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Since 2014 a number of mosaics have been created on our premises. At the moment the biggest one with a size of nearly 144 square meters is done in the amphi theatre. When I look back – today is the 30th December 2017 – to the last years I feel that the mosaics have a big meaning for us as symbols of unity.
Mosaic in front of administration building
The first mosaic was done on the floor of the former construction building which nowadays is the office of Shanti Ananda Organic Health Products Pvt. Limited. In 2015 a fountain - including a big flower in the center - was built in the inner space of the administration building; it was decorated with a mosaic. The first tree on the area, a neem tree, has been framed with a bench and decorated with mosaics as well. Stairs (guiding to the south part of the area) and entrance of the administration building have been covered with mosaics as well. At the moment our last mosaic in the amphi theatre is 75 % complete.
Mosaic Amphi theatre on December 2nd
Mosaics appear to me as symbols of unity because many different tile pieces are forming a unit; in spite of their diversity they seem as a whole. The tile pieces which are regarded as waste or garbage are used in a meaningful way to create something beautiful. Mosaics are fascinating because the eye can always find something interesting, extraordinary and stunning. Not one piece of tile is exactly like the other ones, all are singular – because of this mosaics are symbols for individualism and unity at the same time. Everyone on the area can participate temporarily in the creation of a mosaic; students and staff people as well as guests and laborers are cooperating on the same level with the purpose to create beauty. New contacts and new networks will generate like this. Everybody once participated in the creation of a mosaic feels integrated into this bigger purpose. Every time when I see the mosaics my heart is beating faster for joy because the mosaics represent to me the beauty we can achieve together, caused by the integration of design / structure and the different pieces of tiles.
Mosaic Fountain in the centre of the administration building
I am deeply convinced that the creation of mosaics is most meaningful for children. They can feel like a piece of tile integrated into the mosaic of the institution. Every child can be as it is and, with its being, makes a meaningful part of a larger whole. As well they experience that it is possible to integrate many different things into a bigger whole. Especially nowadays – in an increasingly chaotic world – this aspect is very important and encouraging.
Bench around the first tree on the area
Mosaic on the veranda of the Construction/LTD Office
The water reservoir of Mudigubba in October 2017 - filled to the edge
The Anantapur District is known as a "dry area" after increasing drought in recent years could no longer classify it as a "drought area". When we bought the school area in 2010 for a relatively cheap price (1 Euro per square meter _ 9.5 acres for 30,000 Euro), it was a short time later moderately flooded. In average every seven years flooding might happen, we were told. Our buildings were constructed in such a way that they could not be flooded even during floods.
In 2017, however, we have only reached the real maximum - much higher than in 2010. The highest water level is actually just 2 cm below the ground level of the classrooms for grades 4, 5 and 6 - the lowest situated classrooms of the area.
The lower situated houses: class rooms 4, 5, 6 and guest house
We are now wondering what to do next. The guesthouse is accessible only by walking through water (about 30 cm high); until the water drains again, two months will pass for sure. Can we expect our visitors to wade through the water?
When we purchased the land - from private - it was not classified as government land (so-called DC land [Deputy Collector]). It was intended and used for agricultural purposes. However, it would normally have to be declared as a protected area on a territory as a government country. But this has not been the case; and in our case it means that we have to bear the risk of flooding. Now there is certainly no danger to life and limb; but the situation is not pleasant at the moment. Above all, the guest house - which is mainly used for visitors and for special events (teacher training, music events…) is affected.
It was a shock for us, when in the second October week after violent rainfalls the water level suddenly rose very quickly. We were really afraid that some classrooms would be flooded ... Thanks to God it did not happen, as the course of the Mudigubba water tank has a level that is below our affected classrooms. The school classes who were concerned were temporarily were taught in the administration building - thankfully we have this possibility.
But how to go on now? Nobody knows how the weather will develop in the future ... Our beautiful garden facilities at the guesthouse are spoilt; and is it worth to reapply them – as we do not know when a flood is to be expected again? For us, it is a difficult and frustrating situation - although on the other hand we are glad and relieved that we have escaped the hairline of a greater malaise. Nevertheless, the mood is currently somewhat dampened.
Here are some photos and videos:
The view in 2010 to the school grounds shows water, but it is much lower than currently.
View to classrooms 4 and 3
Headmaster Raja Sekhar in front of the guest house
Caring lady Suguna with our horses Tara and Herbie on the area, in the background the lake
This photo shows the main road in Puttaparthi, 40 km from Mudigubba, after heavy rainfall. The water flowed into the river Chithravathi, which had no water for 8 years
The Chithravathi river in Puttaparthi on 11th October
The Yogivemana dam in Mudigubba - full to the edge
The water buffaloes are the happiest animals right now
Three videos about the Project Week 2012 (in German language, but easily understandable and very enjoyable because of the beautiful music by Prema & EOL) are online on YouTube; this happened very recently because we forgot them in 2012… Afterwards the idea came to me to write some words about project weeks at our school.
