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Swiss Exchange Program

Our school hosted Swiss students of École des Arches school, Lausanne - Switzerland as a part of the Cultural Exchange Programme. Swiss delegation of 3 students and 3 teachers visited India from 12th – 21st Oct, 2017. They were hosted by our students’ families.

On the first day our Swiss guests were welcomed at School. They were taken around to see the campus and were impressed by the colours and the buzz at school, being Diwali celebration at school. Next they attended a class in English. It was a good learning experience, considering that English is a second language for them. Later, they took part in the Senior school Diwali celebration. It was fun for them to try their hands at traditional artwork of ‘Rangoli’ and unleash their creativity. The day ended with a dinner at ‘Barbeque Nation’.

Day 2
included visit to Dhobi ghat, Mahalaxmi temple and Mani Bhavan. It gave the Swiss guests an insight into traditional Indian culture and life of Mahatma Gandhi. Students marveled at the scale of operation at Asia’s largest open laundry – Dhobi ghat and were impressed by the business acumen of the uneducated laundrymen. ‘Thali’ meal served at Samrat restaurant, made them savor Gujarati delicacies. Students tried their hands at traditional block printing art and applique work at the Museum. Day ended with visit to The Vatsalya Foundation. It was a humbling experience, as the children at center gave them a warm welcome. Students enjoyed spending time with these less privileged children and surely took back a life lesson – to be happy with limited resources!

Heritage walk on following day, from Gateway of India to Jehangir Art gallery, Bombay High Court to CST station made them appreciate the architecture at these sites! To beat the heat, they were treated with some freshly squeezed sugarcane ‘ganna’ juice, which they relished. Truly it gave them a boost of energy for a game of ‘cricket’ against a local team at Oval Maidan. Though the match was lost, Swiss students completely enjoyed batting and running for runs in between, while taking tips of the game from their Indian hosts. Lunch was a traditional South Indian meal, served on banana leaf. Lunch table buzzed with conversations ranging from Ayurveda to benefits of eating with hands. It was an interesting experience not just for Swiss guests, but also us, as we had to eat with our hands! Post afternoon time was spent with Indian hosts, either shopping or relaxing.

On day 4, a train trip to Bharuch was planned, via Shatabdi. Though it was a morning trip, students enjoyed watching the Indian countryside from their train windows. From Bharuch, we were taken to Birla Century plant at GIDC area of Jhagadia. Students were awed by the scale of operation and the massive state of art machinery at the plant. They were taken around the factory, where they got to see everything right from cotton bales coming in to it being processed to cloth, the dyeing, the finishing process and also the R&D department. They had this new found respect for Indian manufacturing set up! Though they returned via train on same day, the hectic schedule was worth it, considering the opportunity they got to see this plant!

Next day, was more relaxed with visit to Nehru Centre – Discovery of India center. They got a peek into different Indian cultures and their history, state wise. The sky theatre at the Planetarium, showcased ‘Biography of Universe’, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Day 6 they visited Elephanta Caves. It was an hour trip in ferry from Gateway of India. The place gave them insight into art and history of the caves, apart from being a great ‘site for photos’. They enjoyed some local Indian gooseberry and raw mangoes, as they took the Mini train ride. Not to forget, the ‘bargaining’ for local souvenirs and artefacts, to take them as gifts for family and friends!

Diwali day was with the host families to celebrate the festival and understand the culture. They had great time partaking in ‘pujas’ and relishing ‘Indian sweets’. Some of them went shopping with families, while others socialized in the ‘get together’ Diwali parties.

On last day, a culinary class was planned at school. It was a site to see them put on their aprons and cooking caps, to get into the ‘chef’ mode. They tried some Indian recipes of ‘nankhatai’ and had fun rolling the ‘laddoos’. Pin wheel samosas and ‘thandai’ were also made. They were happy to take laddoos home with some nankhatai, in a box with a ‘diya’, to serve as a Diwali gift hand made by them in India.

Evening had Mughal –e-Azam show at NCPA. Our Swiss guests and Indian students, were mesmerized by the performances at the show. They were spell bound by the live singing of artistes and beautifully choreographed dances and carefully crafted costumes. Post the show, they went to airport to take their flight back home.

They had wonderful memories of their visit to India. The glimpses that they got into the Indian culture, with its art, history, celebrations and hospitality of their hosts touched them. Not to forget the fun times they had with the students, playing FIFA and other games and bonding! Truly on their way to become global citizens, having respect for local cultures! The students now await their visit to Switzerland to understand their culture and be a part of their Christmas celebration. Truly an enriching exchange experience!