|On 26th September, the third student group arrived from Sweden. It was a mixed group of 24 students from various disciplines such as environmental science, computer science, social studies with some studying culture and others studying economics and business studies. Two teachers who had earlier been to Pune twice under the same exchange program accompanied the group.|
After a few days in a reputed city hotel to get acclimatized to a new environment, the group moved in with host families of TOS students (9th graders) and teachers.
A well-knit program covering all aspects and relevant to their course was designed for them.
On the first day at the school, an orientation program was scheduled. This comprised of an overview of the Orchid school system, educational system in India, followed with guidelines and norms of the exchange program and a peek into the overall daily schedule.
The first week was dedicated to the Ganesh Festival, wherein they took part in the celebrations by visiting various Ganesh mandals for eg. Dagdusheth and observed the gaiety and fanfare on the immersion day. They also went for a heritage walk, had an interactive meeting with the host families over tea.
In the second week, they had two interactive sessions, one with author, Mr. Deepak Dalal and the other with Profession P.N. N. Iyer on the topic ‘The world of Business’, a session on Mythology by Neha Sharma and a session on Biodiversity with Neela Vidwans. They also visited Suzlon, a wind manufacturing company, to understand the mechanisms; they had a tour of the Wind Gallery followed with an overview of their CSR activities. The computer group students visited MIT, college of Design and Animation.
An overnight visit to an agricultural farm in Baramati (part of the Agriculture Development Trust) gave them an exposure to the rural part of India. They observed the penetration of modern techniques of farming in India, experienced the excitement of a snake show, had the opportunity to visit a famous Shiva temple and interacted with agricultural students.
They spent quality time with their respective host families on Sundays and other holidays. They bonded well with them and enjoyed shopping, and other activities with them. The credit of the huge success of this program truly goes to the host families, who have done everything possible to make their stay happy and comfortable.
To get an overview of the educational system as well as the environmental awareness in India, visits to various organizations and institutions were planned in the last week. They visited Flame - institution for liberal arts and business studies, DAV public school, Modern school, Indradhanushya - training centre for environmental issues, Smile, an NGO working towards making the underprivileged women economically independent, and a Biogas plant. The computer group students visited Krayon pictures, a 3 D movie making enterprise.
A cross - cultural session with Lakshmi Di helped them connect and understand the two different cultural perspectives i.e. Sweden and India. A session on Indian Religion with Mohua di and a visit to the Gurudwara were an integral part of this program as the students have a subject where they learn about the different religions of the world.
The trip culminated with two days in Mumbai for an experience of one of the largest Metropolitan cities of India. Some students and their teachers went for a guided tour of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia. One of the main objectives of the tour is to break down the negative attitudes that many people have towards people from less developed communities- particularly the slums.
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