"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." E. B. White

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

The giant package we received yesterday from Leah (and Susan and Farah) was put to good use again today, as Anna and I took several of the Disney books with us to the monastery.

Every morning during our long bus ride, we discuss our three classes and the lesson plans for the day. All of our lessons today revolved around the books. And the little monks loved it!

We started out the day with the intermediate class, ranging in age from 11 to 15, and had them take turns reading aloud from the pages. They read books about Lion King, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Cars. After each book had been read aloud by the little monks, Anna and I would re-read it out loud because these boys read so quietly that I would be surprised if they could even hear the sound of their own voices. Sadly with the intermediate class, the quiet voices only extend to reading out loud and not sitting quietly while other people are reading.

I was so excited for them to have these books because it was so clear that they were really excited about hearing the stories and seeing the pictures.

After the intermediate class, we normally have a 30 minute tea break before the tiny monks (ages 6 to 12) have class. Today, they heard that we had books, so several of the boys skipped their break and came to class to sit with us for an extra half hour of reading. Can you imagine? An entire class of little boys forgoing play time in the yard to sit with teachers? Adorable.

We distributed the books during the break and the tiny monks sat together, shared, and helped each other sound out bigger words that the little boys struggled to read. They then traded nicely and repeated the process with a new book.

Like the orphans, they were absolutely thrilled. When class began, Anna and I read the books aloud as they boys listened happily and interjected questions about words they didn’t understand and the characters in the stories. Even though the books were short, it took at least half the class to finish because the monks were so eager to ask questions.

Standing from left: Trinlay, Sherab, Jampal. Sitting in back from left: Chopal, Sanga, Migyur. Sitting in front: Dharma

Jampal, the youngest in the intermediate class, stayed in during break to re-read Toy Story

Little monks talking about Monsters Inc.

Practicing their reading with Lion King

Chopal reading Cars during his tea break

Chopal, Ngawang, Dharma, and Sanga read together before class

Sanga and Migyur , both 9 years old, reading Cars

So excited for their books!

Sweet, thoughtful little Migyur reading quietly (as always)

When we finished, we told the little monks that we had a surprise for them. These kids love Spiderman. Love. Him. One of the many treats in the giant package was a Spiderman coloring book with perforated pages, so we took it to the monastery and tore out a page for each of the boys. We also gave them several boxes of crayons, generously donated by the Jazzercise class that Anna teaches.

These boys were beaming at the site of the coloring pages and crayons. They sat quietly for the remainder of class coloring and nicely trading crayons to make sure their Spider(men?) were as accurate as possible. They also started singing The Itsy Bitsy Spiderman…

Much to my surprise (knowing how much they love Spiderman), every one of the little monks approached us at the end of class and offered us their drawings as gifts. I fully expected they would want to keep these pages, but they genuinely wanted Anna and me to have them.

I can honestly say that these little boys demonstrate more generosity and maturity than many adults I’ve met. They share, take turns, help each other, and give away what little they have (no matter how much they love it) as a sign of appreciation. And every single one of them said “thank you” for the coloring and reading books.

We could all learn a lot from these children.


Chopal showing off his spider web
Dharma, only 6 years old and the youngest in the monastery, shows me his coloring project

Proud of their work

Our advanced class is comprised of students ages 15 to 24. These monks have various level of English knowledge, so Anna and I hesitated in deciding if it was challenging enough to have them read Disney books. We decided to try it out, which turned out to be an excellent exercise.

The advanced monks took turns reading from the pages of the books, and then telling us which words they didn’t understand. We ended up with over 30 words that the class discussed, including “guardian,” “explosion,” and “announcement.” All of these words came straight from the pages of children’s books, and resulted in a great learning opportunity for these young men.

I’m so glad we’re able to leave these books behind because I know the monks will continue to read, learn from, and value them. And like the drawings from the orphanage, I’ll be bringing home several pictures of Spiderman from some of my favorite little boys.

The boys put themselves in height order and were excited to show us their "Namaste" pose. Clearly they've done this before. They staged the photo three or four times, but one would inevitably lose his balance and all of them would come toppling down, giggling hysterically.

Ngawang, me, and Migyur

Me and Sherab. He's 12, loves to learn, and attends both the young and intermediate class to improve his English.  In the older class, he always participates, and in the younger class he helps us with the little boys. He has a bright, charming personality.

Tenzin is quiet and extremely smart. I can tell he wants to participate, but doesn't like to compete with the other monks for attention or to provide answers in class. We regularly call on him and praise him to make him feel special. 

Chopal is one of the brightest in his class. He works so hard on every assignment and loves to show us his finished work. If we point out a minor error, he always corrects his mistakes and brings his work back to show that it is perfect.
Anna shows the captivated monks a video on her cell phone of her dog swimming in the pool - something they have never seen or imagined before!

Sanga is the sweet, silly, class clown. He is a monk on the outside, but still a little boy on the inside.

I adore little Migyur. He says everything in a whisper and has the best manors of any child I have ever met. He is always smiling, loves to be around us, and regularly insists that we join him for tea and lunch. I know that little monks are not orphans, but he's another one that I would take home in a heartbeat!

Baby Dharma is only 6 years old and is missing his front teeth...among others. He is shy, curious, and so much fun.  All the other monks look out for him, and you can often find him running around during tea breaks attempting to fly kites or fiddling with his robe.  He is as sweet as he looks.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing to me that at such a young age they share and offer gifts of something they admire and would otherwise keep for themselves. Truly amazing. They are so adorable in all those pictures, especially the ones where they are showing off their artwork.