Great volunteers

As predicted, the volunteers are all great people. This year’s On Site Administrator, Katie, has a good handle on her complex, multifaceted role and there is a very positive spirit amongst the volunteers. Along with the four “Australians” (two of whom were originally South African), there is currently one volunteer from France, one from Colombia, and five from the USA. Two of the five Americans are from Indian family backgrounds and one has Taiwanese roots. SB kids are exposed to such a rich mix of cultures.


Eduardo captivates the budding robotics engineers

In addition this year, we were privileged to overlap with volunteer Eduardo from Catalan for the first time. This university robotics researcher has been coming to SB since 2005! He enthralls the kids with his motorised Lego constructions. The photos show some construction fun, and a robot taking a message on a string from one side of the classroom area to the other.


An exciting moment as the robot actually crosses to the other side

The younger children made tiny robots from toothbrush heads that scurried around like beetles. The day Eduardo left he treated the whole school family to ice cream. That’s approximately 300 serves, when you include children, teachers, volunteers, aunties, security guards, admin and grounds staff). As the school does not have a freezer, this is quite a logistical exercise.

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Eduardo’s treat: Ice cream with chocolate sauce

Building Culture: Virtues and School Prayer

The children gave us a warm welcome, which is always energising after a long flight. They are terrific kids. Lots of old faces and a new ‘batch’ of 24 four-year-olds to read stories to in the evening. Each week they focus on a different virtue, which is fostered by a daily reading. We presented laminated copies of the 52 virtues to serve as a visual reminder for the week and the poster has been mounted in the assembly hall. We noticed, also, that there is now a Valedictorian board. This reminds us that six ‘batches’ of students are now either at university or have completed studies and are already working. When we first arrived in 2010 we had the pleasure of getting to know the first ever batch to graduate from the school.


Karthikeyan  reads the virtue of the week

Virtues are also reinforced when Dr George, the founder, is in residence. He holds a weekly interactive ‘fireside chat’ with the students from 8th Grade up. His first chat was about the difference between feeling/expressing compassion about people in need, and actually doing something about what you see. It was powerful. This week he raised the issue of attitudes towards LGBT people. He is not afraid to confront difficult topics and the students contributed maturely, appropriately and thoughtfully.

Finally, the tone is set each day when the teachers and volunteers recite the following prayer at the beginning of assembly. The school is non-denominational with a range of Hindu, Christian and Muslim kids, and children who follow no religion. it’s hard to argue with the sentiments expressed and I like the idea of respecting the divine in each other. As we say ‘Namaste’, we press our palms together and acknowledge our colleagues.

Shanti Bhavan School Prayer

God, Creator of the Universe, help us remember that you are present in each one of us.

May we respect each other and be tolerant of our differences. 

May we be good and caring towards each other.

May the teachings of all the great world religions direct our thoughts and actions.

Grant that we may be spiritual in our interactions and zealous in our work and play.

Help us discover different ways to serve our fellow humanity. 

Guide us to discover the treasure hidden in each one of us, and to uphold what is right, cherish what is beautiful and revere what is divine. 

As we journey through each day of our lives, give us the grace to accept whatever you have in store for us. Be with us in our joy and our sorrow. 

Help us build Shanti Bhavan into a haven of peace and let this peace touch the lives of all we meet. 

We salute the divine in each other. Namaste!


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The wildlife continues to amaze and amuse us. So far this year we have seen: a duck eating (or was it just playing with) the head of a snake in the school duck pond; a mongoose; a bat feeding its young in the assembly hall; squirrels; and our friendly, chirping house geckoes.

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The ducks now produce 30 or 40 eggs a day. The school still has to buy 900 eggs a week.

Oh yes, and I was ambushed by a frog in the bowl of our toilet, on my first night, AGAIN! I don’t know which of us was more surprised. He hopped around and by the time I got the camera he was sitting on top. Was it the same frog that startled me seven years ago, I wonder?

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It was a while before I would go into the bathroom again without a torch!


Next time: the art of key cutting, computing, a special lunch with Dr George and more!