Menu Bar

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mid-Semester Update

I haven't blogged since....India. Woah. Apparently I'm a really awful blogger. But we all knew that, didn't we? Any way, this week was especially crazy. If ever there was a roller coaster week in my life, it was this one. Because roller coasters are so fun (read: painfully enjoyable), I though I would share my ride with the blogosphere. So here's what happened.

(Note: I am taking 18 credits this semester. Normally I take 16, but with my TA job that counts as two. It should count as four, but because I've done it before it doesn't. On top of that, I made a goal to attend two Institute classes. We have Institute for everyone on Wednesday night and Institute on campus on Thursday. Each Institute class is two credits, so I'm really taking 22 credits. And for those who don't know, Institute is a series of religious course provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my sanity every week. And then I have my TA job, which is time consuming (but I love it), and I also have my RA job, which is flexible (a blessing and a curse). So I'm taking 22 credits and working two jobs. Gross. There's just not enough time to do it all.)

I graded 22 papers this week. They ranged from completely wrong to pretty good. I really enjoy grading - I like marking up papers and giving grades. I have since I was a small child. Weird, I know, but I find it rather satisfying. But 22 papers is a lot, especially when you have 4 classes of your own to manage.

I found out on Tuesday that my mom's mom, whom I call Ma, has breast cancer. She's of course handling it like a champ, but it's scary nonetheless.

I found out on Wednesday that I received another scholarship! What?! Crazy, right? The Assistant Dean of the College of Communications just emailed me on Wednesday afternoon and informed me she gave me money. That doesn't happen. So wonderfully crazy. I am so grateful.

The Red Sox won the world series! This is awesome, but I unfortunately did not get to participate in any of the festivities. I did watch the final game, but I watched while grading papers.

And then there was Halloween, for which my roommate assembled an awesome Halloween party at our apartment. I dressed up as hipster Mario, and we danced the night away in our newly cleaned up attic (seriously, Chellee spent so much time preparing for this party - she's an amazing hostess). It was a night to remember.

A week full of highs and lows - mostly highs, and definitely some faith building lows. I have a great life :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Orphanage Visits

I think my favorite experience so far has been visiting an orphanage here in Hyderabad. We went during summer holidays, so half of the children were off visiting other family(in order to be considered an orphan you have to have one or no parent). There were about 50 children there, boys and girls, all adorable.
They sang us songs and recited poems. They wanted us to sing for them, so we sang twinkle twinkle little star and they knew it so they sang along. They asked us each what we did in the US, so we told them what we study. I love telling kids I study film - it makes them think I'm famous. 

The orphanage is run by an amazing woman and her husband. We didn't get to talk with her much beyond hearing what the needs of the orphanage were. We got to know her husband, Dileep, much better. He used to play pro cricket for Hyderabad! He's such a nice man. He always says "God is great!" When talking about the kids in the orphanage. The people who run and work in the orphanage love the children so much. It's wonderful to see children who come from such difficult backgrounds find a happy and loving place to be. 

The children themselves are just beautiful, wonderful people. Two children in particular stood out to me - Malesh and Lakita.

Malesh is about 10 years old and was the first kid to have enough guts to stand up and talk to us when we arrived at the orphanage. The kids were all sitting in neat rows, and we asked them if they had any questions for us. Malesh was brave and raised his hand. He asked where we were from and what we were studying in English (a little broken English, but still impressive). He then proceeded to sing a couple of songs for us, at first solo. The other children usually joined in. He and his friend asked us if we would come back and teach them English. He wants to be so good. 

Lakita is a tiny adorable girl, about five years old. She was recently rescued from the red light district where her mother was a prostitute. When we visited the hostel where the orphanage houses the girls, we discovered she has two older sisters who were also rescued. They are all beautiful and so sweet. Many of the children are in the orphanage with their siblings. It's nice to know they have each other. 

