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Porter’s in India

Welcome to the 19-20 Porter’s in India Blog!

We are getting excited for this 11th grade InterMission class to begin their incredible journey to Rishikul Vidyapeeth Sonepat School and Vidya Devi Jindal School in India!

You can expect to receive updates once daily on this blog. Please keep in mind that the time in India will be 10.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time so the postings may not happen on a schedule that makes sense in your time zone. This blog is the place to find pictures, videos and reflections from students and faculty on the trip, as well as to receive daily updates about the group’s activities and experiences. We are asking our faculty trip leaders to post all materials so that students can be present for every moment and so that they will not worry about posting to the blog in a timely manner.

We also strongly encourage you to keep contact with your children to a minimum during the immersion, which will allow them to fully experience the life and community of the school. Emailing periodically is a great way to touch base with without disrupting their experiences in school and other activities. We strongly discourage texting and phone calls for the duration of this cultural immersion.

It is going to be a FANTASTIC experience for all and we look forward to sharing it with you on this blog.

Wheels Up!

The R&VDJS group is en route! After a mid-afternoon departure from Farmington, they arrived at Newark with time for some food and rest before boarding their United Airlines UA82 flight for Delhi. They were all smiles as they settled into their seats for a long flight.

RVDJS Departure Bus
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The group departed at around 9PM EST and is due to arrive in Delhi on FRI 1/10 at 9:30PM (FRI 1/10 at 11:00AM EST). I will update this blog once the group has arrived in Incheon.

Stay tuned!

Arrival In-Country!

After traveling for nearly 20 hours, the group has finally arrived in-country! Everyone is tired but happy to finally be there. The moved through customs, picked up some last minute items, and traveled by shuttle bus to their the hotel in Delhi!

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The group will get some much needed shut eye this evening before being greeted by their new friends from Rishikul Vidyapeeth Sonepat School. They will board a bus for School and full day of welcome and activities. Stay tuned for more pictures and updates!

Good Morning from India

Breakfast in Delhi
Breakfast in Delhi

Hello from our hotel in Delhi. After our night arrival last night we headed for a hotel for our first night in India. This morning we woke up rested and ready for our experience in this country. We have been here for only a few short hours, but we are starting to feel the warmth of the people and to enjoy the beauty of the place.

It’s almost 10 am here, and in a few minutes we will be picked up by the bus that will take us to the Rishikul Vidyapeeth School, about two hours from the city, where we will meet our hosts. We can’t wait!

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Day One: Reflection

Day One: Arrival at Rishikul

We woke up in our hotel refreshed and rested and ready to meet our hosts at Rishikul Vidyapeeth school. After a two hour bus ride in the busy Delhi traffic we were greeted at the school by school administrators and our host students.

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Immediately after we became the guests of honor in a very warm welcome assembly, during which we were greeted by this community of more than two thousand students.

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We also had a welcome tea with administrators during which we learned about the school, their global commitments and we shared about our school and our goals for our trip.

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Afterwards we played some basketball and had dinner to end a very full first day.

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Today we will be visiting Akshardham Temple, India Gate, the War Memorial and Rashtrapati Bhawan. We’ll be sure to update our blog with our experiences there!

Day Two: Delhi

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Incredible day today in Delhi. After a hearty breakfast at Rishikul we immersed ourselves in the chaotic, yet inexplicably organized local traffic to go into the city for a day of sightseeing.

We spent the morning visiting the Akshardan Temple. In this temple visitors are not allowed to bring any phones or cameras, which made the visit even more special. Here we admired the intricate sculptures and structures, and learned about Indian mythology, religion, art, and values. We also learned about the life and legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a yogi and religious figure who has inspired millions of people in a path of peace and joy.

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In the afternoon we visited some of the Indian government official buildings, we also walked around the India Gate and saw the changing of the guard at the War Memorial.

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We returned to the school exhausted after a long day in the city, and we are very excited about our day at school tomorrow. Our schedule includes a whole morning interacting with the middle school students. We can’t wait!

