AFS Interstate Regional Class Exchange Program
By Usha Pandit, Volunteer from AFS Vadodara
“The roller coaster ride started when our school received a mail from the ‘AFS Intercultural Programs India’, stating that Choitram School, North Campus, Indore has shown keen interest in doing Domestic Class Exchange with our school (Anand Vidya Vihar, Vadodara).
Nine students of class 7 came forward for the exchange program. An orientation session for the same was organized for the interested students and their parents. This in fact was the first badge of students who took initiative and consented to host the students from Indore and to be their host brothers and sisters. One of the teachers Gayatri Chhapru too volunteered to host the students. The response was too encouraging. All the host families geared up to welcome the exchange students. A series of regular and continuous correspondence between the co-coordinators at both the ends finally materialized the exchange program and to witness making it happen was indeed a heartening experience. On 26th Aug 2017, ten students along with one escort teacher, Dipti Mishra arrived at Vadodara Junction. The Principal, Ms. Poornima Menon, The AFS coordinator, Usha Pandit, Gayatri Chhapru and the host families greeted them with the open arms. It was the day we began to learn to look through the eyes of others, to find out an experience what the world is like for them. It was also the day we grew bigger than our differences and offered everyone a friendly welcome, an outstretched hand.
The inaugural session witnessed lamp lighting ceremony, tika ceremony, welcome speech by Pratham Shah, prayer dance and speech by Usha Pandit, entailing brief description of AFS Interstate Regional Exchange Program and itinerary for the week. Children mingled with the AVVites quite well and didn’t take time to adopt and adapt the culture of Gujarat. They learnt the folk music, folk dance (Hudo) , mask making, jwellery making, block printing , yoga and marshal art. They relished Gujarati cuisine served in our school dining hall. Even the host parents organized mini trips to explore Vadodara. The exchange students learnt about our ‘Sanskari nagari’ Vadodara, during Vadodara darshan’ trip. They were mesmerized to see the architectural details of the magnificent Laxmi Vilas palace of Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad. The Ganapati Darshan at the Darbar Hall was the highlight of the day. The natural beauty of the Kamati garden, witnessing different animals and birds in the zoo by joy train ride, made them spellbound. The Ajwa sarovar and the Baroda Museum too were appreciated a lot. They were enjoying each and every moment of the trip.
The day when the morning assembly was being conducted by the exchange students our kids could learn their way of managing the activities in the assembly. They were quite confident when they conducted the quiz or when they spoke about the exchange program and their learning at A.V.V. In all they were good event managers.
Next was the Gujarat darshan, which gave them truly a glimpse of why Ahmedabad was chosen to be the UNESCO World Heritage City. Kankariya laka, Siddi Sayyed Mosque, Adalaj Vav, Gandhi Ashram, Indroda park and Akshardham were the places covered in this Heritage trip.
The exchange program culminated with a cultural evening wherein Rangla and Ranglee took the lead. It was indeed a pleasure to see the exchange students’ rendition of Gujarati prayer which they had learnt during their music class. They also performed Hudo ( the folk dance of Gujarat), yoga and the signature steps of Marshal art. We all could not resist ourselves and lauded them whole –heartedly. Dipti Mishra maam, Poornima maam and Usha Pandit shared our experiences and the importance of such the exchange program with the audience.
Children were awarded with the certificate for their active participation in the exchange program and the credo as a token of our love and affection. We also handed over our school newsletter- Footprints, and in turn Dipti ma’am too gave a gift on behalf of her school –Choitram , North Campus, Indore) to Poornima ma’am.
Time flies. Finally the departure day came. We hope to meet again, but this time in the city of Indore at Choitram North Campus School, in the month of December. The exchange program thus continues.”