Day Four: Expressing Ourselves

This morning, the rains finally cleared, and the colors of Jharkhand emerged brighter and fresher than ever before. Every dewy flower felt like art, and every washed-out road seemed to tell a story. I think it's all of the rain-drenched colors that inspired all of us to express ourselves today. Or maybe that's just me.



9:00 a.m. Language Study, Part 3


Today was the last day of the vocabulary study I implemented with the eighth grade class of Sindhu Kanhu Shiksha Niketan. We wrapped things up with a special essay--each student had to write a newspaper editorial, explaining one value that they wanted Jharkhand to adopt.


Their responses were, as usual, utterly grounding.


One boy wrote about the need for toilets in every home. Another wrote about the power of protecting girls. A young woman wrote about protecting the environment. The passion with which they delivered their arguments reminded me that across the world, youth are the most powerful members of society. It's wise of adults to start listening to us.


We only finished half of the mural today--it's still a work in progress. But I feel confident that by the time I leave Jharkhand, we will have created something beautiful. It's something that we'll remember for a long time.

As a small parting gift, I gave each student a pen so that they could carry their powerful words with them forever.


Wherever the kids end up, I hope they'll continue writing. And I hope that they will change the world.



The entire 8th grade class, who I am so fortunate to have gotten the chance to teach (and learn from!)

11:00 a.m. The Littlest Butterflies


The tiny nursery students were beyond ecstatic when I showed up in their classroom with a bulging bag of crayons. They fluttered around excitedly and climbed all over the desks to get their colors in order. It was time for an art lesson.

Based on popular demand, I decided to teach them how to draw their favorite creature: the butterfly.




Sangita and her best friend don't know how old they are (I think they're 4) but they absolutely adore taking selfies.


2:00 p.m. Artists Unleashed


In the afternoon, I hunted around for a ruler and a handful of crayons. Then I did something I haven't done since I was three--I drew on the walls.


I believe that when you create art, you create something that has a soul. It has a little bit of you in it. And I wanted the mural to celebrate so many things: the vibrant spirit of Jharkhand. The resilience of the students. The cross-cultural friendship I'd forged with the kids.


So rather than create the mural alone, I asked local residents--especially kids--to join me. Together, we gathered up paints and decided on two special scenes.



For the first scene, we imitated the folk-art style of Jharkhand, complete with exaggerated eyes and long, twisted torsos. It depicts the traditional madhal dance which many of the local children perform.



The second scene depicts a fierce little girl from Jharkhand, looking out upon the land that she will one day inherit. This girl is empowered, like the women I interviewed at the tailoring center, and she knows what she values, just like the students I worked with. I drew this one in the style of Starry Night because I believe that these kids, like the sky, are limitless.



All of us painted together, reaching over arms and standing on our tip-toes to cover every spot!

Painting was hard work--the sun was hot and mosquitoes were everywhere, but the young artists didn't want to stop. A crowd of local kids watched us for hours, clapping and cheering us on. To my gratitude, a few of them even ran to the market and bought glue for us to mix with the paint, making it water-proof. While most artists prefer to work alone, I learned that it takes a village in order to make anything meaningful!



The kids used their creativity to transform the crayon sketch into a riot of color.


I wouldn't have picked anyone else to get covered in paint with!

We only finished half of the mural today--it's still a work in progress. But I feel confident that by the time I leave Jharkhand, we will have created something beautiful. It's something that we'll remember for a long time.

© 2023 by MALAVIKA KANNAN.

malavikawrites@gmail.com