We started in the Academic year 2008/09 with the very first project week. Why did we do this? The first and most important reason is that we are developing pedagogy for head, heart and hands which is very different from the traditional teaching style. Furthermore it is hard to keep the students concentrated onto a major task requiring unlimited time conditions within the rigid structure of the normal time table in the everyday life. It is well known that students – when they are playing – forget time and go deeply into this activity. Professor Gerald Huether, a German scientist researching about brain functioning and optimal learning conditions, emphasizes that enthusiasm is manure for the brain: students will learn best when they are full of enthusiasm because many neural connections in their brains will be created in this setting only. Vice versa true learning will be prevented if there is no enthusiasm. Boring and fearful learning settings will lead to bad results. So it is the question how to create learning settings triggering enthusiasm and motivation. The well-known conditions for creativity are joy and a fearless atmosphere. Out of these considerations it is logical to create a special setting for children enabling them to go deeper into activity – without a rigid time limitation. That was the very reason to introduce project weeks in our pedagogy.
Our first project week was primarily a project week for the teachers who – as local teachers from Mudigubba – did not know this setting. They painted the class rooms in cooperation with the students; another group created models for our acclaimed Nature Concept School which was a dream at that time. The younger students formed a variety of clay items. We took five days’ time for this work. Teachers and students were facing unusual and unknown situations, but they mastered them in a great way with creativity and courage. The teachers’ feedback for this first project week was very enthusiastic, affirmative and positive. The evaluation showed that all the participants of this experiment were very fond of it: nobody had thought that we would achieve such beautiful results within a very short time period. Teachers and students became more self-conscious through this pedagogical experience, which was encouraging for all of us to continue. Since then we are running one project week in every Academic Year; and we are going to conduct two starting in the Academic Year 2017/18.
Within the years after 2009 we conducted Project weeks with a variety of topics, most of them nature related as a main focus of our pedagogy is the well-being of Mother Earth. Here are the topics:
All our project weeks have a similar structure. Meanwhile students of all classes are cooperating in age mixed groups which is very much enjoyed by them; the direct contact between elder and younger students is inspiring and motivating. Teachers and other employees are leading the groups, each led by two members. The groups receive names and special tasks (for example taking photos, building models, creating and singing songs and other activities). Two days will be reserved for practical activities. On one day a rally through Mudigubba will take place to aware the public people for our topic. On the last day of every project week an exhibition will be arranged. Our recent exhibitions have been visited by thousands of visitors. Afterwards an evaluation will be done by students and teachers, very important to reflect the results.
Apart from the project weeks, we organize one project day every month (Nature Day). As well we changed the structure of our daily life to enable the students to cope with other topics than the so called normal subjects. Only one teacher will stay the whole morning in the class, he/she will teach the normal topics (English, Hindi, Telugu, Mathematics, Science) for a double period; other activities like creativity, painting, handworks, Computer work, sports, Karate, gardening, dancing, music and drama as well as meditation, Yoga and Bhajana singing) are handled in the second double period. This time structure aims to provide a project-friendly teaching style, even in normal everyday life.
On 8th March 2017 a rain ceremony was arranged in the Medicine wheel (located between Guest house and LKG class room). As the temperatures are crossing 40 degrees and the drought is increasing we felt that it might be useful to celebrate once again a rain ritual inspired by Red Indian culture. Within the last few years we had several rain ceremonies and several times rain coming afterwards. So we hoped this time it would also happen…
All the students, teachers and staff members gathered around the Medicine wheel. Our musician Horst Wagner explained that for the Red Indian people special Gods were responsible for rain. After reciting of the Gayatri mantram 9 times we sang three songs (“We are opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous love light of the One…”, “Mother I feel you under my feet…”, “Goate leno leno maote…”). There was a high energy on the area created by singing, clapping the hands and marching around the circle. At the end of the ceremony a big cloud was visible on top of our heads...
After the ritual we planted three holy trees on the premises. More than 3000 trees have been planted within the last seven years. It is a challenge to water all of them regularly... As our bore wells do not deliver sufficient water we have to fetch water from a nearby bore well rented to us. Every day three to four tractor loads are needed... But we are acting as the German reformer Martin Luther (1483 – 1546, professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation) recommended: "If tomorrow the world would collapse today you should still plant a tree...." We believe that the only option to improve climate for India and the whole world is to plant more trees. By the way: the rain took 6 days to come down after our rain ceremony…. But as soon as I started to write this blog it started raining (first time since three weeks) !!!!