Hello World! After a few days of being disconnected, we have internet! To catch you up on the past few days, we’ve spent 21 hours on airplanes, 2 hours running through airports, and another hour tracking down a bag that got left behind in London. We left the Bangaluru airport at about 6 am and Ms. Muktha was kindly waiting for us and had arranged for a small van to take us from the airport to our house. We then had the rest of Sunday to get acquainted with the area and unpack a bit. We took a bus to a neighboring town to visit SL’s family and explored her town a little. The bus was an experience, and we would have been lost without SL, her knowledge of the bus routes, and her ability to speak Kannada 🙂
Today was our first day at the Mathru School for the Blind. Ms. Muktha has shown us the school, and took us offsite to the newer school for children with multiple disabilities. One thing that stuck me immediately was how incredibly colorful everything is here. From where I am sitting I can see turquoise, red, and yellow walls and orange flowers. The walls are lined with pictures and quotes, and the sounds of the students echo through the school. My general impression that everything is more colorful in India–from the trucks to the houses to the clothes–but the Mathru school is especially so.
The students come to the school at various ages, so they are primarily grouped by ability. The newest students to the school spend a lot of time learning basic things, such as how to button a shirt and brush their hair, as many of them are not taught to be independent at home. The classroom for the new students has shirts in frames (among other things) that the students can practice with, which I thought was very clever. The students are first introduced to the concept of braille with a large wooden slate with six divots in which the students can place marbles. Once the students have been at the school for a little longer they learn to write Braille with a stylus and slate, and the ones who struggle use the Braille Writing tutor (which the tech team will be enhancing this summer). The students are taught the Karnataka standard curriculum with many of the texts translated into Braille, and they take the state exams for their standards. In the coming weeks we look forward to getting to know the students and the teachers better and getting to work on our projects. More later soon!