Day Three: Getting to Know Rishikul

Today, we spent most of the day on campus getting to know our hosts better. In the morning we visited the Middle School wing. We first interacted with the 6th and 7th graders as they introduced us to their research in technology, from 3D printing to electronics.

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Then we went to their gymnasium where they had prepared for us a fun interactive showcase of many of the activities that they practice at the school, both academic and non-academic. We saw and practiced different types of art making, we cooked, we danced, we practiced traditional games. Everything was a lot of fun, but the highlights were dancing in the local traditional costumes and henna design. Our hosts taught us how to dance and they also drew their traditional designs in our hands with henna. It was a very close time with our hosts and we enjoyed every activity.

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In the afternoon, we saw work by the 9th and 10th graders. We saw their History, Hindi, English, Math, Bio and Physics classes. In each of them we saw demonstrations of learning in those subjects, it was an opportunity to see how our lives are not that different in terms of academics.

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Our day continued with a visit to the Sonipat market, a very vibrant and busy market, full of life and activity.

On our way back we even had time to see a horse show performed by the Rishikul Equestrian team, right before we rode another bus into town for dinner at a local pizza restaurant.

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It was another full day of activities and we are loving every minute. We are looking forward to another full day tomorrow, and we are planning to see the elementary school students. We will let you know!

Reflections

Day Three: Reflection

Day Four: School Community

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The Rishikul school community welcomed our students with open arms and opened every corner of its campus to us from the first minute. This morning we visited the Preschool and Elementary school wing, where we were again received with a fantastic demonstration of hospitality.

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During our visit to the Primary Wing we first celebrated Lohri, which is a winter solstice celebration and danced around the fire. We also danced and played games that the students had prepared for us.

We then visited classes in all levels. We interacted with the preschoolers, saw science demonstrations from the elementary school level students, learned alongside the students in English class and received some education about India’s national symbols.

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Immediately after, we participated in the 28th anniversary of the founding of the school celebration, with a potluck lunch with faculty and administrators.

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In the afternoon we learned a Bollywood Dance and in the evening we had another party celebration with our host students. They welcome us into their dorm and we all danced together and spent some time getting to know each other.

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We finished our day having delicious Indian dinner at a famous local restaurant. We returned to the school tired but very excited after a day packed with activities and fun. Tomorrow we are looking forward to going into the city again for more sightseeing. We will update with news of our activities.

Day Five: Visit to Delhi

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Today we visited Delhi again. Delhi is a vibrant, busy city that combines tradition and modernity. All the extremes collide in this chaotic and mesmerizing city. We see old historic buildings next to new modern ones. Clean new shopping malls next to ruined buildings. Extreme poverty next to luxury cars. Delhi’s charm lies largely in its contrasts.

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Our first visit in the city was to Gandhi’s memorial. It was a quiet memorial where we reflected about Gandhi’s impact in the world and his legacy.

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We then visited the Modern Art Museum of Delhi. We spent some time admiring the works of Indian artists in the past two centuries. We had lunch in a busy restaurant downtown and visited the Red Fort before returning to campus.

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Today was our last full day at Rishikul, before we head for the second part of our trip at the VDJS School in Hisar. We had dinner at the house of Chairman S K Sharma, where we had the opportunity to thank him for the incredible experience we are having at this school. We are being hosted with great care and everyone at the school is demonstrating the most loving hospitality towards us, we are very fortunate to be connected to this community.

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Day Five Reflection

Day Six: Thank you Rishikul! And Hello VDJS!

It was with a lot of sadness that we left Rishikul in the morning. We spent our last few hours at the school with our friends at the school. We first had a debriefing and feedback session with school administrators. During this session we reflected about our experience at Rishikul and shared with the school about the experience, so we can improve the exchange for future students coming here.

After our feedback session we dedicated the rest of the morning to spend time with our host students at the school. The girls say that the best part of the experience is by far the connection with our hosts.

In the afternoon we took a three hour ride in the beautiful Haryana countryside to go to VDJS, the school that will be our home for the rest of our stay.

