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Darjeeling!

Hello! It appears the internet is widely avaiable all over Darjeeling – we’ll be keeping in contact this way for our weeklong stay.  We arrived yesterday, after traveling 11 hours, and climbing the Himalayas in a crowded jeep – possibly the most beautiful drive in the world (terraced corn, tea gardens, and wild monkeys are something to be seen!).  Our hotel costs aprox. 20$ a night, for three people (i bargained!).  Today we begin our research about the attractions, and soon we explore the mountains!  Alicia will write very soon – love you!

p.s. momma and daddy, we’re coming here in two years – theres no way I can possibly describe the beauty of DARJEELING!!!!!!

p.s. mom and pete, we’re not coming here in two years because you won’t travel, but maybe i’ll come back with boo’s family.  love you!

oops

3 days later –
So, we couldn’t update anymore because the internet service has been down for a couple days. Alicia’s update still in process. Tomorrow we leave early for a week in Darjeeling. Then, one more week in Dinajpur, and three days in Dhaka – and WE’RE HOME!!! Updates to come next week. Please pray the trip runs smoothly. For some time we’re going to seperate, and our cell phone doesn’t work in India. BUT – I cannot in good consious leave Darjeeling without hiking in the mountains! see you soon!

sunny thoughts

Boo’s Bit:

My Gosh!  Our teaching is completely done!  Neither one of us can truly believe it – the goal of our entire adventure is finished (and hopefully accomplished well).  Saying goodbye to these sisters was especially heart-wrenching because we were biding adieu to both our dear friends/sisters and our teaching experiences.  Trying as they were, teaching was a challenge to rise to every day.  It’s a bit sad to be done, but incredibly relieving at the same time. 

            Oh!  My excitement for the upcoming Darjeeling trip is everyday increasing!  I’ve been memorizing some maps given to me by a brother, and deciding which hikes we can all attach to together.  We have five days of Heaven – shopping for tea and hiking in the beautiful mountains.  For certain I will be able to view Kanchenjanga, oh what a thought!   I can’t wait to put the pictures up, or better yet, to show you all, as I’ll be home in less then three weeks!  My dreams are filled with homecoming thoughts – still.

            One of the hardest aspects of my time here has been the lack of physical work.  How ironic, since the Bangladeshi people are the hardest physical laborers I’ve ever seen.  But, I am a teacher, and most of the time an honored guest – my time is spent planning and being fed.  Two wonderful activities, to be sure (the Bangladeshi home-made food is delectable).  But, yesterday I visited the seminarians during work time, and asked for some chores.  Jerome told me to rake raw wheat off the concrete (with wooden blocks) where is was drying in the sun, and then to cut grass (with a macheteJ).  How wonderful to work (never thought I’d say that in Bangladesh)!  After only working for 2 minutes I had already surpassed the delicate “glistening” stage for ladies.  No wonder they don’t let us work – I sweat just existing here, add work on top of that and I practically dissolve!  I didn’t realize I could sweat so much and still retain water in my body.  It’s incredibly hot here.  I’ve been running at night, around 9 or 10, and its still about 85 and humid.  Weather NOT conducive for exercise!  These people have incredible endurance and perseverance. 

            More to come later.  We have more time to write updates now, so before leaving on Tuesday we’ll be back.  Alicia’s post is coming – I snuck to the computer during her nap in a hurry to connect with you all!  We leave on Tuesday, but Sunday and Monday are busy because it’s Bengali New Year – this year we celebrate twice!  Keep checking for Alicia’s stories – coming soon to a blog near you! Chao!

 

Quotes:

Jibon – “you tired me tired”

            “you sick me sick”

            “you happy me happy”

 

Final weeks

Boo’s Bit

            Oh, so long it has been since I wrote anything.  The days are so short now.  It’s funny to look back and remember how long the days were in February.  In fact, I think I must’ve spent at least 2 hours everyday writing letters to people at home.  Now I’m having trouble even sitting down to update my own blog!  I know my days left are few, so every spare minute I like to be out and about, checking in on friends, making new friends, and casually watching the oh-so-interesting happenings of Dinajpur, Bangladesh.  This past week I’ve been saying to myself “I’m in Asia!”  Still I feel amazement from those words.

            So, we have begun teaching the main course of our English Workshops, a two week conference for sister’s of the northern Bangladesh region.  Bishop wants to improve their English skills in the event that some may study abroad.  We are back to the very long schedule of 8:30 to 4:00, with a two hour lunch break.  Though teaching is exhausting, the sisters are so dear to me – I love them!  Usually in the mornings we share many good laughs and jokes together (by the afternoon we’re all too tired to joke successfully, especially with the Bangla-to-English translation difficulties).  There are 22 sisters ranging from 22 years to…well, much older.

