Witty World

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Unforgettable visit and unforgettable lessons

Witty International School provides International learning opportunities to students to facilitate them to accept and understand the world that is a cauldron of composite cultures and community perspectives. It is through the International Exchange programmes that the School emboldens students to discover new ways of adaptability and learning to be able to be a part of the global world. As a global member of Eumind (Europe meets India), WIS has sent student and teacher delegations abroad, where interaction between our students and faculty members with others from different countries and cultures has opened up new dialogues with many International schools. WIS conducts Annual International Exchange Programmes which has been central for making young people embrace other cultures and to promote liberal-mindedness. 

This year the Dutch delegation consisting of 18 students and two teachers, Ms. Dian Jones & Mr. Michiel van den Broeck, from the famed bilingual RSG Broklede School, Netherlands visited Witty International School, Pawan Baug, Mumbai. RSG Broklede, a very unique institution firmly committed as a member to the Eumind, is located in the historic and very picturesque village of Breukelen in Netherlands. It offers bilingual education with emphasis on an intercultural ethos through the activities it undertakes. Since 2012, these two schools had developed strong connections, warmly working together on the field of student exchanges. This year’s exchange proved to be the most successful one thus far, in terms of educational value and level of understanding each other’s way of life. The combination of education, culture and entertainment was considered highly satisfactory to both students and teachers. The Dutch students attended regular lessons to experience Wittian School Life. They had interesting lessons on Yoga, Sanskrit, Art and Drama. The literary exchange led to a wider sharing of insights and perspectives, ranging from education systems, the role of religion and cultural traditions of marriage. A WIS faculty stated, “It’s a great opportunity to make these links through an International syllabus. The shared session with Dutch students enabled Wittians to articulate their ideas and opened new insights.”

 It was a stimulating and educational experience in more ways than one. For the educational part, WIS  had invited Mr. Dalip Sondhi, SIIDA to deliver a masterclass on Acting and Dramatics. Students also  attended workshops on Indian Theatre and Classical Indian Dance forms. The Dutch students also performed yoga and sang Christmas carols with tiny tots at Witty World. Throughout the week the Dutch and Indian students participated in various academic and cultural activities in school. They also participated in a football camp organized by a famed National football Player, Mr. Diago Fernandez which culminated into a fun match played by both the school teams, thus giving the Dutch Students an insight to Indian Sports Life. Wittians also put up an assembly in the school to present the Indian culture, festivals, folk dances, songs and so on to their hosts. The Wittians and Dutch students embarked on Mumbai Darshan to explore the most famous landmarks of this dream city which is a melting pot for various cultures. The students also had fun activities such as treasure hunts to familiarize them with the History, Art and Architecture at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya. The students also explored the wonder of Kanheri Caves and experienced the rise of Buddhism at this 2000 year-old settlement. With rock-cut carvings, old living quarters and stairways chiseled into the hill, students embarked on a nature trail into the wilderness of the Kanheri area. The programme culminated with a cultural night organized by the school wherein the Dutch and Indian Students performed a beautiful musical play on Kalidas’s famous, “Abhigyan Shakuntalam.” The play was a brilliant culmination of various languages such as English, Hindi, Sanskrit as well as Dutch and portrayed the simplicity and creativity in Indian Theatre. The Students also performed together on famous Bollywood songs which was an exciting experience for the host families who were invited for the cultural night. The Dutch students also  enlightened the Wittians about the Dutch culture, and they found great pleasure in discovering how similar Indian and Dutch cultures are to one another, especially in our conceptions of the family unit. 

 Finally the guests were felicitated with mementoes from WIS after which the guests and families enjoyed the evening further with a Garba DJ and the Mumbai Street food festival to enable the Dutch students and teachers to experience the famous food from the eateries in Mumbai. Stated Broklede student delegate Ferdi Tura: “This visit has been very fruitful for us because India is a large country, with a vast history and with a rich diverse culture. We see Witty best representing these historical and cultural idioms.” 

Wittian families hosted the Dutch students in their homes for seven days and through this process, they honed their hospitality skills as well as learnt to cook Indian food without spice! In an attempt to give their guests a taste of Indian culture, they let them live the joy and terror of an auto ride, went shopping for traditional sarees and kurtas, showed them around Bombay and described the nitty-gritties of the Indian way of life. Wittians also helped the Dutch Students to pick out souvenirs for their friends and family back home. The Dutch students were open to everything and at times, were more enthusiastic to learn about Indian customs. 

The final goodbye was a teary one; Though the Wittians had hosted them for a mere seven days, but over the course of those seven days, they knew that they had made friends for life. The Dutch Students’ zeal to explore every nook and cranny of our cultural lattice, their accommodating nature and enthusiasm and the alacrity with which they approached a foreign country and a new lifestyle was highly inspiring. Clearly, the Broklede team would be carrying back with them wonderful memories, all memories bathed in unforgettable colours.
 Says Pieters from Broklede poignantly: “This was indeed an opportunityof alifetime. If given a chance, we all would certainly come back to India, come back to Witty, the great school with a great heart.” 

Caught in this epicentre of excitement, Witty is not able to hide its emotions. Visibly humbled by such huge compliments, Witty has turned more introspective. Says Principal Bijo Kurian: “We feel more exchange programmes like this should help our school push its envelope further, climb new heights and conquer new frontiers. This programme has provided students with an exposure to become aware of multi-faceted approaches to learning and living. Students have developed the adaptability to embrace foreign cultures and have learnt liberal-mindedness.

For the visitors, it was undoubtedly a lesson in perpetual tranquillity, continuing education and ceaseless knowledge within an oasis of enlightenment surrounded by a sea of chaos in the outside world. And for the hosts, it was an exercise that is seen as something that should strengthen the bond between the two schools and the two countries. Broklede delegates sway their heads in agreement. And today, Broklede and Witty stand so much more committed to a firm friendship, a fruitful cultural association and a productive academic affinity. Says Witty’s Principal Kurian: “This experience should not only bring both the schools so much closer now, but ignite initiatives to draw both the schools and both the nations to a point of cultural convergence.” 

Certainly, there is something in those words that is worth thinking about.



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