One of the most impactful elements of our visit was realizing that our country director, Ben, was once an orphan in a place like this. He and his twin brother were adopted at 15 months from an orphanage in Goa (an Indian state). Knowing his background turned every little boy in the orphanage into a little Ben. And now Ben gets to return to India and serve children like himself. So wonderful. One of the boys drew a portrait of Ben - they call him Ben 10 because of the TV show (it's very popular here).

 These kids are amazing.

Our visit to the girls hostel also included dancing, singing, and henna - a woman who works there is also a
professional henna artist for weddings. On our palms she drew an Arabic design, and on our forearms and the back of our hands she drew and Indian design. She is quite the artist. 

They fed us lunch, they danced with us, they kissed our cheeks, and they did more for us than they will ever know. We visited to assess the needs of the orphanage, and we came away with a few things we could do. I hope we can help them like they have helped us. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Final Week of Summer Camp and GLOW Wave 1

We have come to the end of our summer camp and first group of GLOW girls. It's definitely a mixed bag of emotions. This week was rather difficult in some ways. First, on Tuesday very few children showed up to summer camp and GLOW had to be cancelled entirely. This is due to a number of reasons, the first being that it is wedding season. There is a season for weddings? Why yes there is! The auspicious time for a marriage in India is determined by the position of the sun and the moon. So all of the weddings happen in that prescribed time, which means there is a lot of traveling and family gatherings and such. This eventually translates into poor attendance at summer camp.

The other reason we had less kids in attendance is that they plain forgot. We last me with them on Thursday of last week, and it's hard to get them to remember to come back. There should have been more kids on Wednesday but our partner organization SAPID threw an environmental rally in our summer camp slum so everything was pushed to an hour later. Anytime the time is changed with something in India, that means a good amount of people won't show. We had a few kids but not as many as last week. It ended up being actually very good - the kids received more attention and more instruction. We went over English words for parts of the body (head, shoulders, knees, and toes etc.) and colors, numbers, and fruit. The kids had fun and so did we. GLOW was cancelled on Wednesday too because of the time change. On top of the time change the government schools started their new school year this week and neither SAPID nor our group knew about it, so a good chunk of kids were missing because of that. I was really sad that my project, GLOW, though scheduled for 6 days and 6 lessons only ended up having 3 days and 3 lessons, not due to anything that I did but mostly due to cultural issues and scheduling conflicts. Still, it was rather discouraging.

But we still had Thursday. And Thursday ended up being our best GLOW meeting. We taught the girls about menstruation, and our translator from SAPID, Urmi (the coolest woman you'll ever meet and our adopted Indian mom), was fantastic at explaining things where we fell short. I've never taught about menstruation before. I had to have Ben, our country director and resident health teacher, teach me how to teach it. That was an awkward but informative experience ha ha. I think Eric, who sat through Ben teaching us how to teach it, probably felt more awkward. It was pretty funny. But it went well with the girls, I think.

And then we taught them about self esteem. Julia took an apple and compared it to self esteem - when you think negative things, it's like dropping your apple and you get bruises. However, inside of every apple there is a star (then she cut the apple and showed them how the seeds made a star pattern). The girls loved it - they kept calling themselves super stars. And then we had them write in their journals things they liked about themselves. Annie asked if she could read what they wrote and many of them wrote that they wanted to help poor people. This was eye opening - they ARE poor, and they want to help others in their situation. I think I learn more from these girls than they will ever learn from me.

I hope what we taught them sticks with them. I think it was a wonderful way to wrap up our first wave of GLOW girls. We are going to try to get a new group each month to work with so we can help as many girls as possible.

