Tuesday, April 19, 2011

U.S. students on a discovery of India

To learn more about Indian culture and experience it first-hand, a group of 15 students from the U.S. landed in New Delhi on Monday. During their 12-day stay in the country, the students from California's Mount Madonna School (MMS) will visit places like Haridwar, Amritsar and Dharamsala besides meeting U.S. Ambassador Timothy Roemer and some Lok Sabha Members of Parliament.

The trip, known as Vidya Dharma (Path of Knowledge) project, is part of the school's two-year 'Values in World Thought' programme, an innovative high school social studies curriculum developed by MMS faculty member and trip leader Ward Mailliard.

"For each student, it will be a significant outer journey to another culture where they will experience a civilization that is far older and significantly different in almost every way from what they know --- different in language, history, values, food, religion and social customs. At the same time, it will be a unique inner journey for each student to discover something about themselves as they engage in the many unique experiences of the journey," said Mr. Mailliard.

In Haridwar, the Mount Madonna students will meet children at the Sri Ram orphanage and school. Later, they will go to Amritsar to visit the famed Golden Temple and also the Jallianwala Bagh. Their next destination will be the Tibetan Children's Village School at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh where they will also meet the Dalai Lama. The journey will culminate in Gurgaon where they will meet students of Heritage School.

"It is impossible to predict what each student will learn on this journey, but it is a surety that they will learn more about themselves and about another culture on this trip than they ever could from years in the classroom. This journey is part of a continuing experiment in what can happen when we create open context for learning, in which the student simply learns what they are ready to learn," said Mr. Mailliard.

Informing that a significant aspect of the journey process is the "return" which will be held at Mount Madonna School on May 20 when parents and friends can hear first-hand from the students about their experiences, Mr. Mailliard said: "This project is intentionally designed to prepare students about the larger journey of life, and to provide a context for them to develop skill sets that will be useful in negotiating the ‘unexpected turns in the road' that are part of the human experience."

Source: The Hindu, April 19, 2011

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