On the first day the students were given a photo assignment. Each student was to go around campus with their team, sharing the camera, and take photos and then choose their top five. Some teams did this together and some split the time up so they could go off alone, the bottom line was that no matter how they did it, they had to have the top five per person chosen and on the external hard drive by 12:30 p.m. This did not happen.
Per instruction to my teams I told them to come to the room by 12:15 to choose their photos and submit them. Zero out of the eight students showed. I called at 12:20 to each team and they said they were all on their way. Five minutes later part of a team approaches and they say they don’t know where one of their teammates is; she never came to get the camera. I tell them, don’t worry about her, and choose each of your five photos because you are all late. This scares them and each team dashes to their designated computers.
More teams come in and the room became a jumbled mess of voices and worried faces. Deadline was thirty minutes ago and only three out of six teams had finished. One of my teams, The Clocks, was done and off to the classroom upstairs, the other team, Susan’s Army (named after a popular St. Xavier’s faculty member) was one person shy of completion. Then all H-E-Double hockey sticks broke out and Carole said, “Out!” The remaining teams had to take what they had and bring it up to the classroom for critiques and grading. The lone member of Susan’s Army had chosen her five photos just in time after coming in at 1:00.
Time is not a concern in the Indian culture or for the students, but slowly and surely they are learning that being punctual is a form of a first impression and when you’re late it sheds bad light on you. The remaining video interview exercises have all been completed and shown on time, a sign of progress. We hope this keeps up.
Besides us American’s teaching the importance of time, the Indian students are teaching us the importance of simplicity and relaxation. Each day after classes they ask us if we want to go out for coffee or simply hang out for the evening until we have to be back for dinner. In the back of my head I’m thinking, No, no Andrea you can’t. You have internship applications, you have e-mails to send, blogs to write, yoga to do and time to yourself to keep up on. And then Arpita, a student says, “Come on, let’s go and have fun!” and all I can say in return is, “When in India!”
Everyday after classes the students hangout with each other at local hotspots like the Zen Café or little shops. They say it’s important to relax and have fun, not to always be on the go. Ummm…. Where were these intellectual people my whole life? The worry-wart I am finally said, forget the list of things you have to do. You know you will get them done, just enjoy the moments you have with the friends around you. Indians think simple. When you think simply you relieve your life of complexity and stress. The students here are always smiling and having fun. They play wall ball and strum on their guitars. They have classes outside where their professors sit on a lawn chair and go through their daily lesson. Why is college not like this in the U.S. is what I think half the time. I would be much less stressed but receive a great education at the same time. I am definitely taking the lessons on free time with friends and living simply and applying them to my personal and professional life. You can’t live life being a stressed, anal person. You have to live freely and happily, but also be on time….
More lessons to come, I can guarantee it.