LINKING TOGETHER, By RKK Jodhpur

 

Rajmata Krishna Kumari Public School  is in association with AFS India, a reputed & renowned organization, working together to provide Intercultural learning opportunities to the children. It has been a golden opportunity for the student body to go abroad for short or long term programs. Sending one student to Italy for a yearlong program in 2017 is our next step in preparing our students to be global citizens.

Hosting students under the aegis of AFS has become an integral part of RKK’s culture. For the session 2015-16, we warmly welcomed two students, Silvia Cunsolo from Italy & Julia Diane Marden from USA who were captivated by RKK’s magnificence, functioning, ethics and philosophy. In a year’s time they were completely blended into our culture & life style.

This session, 2016-17, we have Isabella Camargo and Arianna Viola from Italy as students of Class XI. Arianna Viola is enjoying her stay to the fullest as far as her learning, Intercultural relationships, stay with Host Family, stay in school and visits are concerned. Exchange Programs like these not only help students of RKK to connect to the world outside but also make some undying bonds that could be cherished. AFS has not only helped our students to develop keen interest in different countries but has also sensitized them towards certain issues, taught them to live independently & self–reliantly and developed a sense of understanding towards different cultures.

AFS has somewhere played a great role in teaching our students as to how to leave a positive mark behind wherever they go which in totality has added to RKK’s successive progress. Giving equal importance to both academics & co-curricular, our school teaches its students the importance of AFS and its activities where everyone is provided with opportunities to learn & face the obstacles in life, stay happy and positive throughout.

Captured Moments

Indore Community Service- Bonding with the kids at the Government School By Adrianne Pink (YES Abroad 2016-17)

At the beginning of January, I had the privilege of going to Indore for a week and participating in volunteer work. My fellow exchange students and I tiled, carried gravel, painted classrooms, and interacted with the kids. The last part was my favorite. While I was beyond grateful for the hospitality provided by our host families, being able to explore Indore, and the satisfaction of manual labor, I really bonded with the students at the school.

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Our first day at the site was spent carrying heavy plates to different rooms. The girls at the school could see us struggling so a bunch came over and helped fill in our little assembly line. That was when the work became more than just volunteering, but actually interacting with the students. We asked for each others names and ages, using the little Hindi I knew to try and start little conversations. As the days went on, we all got closer to one another and language was only a small barrier and any mistakes made were ones that we could easily laugh off.

At one point, I took out my video camera and asked a group of girls about their favorite food. The girls thought that I had said “phool” (Hindi for flower) so they named different flowers. When my turn came, I said pav bhaji.  That was the time when I got some weird looks but I could not understand why, but now I chuckle whenever I think about it. I became really close with those girls and genuinely enjoyed their company. By the end of the trip I was hanging out with the girls more than working, but it was worth it, and I can honestly say that I miss them.
I am so lucky to have been a part of this project and to have met so many amazing people. All parts of the trip were perfect, but meeting the students at the school will hold an extra special place in my memory.

 

Warmth of December by Anushree, An Indian student from Ahmedabad city hosted in Germany!

First of all I want to wish you all a very happy 2017. May this year bring more happiness and success into your lives!
The month of December was unbelievably exciting! Why?!? Because Christmas, new year and holidays were on the way and I was super excited to see what this month had got to serve me!
December had a great start!
My mentor, lena, came to visit me at my place for counseling and we had a little more fun by cooking lunch together!
Yup, we tried cooking something Italian and it was better than what I expected it to be .
Since Christmas and holidays were approaching there was a lot to do!
We planned dinner with our junior girls. we decorated the room with lights and prepared the food..!
That was a beautiful evening with too much fun!

Since I don’t have a host family and Christmas being such a beautiful festival, I got a host family just for Christmas!
I had to go to the city called Mönchen-Gladbach.  I cannot explain how happy I was to have them as my host family!
They were so welcoming and warm.
My host mother was so loving…! She was so happy to have me that she didn’t want me to leave!  But we promised to meet again!
They didn’t make me feel like a foreigner, instead made me feel at home! I miss them so much right now!

