important to the children as many of them had never met people who were so different and from so far away. Some of the children asked if the sun shone in our country because we were so pale! Rupali described the wonderful time the children had with us as if they were “living in a dream.” Ah, so it was mutual! Besides all the fun we shared with the children and staff, we also unwittingly modeled something that comes so easily to most American parents. We, as a culture, are comfortable interacting and playing with children at their level. This engagement in play was something the staff was not accustomed to seeing. Nitesh and the house mothers realized that they could be with the children without an agenda. They could let down their roles as caregivers and just spend time playing. Also, Indians tend to not be as physically affectionate as Americans. We couldn’t seem to quit hugging these delightful children, and we are hoping the staff continues to hold them as often as we did.
On the other hand, it is immediately clear the children love and respect Nitesh and the house mothers. When we were making valentines, the children, delighted with the heart stickers, began to put them on their own faces. Laxmi got the idea to place one on Nitesh’s face, and soon other children followed her lead. Nitesh smiled and allowed his face to be covered in hearts.
Rupali observed, although we didn’t share a common language, we were able to communicate in the language of the heart.