This year in the end of the month of March we took a team of eleven children to ‘The School of Nations,’ Macau under the Student Exchange Programme.

We were overwhelmed by the warm welcome we received there. Children stayed with their respective buddies where they were loved and looked after. The school has children of almost thirty five different nationalities. Through this programme our children learnt about the host country. They discovered their own ability to adapt themselves to the new environment, new culture and new lifestyle. They attended the school and participated in many activities of the school. Their interpersonal skill came to the fore. The Exchange Programme also helped them to a great extent in improving their spoken English as they were totally immersed in the language.

The amazing part of the school is that there are almost sixty staff members from fourteen different parts of the world. Their nationalities differ, they speak different language yet they are striving towards one goal to steer the young learners towards a bright future.

On our way back to India we visited Hongkong also. The Disneyland tour for them was the cherry on the cake.

Rekha Anand

My desire to experience something new led me to experience the amazing trip to Macau. It all started when a trip to Macau was announced in my school. I instantly wanted to go for it and went home that day and asked my mother. She asked me, “Why do you want to go so eagerly?” I gave a simple honest answer, “to explore a new world independently. My mother saw my aspiration for this learning experience and gave me permission for the trip. She did a short background check from school and other children’s parents who had gone earlier to satisfy her motherly concerns and then completed all formalities. She gave me wings to fly high and let me open my eyes to the upcoming experience in my life. That moment onwards a spark of happiness lit in me and I got a feeling of real independence.

Then I started all the preparations for the travel. On the day of travel, I was all set with my bags and checked my passport and documents. We checked my our bags and finally boarded the flight. Seated in the flight , I realized that independence is great but it is also so different and strange because I was so used to having my parents around me every time .

On reaching Macau I was awestruck by the beauty of the foreign land. Breathing the sea breeze filled my heart with excitement .I was already enjoying my like Alice in wonderland. We were taken to our to the school in Macau and met our buddies. My buddy was Milly, She was God sent, wonderful person and she were as excited to meet me. I also met her loving and caring family. I realized that they made me feel so loved and cared for just like my parents. From then on wards roaming around the city , shopping , watching plays and movies , dining out , it was great fun . It was a great feeling to enjoy the buzz in the lively streets of Macau . But more than everything else I enjoyed it all with my buddy’s company . She took care of me during my visit and never let me feel that I was away from my home. Coming back to India , it was nice to be back home again . However I will always miss the company and fun that we had in Macau . The trip taught me so much . To be independent , to enjoy the life ahead freely but to also take the right decisions so that it may take me a long way in life .

Written by Aisha Shaikh

Italian Experience 2013

Italian Experience

During April this year, a group of nine students had gone on an exchange programme to Italy, for fifteen days, to participate in a film festival which was organized by the host school, I.I.S.S- VITTORIO FOSSOMBRONI GEOMETRI- LINGUISTICS, based at Arezzo, Tuscany. The film festival showcased documentaries and short films made by the school children themselves. It was divided into three categories. The first was of 8 to 13 years, second of 13 to 18 years and the third from 18 to 26 years. We also met AFS ( American Field Survey ) volunteers from Turkey, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong and other places. Our children had a wonderful time exchanging ideas with these volunteers. The children were given a task. Our children were paired with these volunteers and had to canvass for the film festival speaking in Italian which was quite a task, but never the less enjoyed thoroughly. They were assigned streets in Arezzo and they had to distribute pamphlets of the film festival. In the process they befriended quite a few locals who were amazed at the fact that how well our children had adapted themselves to every situation. Besides, we also visited a number of places like Perugia, Sienna, Pisa, Venice and of course Florence. Visiting the wine factory in Arezzo proved to be an added bonus as Count Fabiano, who owned the wine factory, himself came over to meet us which was very exciting. Over all, the exchange was very fruitful. It has made the children more confident of themselves.

Rashmi Tiwari
The leaning tower of Pisa is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The place where the tower is situated,, is called the square of miracles due to its amazing and unbelievable architecture. This place has three main monuments; first the leaning tower itself which is renowned world wide…second is the cathedral and third is the church. Some of us went inside the leaning tower. As we stepped in, we felt like we are going to fall towards the leaning part of the tower though it was not a steep gradient. The view of the city from the terrace was mesmerizing. It was really fun to be inside. If I would get a chance in future I would prefer to go to Italy once again.