            Travel!  A week or so ago we took our second trip to southern Bangladesh: Khulna, Mongla Port, Dhaka, and Bonpara.  Over 4 days we traveled to 4 cities, so of course the “vacation” was wonderful but exhausting.  The first two nights were spent on the trains – consequently, not too much rest.  The trains are much nicer than the buses.  Dirtier, but smoother.  Alicia has written more about those exciting times.

            The people of Dinajpur still continue to be impressed with our appearance.  Goodness, we have been at home here for over 3 months now, but still we are exciting.  Just yesterday, while coming back from class at Mata Shagor, a man noticed I was flagging down a rickshaw.  He instantly came over and enthusiastically began speaking loud Banglish – in my face.  Knowing he was being kind I let him talk to the rickshaw wallah for me, and he even gave a price estimate. 😛 I could confirm whatever was going on later, while we were riding.  So, we get in, and start moving.  The man runs up behind our rickshaw and gets in position to jump through the back and sit with/on us.  Alicia and I both react “ NNOOOO!” I hope he didn’t find us rude, but he cannot share our rickshaw!  We then drive away and listen to him apologize profusely.  “Still friends?” he asks over and over.  Sometimes the hearts of these lovely people are too big.  J

    Sorry so short this week, I neglected my blogging duties.  Also, we’re in the process of shrinking more pictures, so soon they will be up.  We’re working hard to keep track of what photos we’ve shared, and what is still waiting! 

   “Afterthought”  Now that my time is actually dwindling, I think about you all at home everyday.  I’m too often consumed with daydreaming about my return to you! 

 

Ali’s bit-

            Finally another update, after 2 weeks. Sorry for the time that has been lapsing between our writings. Time is passing too quickly, and the reality of our dwindling time here is beginning to become very real.  We have been very busy traveling and teaching, as Boo mentioned, so keeping track of life in my journal has even been difficult. I’ve been dealing also with drama here. Of all places! I never thought I’d have interpersonal relation issues during a short 4 months stay in a foreign country, but things happen that aren’t always under your control. So, to say the least, my mind and heart have been drenched in thought and trouble. I am not looking forward to the next month because it is our last, not because I don’t want to be here anymore. Please pray for a smooth and painless departure. 

            Easter evening we left for Khulna by very dirty train. In Khulna (Mongla Port) we stayed with the Shantirani sisters for the day. They fed us breakfast, gave us a room to stay in and came with us to Sundarban.  Sundarban is the largest national reserve in Bangladesh. It is mostly mangrove forests, mud and water. It is home of the Bengal tiger- which unfortunately, we did not see L. We did see some monkeys- but they were in a cage and they were hungry. Boo got too close to the cage and one angry monkey slapped her with his little monkey hand! HAHA! She jumped quite a ways off the ground. Very funny.  There were also caged spotted dear and alligators… but sadly no wild creatures larger than some tiny red crabs and birds.  We were also joined by Ronnie and Jessie, two boys who help out the sister’s community and who were fun, funny and intelligent about all things Khulna!

            That night we slept on the (much nicer) train to Dhaka. We visited Sr. Adlene’s sisters and nieces in the city, as well as her village (and therefore her entire family!).  Her niece, Gloria, speaks fluent Americanized English and is a wonderful and fun girl! Her other niece Heya (he – a) is almost 2 years old and is the cutest little thing ever! Her older sister is a fashion designer (she is making us each our very own salwar kameez!) and her younger sister is a professional dancer! We enjoyed our stay with her family very much! We left Dhaka and traveled home to Dinajpur by bus. 

            One day home, and that evening we left for Bonpara by bus. Worse ride yet. I don’t think the bus can be comfortable- perhaps an impossibility.  Bonpara was beautiful! The name of the town means Jungle Village. It is one of the most beautiful places yet. Many gorgeous trees and the mission there is very pastoral because it was built by the Italian PIME fathers. Some say is looks like a little Rome (inside of a jungle). We saw one of our students, Digonto, and visited his family.  We went home by (the nicest) train, after finding the direct bus was broken and not taking the trip to Dinajpur.   I was happy to get home.