After a great Christmas Eve, next day morning we had visited my host dad , who LOVES cooking and there we were..Breakfast! And the table was so beautifully decorated with delicious food..! I definitely ate so much that day!
And that was the last day at my host family’s place.
Once again I got the advantage of being an AFSer. I was hosted by Rayan, who did his exchange year in Ahmedabad.
His parents were also very welcoming and they were also so happy to have me!
Lovely family and I made sure that they make a plan to visit India

YES, I found Indian tea in Brüssels,thanks to Rayan that he had Indian tea at home and I started my day by preparing tea for everyone at home and ohh that feeling of having tea after 5 long months was AMAZING!
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And this is me posing front of Beautiful palace…! I am in Love with Brussels!

Soon my trip was to be over and I had to be back home before 31st as
I had planned to celebrate 31st with my flat mate Polina from Russia!
We were invited by our neighbour. We prepared some Russian and Indian dish to take along with us!

That is me, my flatmate Polina and our neighbour Susaana, at her place!

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We had such good time together. I had made some pulao. They all loved it!
And later we did firework in front of the castle and enjoyed our drinks! With laughter, joy and lots of beautiful blessings!
And I had a great start to 2017

I still had few days free and so I decided to visit my host Grandma in Hamburg!

I visited her (Angela mom) and gave her Charkha as a Christmas present.
She absolutely loved it and 2 days we just kept talking and drank tea ….she is a lovely person, I’ll never forget her!

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As I took my train back to my home from Hamburg, me and Polina had planned that we will go eat something Indian! And since I’ve come to Germany, I hadn’t  tried anything Indian (in restaurants).. so this was a much needed and we were totally excited
Just as I reached Münster, we went straight to this restaurant called “little Buddha” and oh how tasty the food was…I was more than happy to go there and try dal – Rice – Papad – curry – mango lassi..WOW!
Here we are sitting at the restaurant and of course a beautiful picture of beautiful plate filled with happiness.

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The place looks more beautiful and serene! And now my holidays are over and soon I’ll be back to my work.And again I’m excited to witness what surprises January has in store for me!

Have a great time!

Second Home By Hannah Schwarz

I knew I was on the cusp of one of life’s major moments as I passed through the arrivals door at India Gandhi Airport in 2010.  I was seventeen years old and  had  moved to Delhi as an NSLI-Y exchange student to engage in a cultural immersion and Hindi study at Amity International School, Noida.  It became clear during my first days of India’s sweltering summer that the next ten months would encompass incredible challenge, experience, and growth.  Yet I was unaware that my exchange would be the single most formative experience in my life thus far.

I came to adopt “bohot,” translating to so much, as a way to understand India during my exchange.  Everything from people’s generosity to the spectrum of realities I witnessed during my bus ride to school was overwhelming.  Living in Delhi was a sensory experience-a medley of color, aroma, masala, heat, set to an unending soundtrack of car horns.  Life became a lesson in vibrancy.  However, it was only after returning to the United States that I realized I didn’t necessarily possess the tools to understand the entirety of my experience at the time of my exchange.  I continued to unpack and reflect on those ten months for years after I left India, particularly when I went to college and explored themes related to social structure, inequality, and race.  Although my former life was years and continents away,  India stayed with me and served as a point around which I developed my worldview.  But as the potency of my days began to recede into memory, the affection I felt for my life and family in Delhi transformed into a subtle biting in my stomach.  I was second-homesick.

The first time I left India I made many promises; “Call me for shaadi,” “I will come back in four years.”  After graduating from college and some unexpected twists in life I had the opportunity to give fullness to those words and return to India.  I had been gone for six years and had sporadically kept in contact with friends and family, if at all, yet upon landing I felt the embrace of familiarity.  Delhi was not new to me, but a city as intense as Dehli may never be wholly familiar in itself.  Instead I felt an overwhelming sense of family.  Although we had spent many years away, in those first moments with my host mother, father, and sister I knew I was second-home.

These past months in India have been vastly different from my exchange.  I spent two months working in a sustainable agriculture and biodiversity internship outside Dehradun.  I rode buses to the end of the road, seeing rivers wind around mountains and whip around the contours of massive hills in pursuit of Himalayan peaks.  I spent time in Dharamsala and McCleod Ganj to attend a teaching from the Dalai Lama and even had a “bougie” clubbing experience during a night out in Goa.  I have felt such gratitude for those invigorsting moments in which I was living something I dreamed about as a child.  However the experiences and feelings that have been most affirming weren’t centered on new adventure, instead they have had everything to do with that which remained.