Monday, June 3, 2013


We just got back form our first excursion outside of Hyderabad to Bangalore, and it was lovely! This was a strictly touristy trip, no humanitarian work this time (though on some of our tourist excursions we will be delivering hygiene kits and stuff). It began with us waiting for a bus, and a tiny van pretending to be a bus pulling up. They told us to get on, so we did, and by the time we thought it would be a REALLY long bus ride, they dropped us off at our real bus - a big, travel bus with reclining seats and a TV and everything. It was quite amusing. We rode the bus all night long to get there, and they showed us a Bollywood movie! I'm not sure what the movie was called, and it wasn't my favorite, but it was definitely enjoyable. After the movie we were left to try and sleep in the seats, which was rather difficult but I managed 4 or 5 hours of sleep. And when I woke up I was in Bangalore!

Bangalore is about 30 degrees cooler and more green than Hyderabad. It's all jungle-like. Well, compared to anything I've ever seen. It's also a bigger city. People were wearing more Western-looking clothes. It had rained the night before so the air was clean and everything smelled good.

After breakfast we stopped by the Bangalore Mission Office - it was so great to be somewhere that my brother Danny had been when he served his mission. I think about that all the time in Hyderabad too. My brother was here! It's a very happy thought.

Then we went shopping! I bought a ring and earrings and a churidar top and some of those awesome baggy genie pants. I'm going to be broke when I get home... :/ but I love the stuff I bought.

And the hotel...was palatial! Well, actually, it was across the street from Leela Palace (view from our window - amazing!), so it was almost palatial. But it really was so nice. I took a shower. Oh my goodness. There were six faucets spraying all different parts of my body. I was almost laughing - it was the best shower ever. And we had wifi! So I talked to my loved ones back in the states and emailed and stuff. So nice. The beds were super fluffy and lovely. We decided to take a dip in the pool which was fun until we discovered first one then around 11 guys creepily watching us swim from the building across the street. Creepers. One of them even had binoculars. So we left.

Later in the evening we went to dinner at TGI Fridays for a taste of America. It started raining so we walked there underneath the freeway flyover. There are no pedestrian rules here. You just walk slowly enough so the cars and autos can drive you but fast enough that you don't get hit. It's always an adventure.

The real adventure, though, was the next day - Mysore Palace! We hired a cab driver to take us there. It took about 4.5 hours to get there because we got a flat. Our driver was great and changed it quite quickly, and then a nice lady brought him water to wash his hands in - there's a great sense of community here. Everyone helps everyone else out.

Mysore Palace was BEAUTIFUL. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the palace, so google it if you want to see it. It's so pretty. The tiles and the wood and the walls - it was like Indian Versailles.

And behind the palace I might have gone on an ELEPHANT RIDE!!! First we ran into the elephant while it was giving rides to other people and I got to touch it's trunk! It was hairy! And rough! Surprising but so so cool. And then we rode the elephant. Julia was kind enough to take pictures while we rode. Elephants may well be one of my new favorite animals. I want one. They let each of us sit in the driver's seat/spot. And it was amazing. We also went on a camel ride - I couldn't help but sing "Prince Ali" from Aladdin while I rode the camel. It just had to be that way. It was wonderful.

We had to hurry back to Bangalore to catch our bus, but apparently our driver didn't catch the memo because he stopped to get his flat tire repaired. And by the time we got back to Bangalore we had 30 minutes to get to our bus that was 45 minutes away. We called and told them to hold the bus for us, but they informed us that they cancelled our bus and we would just have to hurry to get a spot on another. Yikes. So our driver was awesome and sped to get us there (as safely as possible, of course). And he did! We made it! And then there was the bus ride - long, no Bollywood movie, and still rather uncomfortable. But in the morning we were back in Hyderabad - and it felt like home. I live in India. What a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The End of our First Week of Service

Today we finished our first week of summer camp and GLOW. I must say that it was a successful week. We’re all exhausted. I just woke up from a nap and everyone else is still asleep. Those kids just took it all out of us.

