By Swagata Ganguly, To Russia

“I got associated with this amazing organisation in the year 2012 through an exchange programme to the city of Cheboksary, Russia .

Being a daughter of an Defence person traveling to places, making new friends and adapting the various diversities of the different states of India since childhood was my habit, but after marrying a civilian and picking up profession of a teacher, I thought traveling would stop .Thanks to my Principal, Ms. Seema Jerath and AFS India, because of whom, I am a proud owner of a title “Marcopolo of DLFPS”.

My amazing journey of International Exchange Programs taught me many exciting things. My first awestruck experience was at my host family at Cheboksary when I came across her pet cat using the human toilet for pooping! I found my eyes stretching wide like big marbels. The space museum, the tractor museum, the Russian ballet dance, the gymnastics at the Russian schools, the thousand kinds of soups and Russian salads were few more exciting things out of many wow moments. My three weeks stay in Russia made me fall in love with that amazing country. Although it is a land of snow a very cold place but we found the Russians so warm-hearted, so loving , so accommodating. AFS  truly proved that the language of  love and compassion has no national boundaries & has no national language. We proudly named the exchange programs as “Wheel Of Friendship” and on November, 2017, we successfully rolled the 7th Round of the same program. Thank you AFS India.

We hosted two Italian students for year-long programs and the groups of 10 students twice for English Language Learning Programs, and then we got the opportunity to visit Italy in September, 2017.

My heart-warming achievement in Italy was Venice the city on water, when four of our Italian students specially traveled from far off places just to be with us at Venice.They narrated stories of Roman empire and we visited Realto bridge and bridge of Sigh mentioned in the play of Shakespeare Merchant of Venice, the story of Gondolas, and story of National Emblem of Venice as winged lion walking through the Colosseum of Rome.

My achievement was to meet Pietro Ficco who was here for an year long program at Verona. His mother drove 350 kms to pick me up to spend a weekend at Verona where we went to see the famous Juliets villa of the play Romio and Juliet from where she took me to the Gelatino factory where world’s first ice-cream was invented.

My proud moment was when Pietro’s family especially organised “Lunch of Honour”along with his all cousins and other relatives because his teacher had come to see him from India.

Another beautiful moment was when my host sister Ms Elena took me to her meditation centre at Padova, and to my surprise I found they were chanting “OM” and singing Bhajans while playing harmonium. The disciples were followers of Guru Nitya Nanda who has his centre at Noida.

After all this sharing, let me conclude by a hilarious piece of learning by my effort of Googling in the Italian toilet trying to figure out why there were two pots in one toilet? Finally gathering information about the second pot called biget was a kind of washtub to clean oneself. I remember spending 45 mins in the toilet with the mobile-phone reading about biget.

OMG! I think i should actually start writing travel logs and get them published. I have learnt so much and gathered so much due to this exchange program. I feel my entire education in school and collage is nothing before the learning I have gathered due to these trips.

These international trips have made me a confident person. Now, I can travel anywhere in the world. I have friends in Cheboksary, Moscow Russia.

I have friends in Switzerland whom I met in Russia. She was an exchange program student. I have friends in Venice, Verona, Padova, and many such places across the globe. AFS actualizes the vision mission of DLF Public School”Creating Global Citizens Of the World For The World”

Now few anecdotes and success stories of students who were active members of such exchange program.

Gul Mehra – The student icon of DLF Public School who traveled to Thailand, Dubai, Russia then Italy. She at this age is pursuing Interior Decorations course at Maharani Bagh Polytechnic but has her own Indian store at Italy and Russia.She started this with the help of her host family. Not only did she went for an exchange program, but it was further continued by her parents and her Russian & Italian family visit to India.

Another success story is of Sanya Arora who is in England now pursuing her 11th Grade as an exchange student for year long program.

As a teacher I have gained experiences abroad, but there are all those host families and teachers who have hosted and have had amazing experiences.

Ms. Sudipa Bandopadhya who hosted Otoha from Japan is already set to visit Tokyo at the coming Olympics. Otoha’s parents won a quiz on India in Japan because of the series of Skype sessions and sharing of knowledge during her stay.

Ms. Gargi Dutta Biswas hosted Alice Tormen who is earning good salary & saving money in Italy by decorating hands using Mehendi tattoos which she learnt here in school.

I think I can go on & on like the stories of Sindbad the Sailor The fact that  I am writing this piece at 3 a.m. depicts the magic of AFS. THANK YOU AFS & DLFPS for such enriching experiences.”