Returning to India and spending time with my host mother, father, and sister has been the continuance of a beautiful gesture of family.  I wouldn’t trade a moment of lounging in bed with my host-grandmother hearing her stories of various Hindu Gods and her advice regarding my (ever-distant) future in-laws, for a private audience with the Dalai Lama.  It is those experiences of connection, love, and passage of knowledge that changed me so many years ago.

I know I will continue to process in the months and years to come, much as I did after my first trip to India.   I am sure I will look back on this trip and think about the limits of my current awareness.  Yet it is this  opportunity to forever grasp, experience, and quest for more that gives India its boundlessness.  All of which is essential in the exceedingly beautiful process of discovering a place, and within that, more intimately knowing yourself.

 

National Pre-departure Orientation

AFS India National Event

Conducted in New Delhi- 14th June 2016

PDO

Our 2016 batch of Young ambassadors came together to attend the PDO Camp in Delhi. It was a 4 days camp in Delhi and this year where we had total of 59 students participating in the same. 40 students has been shortlisted to go to USA on YES program while 19 students to Germany, Belgium Flanders, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Canada, France, Czech Republic, Switzerland and USA on AFS program.

The orientation was conducted by 3 IND staffers along with 2 AFS-YES Alumni, Yashodhan Shende&Surbhi Bhat. The sessions focused on setting the student’s expectation from the program, AFS Rules and communication channel, Iceberg concept of culture and tips for adapting in new culture, DIVE model, Communications Styles, Journaling, Etiquettes, Indian Traditions & Religious Matters, Stereotypes & Generalizations, Learning Objectives from Participants, Budgeting and Being an ambassador.

During this orientation, sessions were done while keeping in mind the concepts of Intercultural Learning. In this orientation, new methodologies and techniques were adopted to carry out the sessions which made participants interact and take active part in group activities and energizers.

We had officials from American Center, Matthew K. Asada, First Secretary for Exchanges and Education and JP Das, Country Exchanges Advisor, Public Affairs Office, at the orientation. They interacted with the participants, shared adjustment tips and talked about the value of exchange program. We’re thankful to American Center officials for joining us.

One of the highlight of the orientation was the talent show where participants from various cities came together to showcase Indian culture and tradition. It was a successful orientation as it was a learning experience for all the participants.

YES Re-Entry Orientation

AFS India National Event

Conducted in New Delhi-18th June, 2016

Group of 37 students were welcomed at the Delhi airport on 17th June. AFS India staffers received them at the airport and the students stayed in Delhi till 20th June evening and attended a re-entry orientation.

The orientation was facilitated by AFS-IND staffers. The orientation sessions mainly focused on reflecting on their experiences, dealing with reverse cultural shock, weaving AFS experience in participants’ life, intercultural learning concepts (communications styles, DIVE, ice-berg & cultural dimensions), common challenges & solutions with the tips for re-adjustment in the family, school and society. One of the highlights of the orientation were when participants got to read Dear Me letters which they wrote a year back and also saw the Before/After presentation of how they have changed in looks. It was a great way to make them realize the change that took place over a year gap.

On 20th June, the students also had the chance to meet and share their experiences with the US embassy officials at American Center. They had the chance to meet Matthew K. Asada, First Secretary for Exchanges and Education and JP Das, Country Exchanges Advisor, Public Affairs Office, Shailey Tucker, Cultural Affairs Assistant – Alumni Outreach and Programs, and official running English Language Program. The interaction with the officials made the participants realize the value of being YES Alumni and how they can use the resources that are available for them upon their return back home. The officials interacted with the participants, shared adjustment tips and talked about their responsibility as global citizen. We’re thankful to American Center officials for taking out time and meeting with the participants.

We wish the newly YES graduates good luck. We look forward to seeing them get engaged and participate in various activities. We’re thankful to the chaperone, Frank Bush, for being there and taking care of participants throughout the journey.

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US Girls Scout Program

Participants in India-16th July, 2016

The first edition of US Girls Scout Program was conducted successfully from 16th -30th July. US Girls Scout Program is a 2 weeks Community Service Program that offers a unique opportunity to the participants to work at an Education Center for Street Children.