We have about 60 kids in our summer camp. We meet in a little church in one of the slums. We bought every child a notebook and pencil to work with. We finally got in the groove today schedule-wise: first we do something active to tire the kids out. Today we played Gangnum Style and made snakes/trains. I led one of the trains for a while. The kids are super fun and so energetic. I love that they come to summer camp even though they’re on break. After we tire them out we get them working on the English alphabet, thinking of words and pictures for each letter. They are far more familiar with the alphabet than we thought, but it’s a good review for them. We usually split them into groups by age so we can move at a more appropriate pace. Some of the children have a fantastic grasp on English, some not so much. They speak Telegu, so we have a couple of translators there to help us communicate. One woman from SAPID, our partner organization that is helping us to organize the camp, is a fantastic resource – her name is Urmi, and she is so kind and funny. We have kind of adopted her as our group mom. She takes good care of us. A couple of members from the local LDS church join us as translators too – a teenage boy called Ammon and a young adult called Jon. They’re fun and their knowledge of both English and Telegu is so helpful. I really wish I could speak Telegu. It would be so useful right now.

Right after summer camp we head over to a neighboring community for GLOW. We have 17-ish girls in our group. Yesterday we introduced the idea of SMART goals to them (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based). Today we finished up SMART goals and taught them basic personal hygiene like face-washing and teeth-brushing (this is when it comes in handy to have a dentist brother who taught me the proper way to brush teeth). The most effective part of the lesson was the part about washing hands. Our volunteer Meera illustrated the concepts of germs with glitter – she put glitter on her hands, then shook some of the girls hands and the glitter spread. I love this example for talking about germs. The girls seemed to get what it meant, and hopefully now they will be better about washing their hands.

Next week we tackle the taboo topic of menstruation. The mothers don’t teach their daughters about what menstruation is, so the girls are left thinking something is wrong with them – they’re not allowed to, in some situations, go to school or be in the kitchen during their periods. They don’t have access to pads either, so we’re going to research a way to make homemade pads and other ways of handling it. Mostly we just want them to know it’s a normal part of life and it’s healthy to have a period.

My time here is run basically like a full-time job – we work from 10am-6pm and then after we are free to do other things. We went to an exhibition near our house on Wednesday night. An exhibition is basically a carnival. They have big stands full of bangles and clothes and random toys. They have carnival games and even a haunted house, which we all got up the nerve to go through. It ended up being not scary at all until the end. It was a little gory and creepy though. Eliza had her face hidden in my backpack the entire time.

I am the only blonde person I have seen since I’ve been here. People stare at us everywhere we go. Not only are we white but we are usually loud – Americans are just loud. It’s a fact. People don’t have any qualms about staring, so we stare back. Usually we wave and say hello and they’ll say hi back. It’s weird to be stared at everywhere I go. It makes me feel a bit like a celebrity, but mostly just really self-conscious.

The food finally got to me yesterday and I vomited. I threw up out the door of the bus on the way back from the slums. The driver was really nice and kept asking if I was okay. Annie held the hair out of my face while we rode home – she’s so sweet. I’m here with the nicest people in the world. I assumed I’d throw up at some point, but I was of course hoping it wouldn’t happen. I’m fine today. I’m still a little queasy but much better. I still feel like I never want to eat food ever again. I’m hoping that will pass by tomorrow. I’ve also had bouts of homesickness as per usual Jenny behavior. All in all, all is well. I’m very happy to be here and I have learned a ton about myself and life. What an amazing experience. This is a very grateful Jenny.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm in India!!!

Hello everyone! I’ve been in India for almost two weeks now – I know, I know, it has taken me a while to post about it. Here’s why: Internet. It turns out the Internet is ridiculously hard to come by in India. We’ve tried Internet cafes, we’ve tried bumming of wifi at the church, we’ve gone to neighbors, etc. We were supposed to have Internet in our apartment (that’s what HELP told us before we got here) but our landlord signed us up for the worst Internet company in India and though they said it would be activated last week, it has yet to work. So we bought a mobile wifi hotspot from another company, but apparently there was a 200mb data limit on our monthly plan, and we used it all in one night (we paid for unlimited, so this is their problem, not ours). Anyway, if it sounds like I’m frustrated it’s because I am. The Internet is not the important thing – it’s only a minor set back. The important thing is…


Yes, I really am here. And it is amazing. Overwhelming. Crazy. Awesome.