            (P.S. The reason we went to Bonpara was to see an ordination. One man was ordained a Jesuit Priest. The ceremony was very beautiful. His father and grandmother walked with him up the aisle and kissed his forehead and hugged him. His father looked like he did not want to let go. It made my eyes misty because it reminded me a wedding ceremony when the parents give away their daughter. “Giving away” you children to any purpose is very difficult, be it marriage, priesthood, missionary work etc. I enjoyed the ceremony very much and am looking forward to the ordination I’ll be attending in 7 years for my dear friend [Father] Justin.)

            Class began with the sisters on Sunday morning. I like them all very much. Class is going well, and 5/11 classes are “sh – ay –sh” (finished). We have so much left to talk about and so little time! Teaching makes the days go by quickly.  I am ready for the stress of teaching to be over. This job has proven to be very difficult, as I am not trained in teaching English, teaching the age levels we’ve been given, or dealing with people who understand little of what I say.  It’s been hard work- and it will continue to be. Please pray for our last week of class and our last weeks in Bangladesh.

At the end of this course, we’ll have one week in Darjeeling, India and one week in Dinajpur, then we go to Dhaka for 3(ish) days and fly home! SO CLOSE! I am especially looking forward to eating pizza – which I have not eaten in SOOOOO LONG! I was so used to eating it at least once a week, and I’ve been deprived of it for 4 months! But when I return home I will be deprived of the rice, dhal, chapatti and curries I’ve fallen in love with here.  I enjoy the food here very much – and now if my mouth isn’t burning, it’s not spicy enough! (Pete, you should be proud of me!)

Well, this is obviously not everything that has happened in the past 2 weeks, but it’s all I have time for! Soon Sister Adlene will be here to help me put on the cotton sari her fashion designer sister gave me as a gift. Cotton is much harder to wear than the silk ones you’ve seen pictures of, and it’s going to make me look even fatter than I already am. We’ll see how long I wear it! I love you all! Thank you for the letters and thoughts and prayers!

 

 

Quote:

“I mess you”

sorry again

We’ve been very busy, we’re so sorry!!!! We will try to get an update out by Friday or Saturday. Keep checking. We love you all!

-Ali and Boo-

long overdue :)

Hello again! After a long couple weeks, we’re finally getting around to writing an update. Sorry it’s later than usual.

 

Ali’s Bit:

Last week I taught the other half of the seminarians. I only had 1 week since most of them are going home for Holy Week.  It was such a pleasure teaching them! They were very funny – I’ve featured some of their jokes at the end with the quotes.  I had a really great time with them. After class on a couple of the days, I stayed and worked with them. One day I weeded the vegetable garden with Digonto and the second day I cut grass with Dipto, Tarsus and Benedict.  I also watched them milk cows, cut fruit, make chicken feed, wash the pigs etc.  I took a lot of pictures of them, they are all my loves!

I returned to Pargao with Dipto last Friday for the last Way of The Cross before Easter. It was very nice. The children are so adorable. I have a great picture of them all with their tongues out! How silly! They invited me to return, and I will do so. Because Lent is over, Dipto and Rintoo begin teaching the children different subjects, which will be fun! Maybe I’ll get to teach them some English.

            This week I taught grade 6 girls from Little Flower Boarding for 1 hour Monday – Thursday. I’ve been spoiled. I only went to class with Boo and her 5th graders twice. I understand her agony and frustration – they were “doo-sh-doe” (naughty).  I did my best to keep two particularly evil boys under the control of my firm hand J.

            Boo and I have been to the market alone twice. She is much better with Bangla and does all the bargaining and talking with strangers. I’ve only bought two things while out on our own- one gift and a bottle of orange nail polish. It says on it “Made as USA” which makes me question if it was actually made in the USA or some Bangladeshi’s poor English grammar made it onto millions of bottles of nail polish! Does it being made in the USA make it better? JN! (“jani na” – in English I don’t know : IDK).  Painting my toenails orange made my day just that much brighter. My feet are always filthy.

            The Bishop’s House is being deconstructed. Everyday there are many many workers here and there and everywhere. The manual labor force employs many Bangladeshis! So life here has become very noisy. They have built a brick wall between the new part (which is where we live) and the old part of the building. The old part will be demolished completely by brute force. A new 125 foot deep well has been installed and people are busy doing countless numbers of tasks. It is a hive of activity all the time!

            My goodness so much has happened in two weeks! I can’t even think about everything. I’m glad I’m keeping a journal everyday. Things get lost in my brain and it’s hard to find them. It’s also good that I’m taking tons of pictures.  I’m falling in love with everything and everyone here. It is going to be so difficult for me to leave this place not knowing if I’ll ever be able to return. Please pray for us as our time is beginning to dwindle!!! I’m feeling the pressure of the countdown, and I know most of you are counting the days with joy – but I am doing so with sorrow.  I hate goodbyes.