AFS India facilitated the program with an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization named Salaam Balak Trust that provides support, care and protection to street and working children of Delhi and NCR. The main objective of this organization is to provide sensitive and caring environment to the street children, imparting knowledge and skills that would motivate them to do something meaningful in their lives, thus enabling them to be responsible citizens of the country.

The 4 participants along with their Chaperone arrived in Delhi on Saturday, 16 July 2016. During the program, they were all engaged in conducting classes for street children belonging to the below poverty section of the society. The participants prepared lessons on Basic English, Mathematics, and General Education, with a non-traditional and informal education teaching methodology along with extracurricular activities. They also conducted sessions on art and drawing. Their main focus was on making the children understand the value the education that is imparted at the center. In addition to this, the participants were given a chance to witness few colorful traits of Indian Culture, in terms of Cooking demonstration, Indian dance forms, Yoga and Heena classes.

The four participants of the program were: Elizabeth Wakefield, Emma George, Madeleine Gapusan, and Virginia Keenan. Elena Gonzalez, staff from AFS USA was Chaperone of the group.

The program also included visit to the Majestic Taj Mahal, Agra and a day tour of Delhi, national capital of India.

Girls Scout Program

Quotations:

“I loved our community service project; It was eye opening. I will return to America a different person. I loved the trips we went to Agra and the sights of Delhi, they were well organized and fun.”– Virginia

“My favourite was definitely working with Salaam Balak Trust. The food was good as well as the accommodation. The activities we did were also interesting, but I wish we did more and more sightseeing. Perhaps more time with the kids during the day.” Madeleine

“The program was great ! I loved my host family. They were really cool. I also liked Salaam Balak Trust. I wish there had been opportunity to play sports that are popular in India like Cricket or Field Hockey. Otherwise, I felt that this was a very informative trip because I was exposed to a lot of culture.” -Elizabeth

Principals’ Meet-2016

Organised in Jamshedpur

AFS is committed to providing intercultural learning experience that help people become agents of positive change in the world. Thus, AFS India organised Principals’ Meet for the first time in Eastern part of the Country – Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity where Jamshedpur Schools would learn & gain insights into the workings of AFS Intercultural Programs India and its various Exchanges.  The Meet focused on the exclusive benefits that the School, Students and others derive from the Intercultural Learning through International Exchanges provided by AFS India. The opportunity for Schools, AFS India and its programs were both insightful and enlightening. AFS is a 100 year old organisation and still growing, which proves that intercultural learning is need of today’s world. The Principal’s took away some useful insights and were happy to be associated with AFS. With this meet, we hope to provide intercultural learning opportunities to various schools, and look forward to having an engaging and fruitful association with all.20160707_121747

My First Month In India

Written By- Anna Zanoli

It’s been a month since I arrived.

But has it been JUST or has it been ALREADY?

Now, let me explain before I decide,

How it is to not be ready.

Well, actually, you think

you are prepared

But as soon as you open your eyes, after a wink

You’ll see things that thinking you never dared.

And it’s a shock

at first, at least. But then

Everything, in your heart you will lock,

For you like it in a way that can’t be said by the pen.

I’ve been drinking tea,

In a day twice at least!

And I have seen the sea,

And eaten food during feast.

Here people love sitting on the floor,

and share everything in a whole new way!

They wouldn’t like that much to see a closed door,

For they like to be here, there and wherever may.

Even all those letters that at first I couldn’t understand

Now with a little practice and time

are starting to make sense

Line after line Continue reading

National Arrival Orientation

For NSLI Program Participants-2016

Conducted in Delhi

The Arrival Orientation for NSLI-Y Year & Summer Intensive Program was successfully conducted in New Delhi with 22 participants, 4 AFS IND staff & also their local coordinator/counselor. The participants were from USA who arrived to India on 2nd July with their Chaperone. The focus was to prepare the participants for the expected cultural shock with realistic and unrealistic expectations as per the duration of their program. The sessions were aligned to ensure that the participants have practical tips which will help them in reducing higher expectations in order to adapt better more collaterally.

The participants were given the knowledge of the cultural specific examples of the host family setting and the host school. They were oriented on the topics of risk management & line of communication. In addition, the orientation session was undertaken clearly on AFS rules, travel & medical rules. On 3rd July evening, they departed to Indore, their host chapter by train to reach thereby the next morning to the desired destination.

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