After a 5-hour bus ride to NYC, 7-hour plane ride to London (yay, London! Favorite place in the world), and 10-hour plane ride to Hyderabad, I finally arrived! On the flight to London they fed us and then I gave it back to them in a barf bag when we hit turbulence. In the London airport I was able to find one of the other volunteers – I determined it was him because he was wearing a BYU shirt. 

His name is Eric Townsend, and we arrived in Hyderabad together. After a little hold up at the immigration desk because I didn’t have an in-country address and phone number, Eric and I retrieved our luggage and were greeted by Julia and Ben, our country directors. It was around 6:30am. We spent the rest of the first day calling home so our parents would know we were alive and setting up the apartment our CDs procured for us the day before. It’s an awesome apartment – a full service apartment. So basically it’s like a hotel with room service and breakfast and dinner cooked for us every day, filtered water brought to our door, etc. The best thing about the apartment is that we have AC. It’s so lovely. We picked up the other volunteers in the following days.

And then there is Hyderabad. It’s definitely a different world. The driving is crazy. They don’t follow the traffic lines, and they barely follow the traffic lights. The auto rickshaws drive up and around and in between all of the other cars and moped/scooters, somehow never touching each other. It’s amazing. Somehow I feel safer riding in an auto than in a car. The cars are bigger and scarier. The rickshaws are a bit more mobile. We’ve had some really awesome auto drivers. One guy had his little boy riding with him, and the boy understood English pretty well so he was laughing at everything we said. His dad was teasing us as we went. It was great. Some of the drivers sing while they go, and some of the younger drivers have sound systems and radios in their autos. It’s awesome. Love it.

And then there’s the food. It’s amazing. So good. Hyderabad and southern India in general is known for being spicy, and that’s not a lie. However, I have loved every meal I’ve had. Favorite things to eat are masala dosa for breakfast and ghee sweets. I love the sweets. I think I’m the only person in my group who truly does.

The group! You need to know who the people in my group are! With Help Intl volunteers come in waves. As part of the first wave, we have Eric Townsend from Oklahoma and BYU, Eliza Dowdle from Holladay and the U of U, Annie Pinnock from Holladay and BYU, and Meera Andersen from Orem and UVU. Our country directors are Ben Reichert and Julia Darley. Bottom line: everyone is awesome. We have a few more people joining us in June and July, but I kind of feel bad for them because our wave is already so close. I’m sure they’ll fit in just fine.

And now to the important part of this post: the service! We have already started three projects and have plans for many more. Today we held our first session of summer camp for kids in the slums. We’re reviewing school concepts and playing games and such to get them ready for the new school year that starts in a couple of weeks. Tomorrow we hold the first session of GLOW right after summer camp. GLOW is an empowerment group for teenage girls in the slums. We’re going to be talking about leadership, health, maturation, self-esteem, and many more things. I hope it goes well. We have also started work on getting five bore wells underway. I’m helping make a video for the fundraising part of that. I’ve already been able to film a bunch of stuff – so glad I brought my camera.

Projects to come: painting educational murals on school walls, possibly working in a hospital with leprosy patients, teaching English classes to community members, and many more.

So much fun! So much to do! We are very busy.

And this weekend we are taking a trip to Bangalore! It will be wonderful. Keep checking back for updates.


Monday, May 13, 2013

The day is here!

Well, the day has finally come! I am currently on a bus to New York. From there I will fly to London (ahhhhh!) and then Hyderabad (wooo!). 