VDJS is an all-girls school, and as soon as we set foot on campus we could feel the familiar sisterhood vibe. Our girls were greeted by their host students and quickly left to find their rooms and get themselves organized in their new rooms.

We are very grateful for all the experiences we are having on this trip. It was hard to leave Rishikul after the great time we have spent there and we were sad to wave our friends goodbye there. We look forward to maintaining that connection as we enter a full new experience at VDJS. We will sure update our blog with our experiences.

Some Photos from VDJS

We couldn’t upload photos on our previous posting, but here are some of our home for the next few days!

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India: Clean Schools

One of the challenges that India faces today is pollution. India, a developing country with over 1.3 billion people, suffers the impact of contamination in many ways.

Both our partner schools here take the problem of pollution and its impact on the environment very seriously. You can tell that it’s something that matters to them because the signs of their commitment are everywhere.

Not only do we see student projects and signs around campus reminding all to be environmentally conscious, but both Rishikul and VDJS have taken bold steps to demonstrate their commitment to a sustainability and a clean planet. Both schools have their own water treatment plants, which means that they clean their own waste water before it is released. Additionally, VDJS is a no-plastic school. The school uses no plasticware, no plastic bottles and no plastic products whenever possible. It is very impressive how these schools are taking actual steps to do their part for a cleaner and more sustainable country and planet. One more thing we are learning while we are here.

Learning about traditional Indian life in Haryana

Santi and Ana report that the group spent the day at an ethnographic park with their host students in Haryana. They learned about traditional life in the region by sampling many different types of food, taking dance lessons, participating in a ropes course, watching puppet theater performance, getting Henna painted on them, and other amazing activities with their host sisters. What a marvelous day!

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Reflection: VDJS and Pratagarh Park

Cultural Day in Sirsa

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Sunday we were on the road again for another beautiful and interesting day. We drove over two hours away in the beautiful Haryana countryside to visit the family of one of our host students. Her parents opened for us their family house and prepared a welcome event for our group. They showed us their house and the views of Mitthi Sureran, their beautiful time. We were able to have a snapshot of what rural life is in this part of the country.

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They also prepared for us many different types of traditional foods. Everything was so tasty and prepared with so much care. We even saw how some of our favorite breads are made, it was a real feast for our group. We are very thankful to the family of Mansha for the warm welcome.

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On our way back we stopped at Kanya Gurukul Dobhi, a school for girls where VDJS does community service regularly. The girls at the school presented a beautiful dance performance for us.

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Today was again a day full of activities and again we were the recipients of the amazing love, warmth and attention of our hosts. Tomorrow we will be spending the day in classes and we will update our blog with our latest experiences.

Taj Mahal

We have been expecting this day since the beginning of our trip, and the moment was finally here. After a six hour bus ride from VDJS we finally arrived to the city of Agra where we had the opportunity to see the Taj Mahal, a masterpiece of Muslim art and a temple considered one of the Wonders of the World.

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The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built in the 1600’s by a Moghul king for his favorite wife. We arrived here in the late afternoon and spent about two hours walking around the area, taking hundreds of pictures, and enjoying fully this jewel of world art.

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The visit to the Taj Mahal is the perfect ending for our trip to India. Tomorrow morning we will start our journey back to Delhi where we will say goodbye to our VDJS friends and to this charming land. In the late evening we will board our flight back to the US. We are sad to leave our new friends here, but we also look forward to seeing our friends and family back home so we can share everything that we have learned and experienced in India.

Wheels up! Journey to Farmington

The group is en route to Farmington! After a nice breakfast, the group took a long ride from Agra to Delhi.

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Once the group had lunch and said goodbye to their new friends, they made it to Delhi Airport with enough time for some snacks and rest.

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They have boarded their United UA83 flight and will depart at 11:45PM local time (1:15PM EST) on WED 1/22 for Newark Airport.

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The group is due to arrive in New Jersey at 4:35AM EST on THU 1/23!

Touch down at Newark and en route to Farmington!

At last! The group landed at Newark Airport in New Jersey, traveled through customs, and boarded the bus to head back to Porter’s.

We hope they made memories to last a lifetime!