Jyotika Misra
In Arrezo, we were there at the school to attend a movie festival in which school chilgren from different countries like Norway, Argentina, Japan, Turkey etc. actively participated.
Being a part of this festival, the first thing we did was distribute the events pamphlets at different shops and cafes. We were divided into 4 groups with a leader who was an Italian. Thereafter each group was given around 500 pamphlets and few posters and we had to speak a phrase in Latin while giving these pamphlets at different places and convince people to participate in the festival. The phrase was ‘posho lasharea Di volentini’. It was an exciting task for us because we who don’t even know Latin, had to go to people and speak the language confidently. Next day, we had to attend the press confrence dressed in traditional Indian outfits with the provincial counselor. It comprised an official announcement for the film festival. Thus, we got an opportunity to attend that. The same day we also gave shots for a short video clip depicting dances from Indian cinema. We danced on the number ‘ainvayi ainvayi’, dressed in traditional Indian dress as the movie experts shot our video. Apart from that we were also interviewed on the cultural differences between India and Italy by the same experts. They asked us questions like what’s the strangest thing you found on the streets of Italy? How are Italian students different from Indian students and so on and so forth.
At night, we had dinner with the entire festival team and American field survey volunteers who had come from different countries to be a part of the festival.
On 18th the movie festival started and it concluded on the 20th with an award ceremony. In the course of these three days, there were documentaries shown which were filmed and acted upon by students of different age groups; first group was of children below the age of 13, the second between age 13-18 and the third for students between age of 18-21. The movies shown were really impressive and almost all the short films carried an intense message in them. Also, on the final day i.e 20th, the short clip shot on us along with the interview was shown to all at the festival.
Alongside that, we also got an opportunity to attend two workshops. The first one was a dubbing workshop in which we dubbed for a short part of the cartoon- aristocrats in Latin. We had quite a hard time doing that because there were many complicated Italian words in there and we had to speak fluently and in coordination to one another. But the lady who had conducted that workshop was really happy with the end result and our dubbed cartoon was also shown on the final day of the festival. The second workshop we attended was an improvisational theatre workshop in which one of the theatre experts taught us how to coordinate with one another on the stage and speak with fluency.
On the final day, when the award ceremony was conducted, A small video clipping of our girls from Prerna School made in collaboration with UNICEF was also shown and since the school faculty was impressed by those videos and the work which our Study Hall Foundation has been doing, they wanted to also show those videos at the festival. The response we got at the festival was overwhelming. Overall, we had an enjoyable time at the festival making it a rich and unique experience.

Pranshu Mehrotra
I am going to share the experience of our host families. Our host families were very caring, polite, warm and welcoming. Although the parents of our buddies did not know much English, our buddies used to translate in English whatever they spoke in Latin and helped us to communicate with them. We enjoyed a lot with our host families and our buddies. They tried their best to make our trip enjoyable and memorable. They used to make delectable Italian food for us and one day they surprised us by making Indian dishes. They also helped us in buying Italian food and souvenirs. Last but not the least, there was a feeling of nostalgia on the last day.

Anushka Srivastava

Italians, by nature, are very warm and welcoming. They are humble and caring just like us but their way of caring is different from ours. India and Italy has many differences with reference to the society. In Italy we came across many culture shocks like people kissing in public and teenagers smoking with their friends at schools and at home. This culture was a little shocking for us as these kind of activities are not common as well as not socially acceptable in India. Smoking or drinking in Italy is legal after 16 years of age but in India it is legal only after 18 years. On Saturday nights, teenagers usually go out with their friends whereas in India Saturdays are mostly spent with the family. The best thing we found there was the way the Italian people follow rules like traffic rules which was appreciated by everyone. We didn’t find anyone breaking the traffic rules. During our stay in Arezzo, we gathered many memories with our host families to cherish throughout our whole life. Visiting a place like Italy and living in an entirely different society was a wonderful experience.