Honestly I'm scared. Well, perhaps nervous is a better word. I didn't expect leaving Boston to be so painful - I love it here, and spending the summer here would have been lovely too. Plus, me being me, I tend to get a bit nervous/scared before I go on a big adventure. I felt this way before going on my study abroad to London, and that ended up being the best two months of my life. Here's hoping India is a wonderful experience. I'm sure it will be. New situations always make me feel uneasy, but I guess that's how we grow.

Right now I'm just missing my friends back in Boston. They've become my family, and I'm afraid I left a bit of my heart with them. 

In two days (two looooong days of lots of sitting and strangers sitting too closely) I will be in India. Crazy. I'm so thankful for everyone who donate to make this possible. I will try to make you proud.

The woman sitting next to me on the bus has the button tones on for her phone, so there's an obnoxious beep every time she presses a button. And she is texting. Blargh. Oh well. She doesn't stink, so that's something. 

More updates to come :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013


The rumors are true, it's official - I will be spending two months in INDIA this summer! I am so excited! In fact, it's making it difficult to focus on school. I just want to go now. 

But why am I going to India, you ask? Here's why:

1. I have always wanted to go on a humanitarian trip. It's one thing to know that there is poverty in this world. It's another thing entirely to see it and be able to do something about it. 

2. HELP International does really great work in India. For example, in 2012 they ran a summer camp for 150 students from slum communities, taught maturation classes to young women, offered provident living workshop to over 60 participants, created a Missing Children campaign to curb child disappearance in India, and drilled 12 bore wells, granting thousands of people access to safe drinking water. They also run a program for young women called GLOW, which empowers the girls to stay in school. I am particularly interested in the education and public health opportunities in India. Think of how much difference you can make by helping a girl get an education - by teaching her that she has value and deserves that education!

3. I spend far too much time thinking about myself. It's almost all I do, it feels like. I want to get outside of myself and help other people. That's the only way to find true happiness. Plus, the people I will be serving need my attention much more than I do.

4. It's India. It has a vibrant culture and it's completely different from anything I've ever experience before. It's inspired me to learn Hindi - that's how in love with the culture I am. 

Now here's where you - yes, you - come in. I need your help to make the above mentioned public health and education projects possible. I am completely willing to pay for the entire thing myself, but I want to include you so you can be a participant. Not everybody has the time or the inclination to spend a summer in a foreign, far-off land, but everybody can be a part of it.

My goal is to raise $6000 by April 1, 2013.

Please consider donating $35$50$100$250$500 or whatever you can. Any amount helps. Checks should be made payable to HELP International with “Jenny Hardy” in the memo line. Donations can be mailed directly to HELP International at 455 N. University Ave. Suite 212, Provo, UT 84601 or through Network for Good online.  For online donations, go to HELP's donation page and include “Jenny Hardy” in the dedication box. If you’d like more info please visit the HELP International website

You will change countless lives by simply taking a few minutes to donate. It’s worth it!

I am so excited to go to India, and I am equally excited to share those experiences with you. Keep checking back for updates and countdowns. And please consider donating. Even if it's just $10, that's $10 to help keep a girl in school or provide a family with safe drinking water.

In the mean time, back to school....

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


There are times where I get sudden onsets of intense homesickness. Today it was looking at a picture of my mom playing with my niece/her granddaughter Maya. My mom has been visiting Danny and his family in Oregon this past weekend.

I don't feel homesick for places necessarily, and heaven knows I'm glad I didn't have to deal with the crazy snowstorms in Utah that I saw people posting about all over Facebook yesterday. I get homesick for people. I will see a picture, like my mom and Maya or my nieces and nephews at my parents, or my brother and our mutual friends eating at some restaurant we used to go to, and I feel a pang of longing.

I'm not longing to leave here - I actually love my friends here and living in Boston is really cool. I just wish all those people I love would move out here. Then perhaps it wouldn't feel like my heart is being splintered. The sad thing is that I know all the people I love will never all be in the same place at once. I will have some form of this splintered feeling for the rest of my life.

I guess it's true what they say about home being where the heart is.