School Visits and Smarak

Today we left the “compound” we’d been staying at for the first week of our trip and we made our way to a new part of Delhi.  On the way we made some school visits to find out from teachers how they teach/use ahimsa (nonviolence) in their schools. The first school we stopped at was Hira Lal Jain Secondary School.  It is located in one of the most impoverished areas of Delhi and was created by the Jain Society to offer free, quality education to the students in this neighborhood. Here are some photos from that school:

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After some presentations by education scholars and board members of the school, they invited us to stay for tea and some snacks. All of us on this trip are learning that “snacks” is just a code word for “we want to stuff you full of delicious homemade Indian food!” Feeling full, we said our good-byes and walked out to the bus that was parked maybe 50 feet from the entrance to the school.  Somehow, our bus got stuck (before we even were on it) and the easiest solution seemed to have people literally push the bus from the back. After several tries, they were able to move it 6 inches, so they decided more people pushing would mean they could move it further.  Image

While this demonstration of brute force was going on, monsoon rains started to descend, and we were being ushered to the closest covered area.  School officials from Hira Lal brought us back to their school to wait while the bus was fixed. Except it never did. Instead, we were brought outside and put into a variety of vehicles being driven by people we didn’t even know.

We arrived at the second school, The Mahavira Senior Model School, which is a private school run by Jains, but the students population is 30% Jains, and 70% other. There was a beautiful sign in the entry welcoming us  Image and we were each greeted with a bindhi mark on our foreheads. Image

We were brought up to a meeting room where some students performed songs about ahimsa,Image followed by a dialogue with teachers.  We asked them how they teach nonviolence to their students, and they asked us questions about challenges of dealing with the types of violence we face in American schools.  We went for a tour of the school and one of the highlights was the medicinal garden run by the school to help cultivate the ahimsa principle of community.Image

We hit the road again in a new bus that took us to our next school, which is where we are spending the night. It is another Jain complex called Smarak, which is similar to the one we stayed at last week, but this one is much bigger. The complex houses two schools (one elementary, one high school), a university, a male monk ashram, a female monk ashram, a Jain temple, the Institute of Indology, and several dorm-style living facilities.  Here are some photos from Smarak: ImageImage

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