Aryan Chopra

I am going to talk about the school where we went for an exchange program. The school’s name is I.I.S.S- VITTORIO FOSSOMBRONI GEOMETRI- LINGUISTICS AZ.LE. The school had a nice entrance with gardens around it. The school calls its playgrounds as gym. The school has indoor basketball courts and volleyball courts. The outdoor playground is called the soccer field ( where students soccer). It is mandatory for all the students to spend an hour every week at the gym. The teachers of this play school are very nice and there common language is Italian. The school focuses on communicative studies. The students are given a choice whether to take English or Spanish. The school has many labs where the students are taught English and each lab can hold about 30 students. The school also has a chemistry lab, a Bio lab and a physics lab which is similar to our school. The school also has a library which has all kinds of books in Italian. Overall the school was awesome! !!! And if I am given one more chance I would like to visit one more time.

Yash Chitransh

There are lots of similarities and differences between Indian and
Italian food. In India we use many variety of spices but in Italy they
use a select range of spices and the big difference we found in
the food was that the kind of food they eat is less spicy and
is mostly boiled. The good point is that even after they are
boiled and less spices are used, it’s delicious. In the morning they
have similar type of breakfast as we have like milk, biscuits, toast,
coffee, etc.
In Italy we also found one more very strange and new thing about
coffee. Indian coffee is mixed with milk and sugar
but Italian coffee contains no milk(traditional coffee) and
very less sugar is added which makes it really very strong. It was difficult to drink in the beginning but slowly we became used to it and started enjoying the strong coffee.

I visited Italy and got a chance to taste such a variety of Italian
food like pizza, pasta, and also the sauces and pesto, which was also
a type of sauce, was such a pleasure.

Pratyaksha Mehrotra

Italy is a wonderful place to visit. Our stay was at Arezzo & from there we went to Florence. It is a beautiful city. We saw squares like Pisa Della Republica and Pisa Sanjovani. The view of churches from there was simply awesome. We also went to see churches like St. Maria church and Santa Maria Novella church. The story of Jesus inside the church was depicted by beautiful frescoes. We saw monuments specific to Roman architecture and sculptures around us which was amazing. The statue of David seemed so real and saw a rush of tourists. It was a very beautiful sight. The three bridges on the river Arno was very picturesque.

Mauritius Exchange Program 2012

Our children along with two teachers reached Mauritius safely and are enjoying the marvellous weather and the serenity that the place offers in abundance. Their itinerary shows visit to North, South, East and West Mauritius on different days. They have attended the host school and are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Join me in wishing them the very best of stay!

Shalini Sinha
Study Hall School

Prerna and Vidyasthali students receive scholarship for education USA 2012

Kunti Rawat

Kunti Rawat

Hindustan Times (Tuesday, May 01, 2012): Kunti is the second youngest child among eight sib- lings. Her father is bedridden and her mother is a housewife. She lives in a semi-construct- ed house in Digdiga Gaon (a slum in Vishal Khand 2) and belongs to a Dalit family. But none of this has stopped her from going to a community col- lege in the US on a one-year scholarship.

Meet 19 year-old Kunti Rawat who is currently preparing for her BA third year exams from IGNOU and is also working with a local NGO. Kunti has been selected in the Community College Initiative Program run by the US government’s bureau of educational and cultural affairs. The pro- gramme provides opportuni- ties to individuals from developing countries to acquire leadership and pro- fessional skills and get profi- ciency in English language while studying at a commu- nity college in the US. After spending an academic year there, Kunti will get a certifi- cate in her chosen field of study.

Talking about the scholar- ship, Kunti said, “Had some- one come and told me that I would be going to the US for a year when I joined Prerna Girls School in class 7, I would have never believed him. Sometimes we end up achieving something we thought was impossible.”

Principal of Prerna School Rakhi Panjwani said, “We run a school for underprivi- leged girls. When we accept- ed Kunti in our school, I knew straightaway that she was a special talent. Kunti went on to top class 8, 10 and then again she emerged the batch topper in class 12 as well.” However, beneath all the happiness there is a bit of apprehension. “I don’t know whether my mother will approve of this. She loves me too much to let me out of her sight for a year. I am still thinking about how to break the news to her,” Kunti added. Her elder brother and Kunti are the only two bread- winners in the family.

Kunti hopes she can live up to the faith people have in her. “I hope I perform well at the community college and make my teachers here and parents proud of me,” she added.

Talking about her future plans, Kunti said, “I want to come back and work for underprivileged girls like me.”

Hindustan Times Coverage