Pupils from The Polesworth School have been to Jaipur in northern India on an exhange visit their partner school, Vidyashram.
International co-ordinator at The Polesworth School, Sharon Leftwich Lloyd says, "We believe that face-to-face contact has been crucial to the success of this link".
UK pupil, Katie, shares her experience of the first week of the trip during which she stayed with a host family in Jaipur:
At first, the thought of staying with a family was very daunting but as soon as I met my host, Joieta, and the other hosts I instantly felt at ease.
Throughout my stay, despite feeling slightly homesick at times, I had many brilliant experiences, one of which being celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of light.
The sight of the city during the celebrations was phenomenal and added a beautiful touch to and already wonderful place.
One of the scariest yet funniest experiences of the first week was going to school on an auto-rickshaw; despite being very bumpy I still found it a good laugh.
My favourite part of the in-school programme was the session in the fashion lab, where with the help of the fashion design students, I managed to sew a traditional scarf relatively successfully.
One of the things I found most different about India was the food as I am not used to such a range of different spices and flavours however once my taste buds had learnt to cope with the spice I began to really enjoy the things that were served to me.
Shopping in India, I found, is very different to that in the United Kingdom as many people were selling things on the street and were willing to barter prices, however I also found that on a positive note, there were many more traditional Indian shops in India than there are English shops in England which provided me with a wonderful taste of their true culture.
I also enjoyed visiting local temples and shrines on Diwali as well as the world famous monuments as it gave me a true insight into the lives on Indian people.
One of the things I found most challenging was coping with all the people looking at me and trying to coax me into buying items I didn't want, however all the hosts and teachers were very reassuring when I was in a situation with beggars and such like and managed to make me feel comfortable once again.
I think the experience has changed us all, and there have been some strong friendships made in the group as well as with our link school.
I could not be more grateful and hope we can provide an equally as good time for those visiting England.
How did they do this?
The partnership between The Polesworth School and Vidyashram was established in 2005. Sharon Leftwich-Lloyd, Internationalism and Development Education Co-ordinator for The Polesworth School, explains the aims behind their partnership as well as their exchange programme:
"Though we are 6840 kilometres apart we work together on a wide range of curriculum projects with our students exchanging work and learning from each other. Our agreed aims are: to make long lasting friendships; to develop an understanding of each other's culture; to engage in and resource curriculum projects meeting the requirements of either or both schools; to regularly participate in exchange visits for staff and students; to challenge myths and stereotypes and counter racism; to contribute to the spiritual growth of students from both schools; to work together towards the ideal of One World.
We also have a long standing commitment to a student exchange programme whereby 20 students travel to India one year and then host 20 students from India the next; there are professional development opportunities for the accompanying staff. All student travel is self-funded, on the out bound trip students spend one week at our partner school and then one week touring the golden triangle. On the in bound trip students spend one week with us and then spend one week touring other major cities in Europe.
The trips are organised in close consultation with our partners, during the time in Jaipur our partners set the programme which normally includes some time in school, some special educational activities (for example this year students undertook a textile project together) and some cultural activities. When the Indians come to us we plan their programme, this has the same structure and may include: day trips to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, special activities (for example a banner making competition and an Internaitonal themed day) and also time in school and some cultural activities (evening at the snowdome!)
We believe that face-to-face contact has been crucial to the success of this link."
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