***Read below or be surprised ;)***
Hi! I am Lana, the “young mother” that accompanied! 😉 It’s funny actually, because all of the children asked, “are you Dr. G’s daughter?” I had to giggle and think to myself, “do I look like Dr. G’s daughter?” I forget how young I appear to children that are getting larger and larger at younger and younger ages…Yes! I am the same height as you! ha!
My intrigue began with a prior post of Dr. G’s…about feeding children-taking them to a classy restaurant. A place they’ve never been-a feeling they haven’t felt-being treated like the divine soul they are-being served. You know the feeling right? I can speak for myself when for certain; I love dining at restaurants with dapper waitstaff and lovely decor-I’m sure I need not continue. You know, you know just how it feels!
Thus, when I read about Dr. G’s desire to bring a group of children to dinner-I felt overjoyed! Yes! What a brilliant idea. I’m constantly attempting to conjure up new ways to serve. To practice Seva, selfless service.
Upon speaking with Dr. G, I immediately felt her devotion to do just the same. She is certainly a woman with a strong practice sense of altruism. I felt urged to join her mission. I asked how I could help-hands on-and found myself in East Palo Alto’s elementary school.
The idea of being present for a lesson in Physics, of course, caught my attention as well. 🙂 I love working with Children; co-teaching Yoga to at-risk youth in New Jersey was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life thus far. Why? Everything is moving at the speed of light! Children seem to progress one thousand times faster than so many adults that I’ve worked with-teaching Yoga/Dance and so forth. I remember entered to teach the first class at the High School in New Jersey-one girl-was the most resistant person I’ve ever instructed in a class before. Two weeks later, she was the most dedicated student in the whole group of 30 high school girls and boys!
Needless to say, working with 3rd and 4th graders in East Palo Alto is nothing short of amazing.
I picked up a bag of eco-friendly supplies for dining and met Dr. G at one of the many Thai restaurants in Mountain View-and was beginning to vibrate with excitement as she brought out the massive serving of Pad Thai for the children. In all honesty…what better to feed kids?! YUM! When we dished out about 20 plates or so-and the kids flooded in, their eyes were wide and their faces lit up, as if to ask, “really?” A few kids attempted to search for familiarity, “it’s chow mein! yea! I know what that is-it’s those chow mein noodles!” Then the questions came…”what’s Thailand? Is that corn? Did you make this? Do I have to eat this? Can I HAVE MORE?!” I asked a group of girls, “do you know where Thailand is?” None seemed to know and they adamantly pointed me to a globe. The five girls were eager to learn the origin of their interesting dish. I showed them Thailand, and of course, East Palo Alto and drew a line…they were utterly amazed. Interesting concept-I guess I didn’t think of it much either when I was young. Oh how important it is! The two young girls I sat with giggled and whispered to each other in Spanish as I quizzed them on culture and sustainability. I told them about the eco-plates and forks. Their eyes lit up, once again and they understood the concept as they took a harder look at the earthy colored table setting.
When the lesson began…and the group made it to the dingy floor, a “teacher” that seemed to be on…well, let’s just say he didn’t seem like he loved children. He came in and boasted, “YOU! CAN! COME! and sit in the PRINCIPALS office WITH ME! IF! you can’t behave.” You know, or something like that. The kids didn’t seem to like that and they sunk down…I tried to pick up the energy by telling them to “massage the top and bottom lip together.” This usually gets even my adult students grinning and wondering. Dr. G asked, “hmmm! what does that do?” “They are quiet!” No one seemed to protest. 🙂
When Dr. G dove into her lesson, the children seemed engaged and inquisitive, and of course, some seemed relatively confused. In all honesty, I don’t believe the confusion had much to do with the lesson and more to do with the event in it’s entirety. You know…who was I? Who was she? Why were we there? Dr. G began by telling them how special they were and how honored she was to be there. I really saw a shirt at that point. How often were they spoken to that way? Not enough apparently! At the end when the children put their thoughts on to paper with color-many clearly stated that their parents would not be enthused to receive their artwork. Heartbreaking, but quite evident by the responses we were getting.
At one point when the children had a bit of momentum going and blood pumping after tossing balls to one another-yet another leap forward. Comfort! The girls crowed around me when we were asked to sit back down in a circle. Dr. G had to instruct the girls to move away and into a proper circular formation as opposed to clumped on top of each other next to me. I suppose their curiosity heightened as well. The girl that had a burning desire to be called upon and answer every single question…put her arm on my shoulder, “I’m the same size as you.” Yes, yes, back to the fact that I could in fact be mistaken as a fourth grader. I guess this gives me an advantage while working with children. More to identify with. Here, I just want to reveal that in less than an hour’s time, the children grew incredibly comfortable with both Dr. G and I. They expressed their sorrow in her departure and asked for another visit. A few girls gave me unsuspecting hip hugs from the side while darting around the room to return their crayons and almost all embraced Dr. G on their way out with the utmost gratitude. In such a short time, there were so many moments to share! The experience was beautiful and I believe the Divine was leading every moment-and Dr. G is most certainly leading her life with ultimate love in compassion that mad it possible. I look forward to many more! Thank you for this experience!