            I will try to make a better update next Friday. We’ll do our best to get a post up next week. Sorry for the skipped time. We love you all!

 

Boo’s Bit –

Too much happens everyday; I never know where to begin!  Though my life has much regularity now, it still seems that every experience is so new and interesting that they are all worthy of being recorded!  On my own schedule I have started taking afternoon walks when I have the time.  This is always a grand adventure, even if I don’t make it all the way into town.  People love seeing me walk around enjoying the country, and of course they love to see the pictures I take of them.  Meandering around is the best way to get quality action shots!  When people see that I’m taking pictures, they all request me to take their pictures.  Now I have to be selective in where I take my digital camera. J  The most amusing part of the walks is the rickshaw following.  Once I leave the compound, usually one or two rickshaws follow me for a while, despite my communication to them that “jabo na,” I will not go.  They smile and tilt their head to the side while saying “acha sister,” and following me anyway.  So, as I make my way through town gradually three or four rickshaws peddle ahead of me a few hundred feet, wait for me to pass, and peddle ahead again – hoping in vain that I might take one of them up on their offer.  It’s very funny – I grin at them every time I pass them, since it is just so comical to pass the same rickshaw wallahs over and over again.  Every time I go out in the afternoon I meet some friend and we chat for a little while.  Some friends are more persistent, and insist on buying me something, but I’m beginning to understand which people are truly friends, and which just like to walk next to the American girl. 

The bug bites are fading, but leaving nasty/ugly scares.  Thanks to the abundance of healthcare products from momma, Aunt Kare, and Caitie, I’m slowing conquering the pain that is called “moshabites.”  A couple times a day I faithfully wash my feet and apply numerous ointments – how lovely.  I shall have the cleanest feet in all Bangladesh (really not true at all)!

Teaching has been the ultimate challenge.  I thought getting back into the classroom with young students would be a wonderful break for me, but actually I’m ready to tear my hair out. Especially my younger students are giving me a run for my money.  I have never worked with such a large number a students (about 50 now), and on top of the number there is the ever-so-obvious language barrier.  Class five doesn’t understand me, and they come to class after their day is over, so the last thing they want to do is sit more!  I am being greatly challenged.  The other class, class 7 girls, isn’t quite as challenging, and is far more enjoyable.  However, I started out with 62 girls and each day the number decreases.  They are studying for tests and exams before Easter, and of course an additional English class doesn’t take priority.  What an experience to teach in a Bangladeshi school; I would not trade it for anything.  Incredibly challenging, and perhaps frustrating, yes – but also an experience of a lifetime.  Never again will I have over 50 students in a small classroom in Asia!

This week we begin more travels to southern Bangladesh with my dear friend Sister Adline.  We will visit Khulna for three days before returning to Dinajpur and immediately beginning our last English workshop – a two week course for sisters preparing to study abroad.  Khulna is home to the largest mangrove forest, so I’m sure we’ll come back with many more incredible pictures!  I’m thinking of you all, especially as my time here is coming to an end, and can’t wait to share some of these wonderful experiences with you! 

           

Quotes:

text message – “Dearest boo, I am at home.  this is my cell number.  I am digonto.”

 

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We met a man named Robbie. We introduced ourselves as Alicia and Brenna. He asked Alicia “Is her name Irish?”, and thinking he was referring to the origin of Boo’s name she answered “Yes it is!”. Now every time Robbie sees Boo he says “Hello Irish!”

 

Seminarians:

Partner Interviews- one of the questions was “What color is your toothbrush?” to which the answer should be “His toothbrush is white/red/yellow/blue/etc.” While presenting their partner’s answers these were some of their remarks.

“His toothbrush is broken.”  “He has no toothbrush, he uses ash.”  “His toothbrush is a tree branch.”  

 

Ali: “::cackle::” (that really loud awful laugh)

Rickshaw wallah behind us: “Shut up!” (in very bad Bangla accent)

Boo: “Did that rickshaw wallah just tell us to shut up?”

A: “Yes, I think he did.”

B: “You know you’re having a bad night in Bangladesh when you’re rickshaw wallah tells you to shut up!”

apology

sorry no update last week. keep checking- we will get to it… promise 🙂

p.s. the picture website is having issues, so our latest pictures aren’t up. Please be patient – there are many!!! 🙂