This week, Mahatma Gandhi International School (MGIS) welcomed thirteen 9th grade students and three teachers of Mercedes College (Australia) for an exciting, activity-packed fourteen day stay. The aussies are living with their Indian host families interacting with them to gain a first hand exposure to Indian culture, and an insider’s perspective on people, families, and by and large, life in India.
Apart from the cultural exchange, there is an important element of community and service to this visit as well. Being inclusive is a vital aspect of MGIS’s pedagogy, and thus it integrates 20% socio-economically underprivileged children in every class. Mecredes College students visited heir homes and interacted with them and their families.
The students of both schools organized exhibition of their culture specific traditions such as rangoli, tie and dye, rugby, etc. There were also activities and performances to create intercultural awareness. There were several interactive sessions on Gandhian philosophy, comparative study of recycling and preserving resources, Heritage walk in the old city, excursions to local monuments and temples such as Adalaj, Gandhi Ashram and so forth. With their visit coinciding with Navartri, the Australians have, from the very onset, gotten a taste of Indian festivities and traditions; the colorful attires and accessories, the food, and most importantly Garba, a folk dance from Gujarat!
(please click on the fist picture to view slideshow)
Highlights of the exchange programme:
-Interactive sessions with grade 10 on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi
-Presentations by grade 10 comparing methods and policies pertaining recycling of resources in India and Australia
- Navratri celebration in school with performances of garba, rass, and other folk dances of the state by MGIS students
- Indo-Australia day, a sort of cultural fair with activities and stalls, both Indian and Australian (tie and dye, rangoli, making boomerangs, rugby, food, block printing, henna etc.)
- The Heritage walk and excursions to the Gandhi Ashram and various historical temples and monuments of the city.
- Cultural exchange night (organized by the 10th graders)
- Four-day trip to Udaipur
Thoughts from students and teachers:
“The people here are a lot more religous, but I think they’re also really friendly. The food is also very different, it is tastier and more authentic, especially the tea! My experiance here so far has been extremely enjoyable, but it has also been spiritual and eye-opening”
Laurence Lacoon Williamson, Mercedes college student
“So far, I think India’s great, I don’t want to go home. The people are really friendly, and I’m fascinated by how people drive here, without the lanes and everything. I think the heat’s nice too! It’s just been really exciting, the navratri festival, and the excursions. I’m also really looking forward to Udaipur and the rest of our stay”
Alex Ryan, Mercedes college student
“I’m hosting two Australian students, and this is the second time I’m doing it, but it’s still been really great. I really like introducing them to the city and our culture. I’ve been taking them on Rickshaw rides… I also took them to a Gurdwara. I really cherish this opportunity to interact with people from another culture.”
Harsimran Kaur, MGIS student
“I’m really excited to be here, just immersed in a mix of cultures, with people free to express themselves and… make noise. I think, as a whole, my experience so far has just been extremely positive and intensely rewarding, and something I will never forget. This is probably one of the highlights of my life”
- Esther Lamb, Mercedes College Teacher
“We’ve been having educational exchange programmes with Mercedes College since 2004. This is actually the 5th exchange programme that I’ve been a part of. I think it is a wonderful amalgamation of both cultures with students brought together through sharing, collaborative teamwork and learning about each other. One of things I’ve realized is that, we are intrinsically the same as human beings. That’s really one of the most exciting facets of these exchange programmes, celebrating our differences as well as enjoying our similarities through a healthy platform of exchange “
Minoo Joshi, Middle Years Programme Coordinator, MGIS
“This is my second trip to MGIS, I appreciate India immensely. MGIS has been really welcoming, and every time I’m here there’s always something new to experience and look forward to. Also, I think it’s just wonderful watching the kids and my collegues, who are all here for the first time, interacting and living new experiences. The IB promotes the idea of holistic learning, and I think this is a living example of the same. Being immersed in an entirely new culture, and having the opportunity to learn more about it, interacting with new people promotes understanding, tolerance and empathy”
- Paul Wordsworth, Head of Middle School, Mercedes College