Dr. G’s post:
Friday, February 3, 2012
This is fulfillmentI reached school with Lana (a young mom from my kids school) to a public school, in East Palo Alto; a school for needy kids whose parents are works 2 or more shifts to make ends meet.It took us almost 20 minutes to set up the tables with plates full of pad Thai noodles, forks, napkins and a cup of water in the library. We invited those 22 4th/5th graders inside around tables of 4. They were surprised by the treat as well as the dish they had never seen or heard about. I was surprised with their reactions. Other than a girl in yellow jacket and one boy, everyone tried it gingerly, loved it and asked for second helpings.
After that, I sat with my plate on a table with 2 girls and a boy. Lana sat on another table with 3 girls. Everybody was giggling, talking and eating. I closed my eyes to pray, before eating.
The boy asked me, “Do you always pray before eating?”
“Yes”, I answered smilingly to the shocked boy.
I was asking them what kind of they like and they were answering shyly.
“Where do you live?”, the boy asked me very inquisitively.
I had my mouth full of noodles, so I signaled with my hands to wait for my answer till I finish chewing.
One of the girls explained what I meant to him and they continued to talk.
When I was done, I looked at him to answer.
“Why can’t you talk with your mouth full?”, he asked me skipping his previous question.
I just looked at him, for all through those 5 minutes he was looking at me as if I am from another planet; doing things he had never seen or heard about.
We got onto the floor in a big circle holding hands. I introduced my self and kicked off the Physics workshop about gravity and gravitational force. When I asked them if anyone has heard about it, only 1 girl and 2 boys shot up their hands.
When I asked them, if they would like to explore science with balls, weighing themselves and tissue roll; all but the boy who did not try screamed yes. So, he decided not to participate and leave the room.
We talked about knowing air is in the room and how can we feel it. Some of them answered through the sound of the fan, by moving hands and feeling it in their hair. We blew the air out of our mouths and then blew out the air onto the tissue paper in front of our face. Everyone raised their hands to see the impact of air and nodding that they all experienced it.
Next, we dropped two books one small/light and another big/heavy from the same height in pairs. They got back excitedly to share their observations about the sound it made, whether they hit the floor together or not etc.
Passing the ball to their partner in all possible ways got them rocking. The screams, the laughter, the excitement filled up the room. They got back together in a circle to share whatever way they shot the ball, it came down following a path like a rainbow, even if it did not hit the ceiling. So, we were all convinced that something invisible is pulling the ball down.
“That invisible force is Gravitational force”, I whispered and they looked at each other amazingly.
The last exercise, I told them to place one book on the weighing machine and note down its weight. Then keep on adding 1, 2, 3 and 4 books and to read its corresponding reading on the scale.
I showed them how the machine showed the change in my weight with 1 palm, 2 palms, 1 knee etc.
I gave them this as a HW assignment to find a weighing machine at home, school, hospital or in grocery stores and play around with it carefully noting down the numbers. The machine gives the weight which will be different from the weight of the same person using the same machine for the gravitational force is different. I kept on iterating in the workshop, that they are are all awesome and wonderful and born scientist. Just keep exploring and just keep asking questions. Their eyes would lit up each time I said those words.
To wrap up, I asked them to draw or write on a sheet of paper what they liked most or understood. They spread out all over the room, lying down scribbling with colors, peeping into each others sheet.
When I announced, its time for me to go.
Surprisingly, the girl in yellow jacket spoke, “No, I don’t want you to go. Why do you have to go?”
“May be I will come back soon again to do more science, how about that, if you like it.”, I said.
They all screamed happily, “Yes.”
When, I asked them to take their colorful sheets home to share it with their parents. I was shocked to see the drop in their faces, the sadness surfaced. And I heard in their turning away from me bodies, “My parents don’t care for me.”, “They will put it in a trash bin.” , “They will be mad, if I show them something.”
Sensing their dejection, I immediately said, “Hey, give me all your colorful drawings, I would love to have them, see them, keep them.”. All but 3 boys, ran forward with joy and gave me their masterpieces.
I stood at the door to say bye to them and give them a button, “I love Physics” with my contact information. Almost all girls hugged me very affectionately, most boys waved bye, shook hands or gave me a hi-five. While hugging them, I felt a familiar love and an extreme closeness.
As they formed the line outside, I blew out kisses to them and most of them blew it back. All, but the boy sitting on my table while eating were smiling with eyes lit up. He was the last one in the line, he left gazing at me as if I were a strange creature.
I drove to pick up my kids, feeling all calm. There was no exhaustion, even though my body was very tired. Physically, I was not dancing to my favorite music while driving, but I was joyful. I was sitting amidst noisy traffic stuck at the red light, getting late to pick up my kids (which usually freaks me out), but I was feeling a strange calmness in each and every cell of my body; similar to what I experience only in deep meditation.
I heard myself say, “This is fulfillment. To love, is the purpose of my life. This is bliss.”
Aum Tat Sat (God is Truth)