Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cultural Immersion Day 4 and 5

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Day 4
We had breakfast and set off on an hour long trip to a small isolated village. In the village, we experienced extraordinary activities relating to the traditional Indian culture. We were first welcomed by the village chief who gave us more information on the lifestyle of the locals living in the area. We were also introduced to some authentic folk dance whereby the dancers used a local instrument and they taught us how to do some simple dance steps.  We danced as a group by modelling the steps the dancers used and we really enjoyed dancing to the fast beat of the music played by the dancers using their traditional instrument.

A relative of the village chief demonstrated to us the construction of a ‘ kolam’.
Kolam creation plays a very significant role in the lives of the Indians as the design drawn at the entrance of the house signifies goodness and invites prosperity to their home. The intricate designs were drawn using rice flour. We were captivated by the precision, accuracy, dexterity and speed as the kolam was created.  We were invited to create our own simple ‘kolams’ and we eagerly tried it out. 
What interested us the most during the village visit was the bullock cart ride. Everyone was very enthusiastic to take a ride on the cart pulled by two cows. The cows brought us throughout the small village to see different houses and agriculture. However, during the short trip we were greeted by the ‘violent’ discharge of waste matter from the bulls. Some of us were stained while others made out untouched. Overall, it was a funny and interesting experience for all of us as we wiped the stain away with wet wipes.

One interesting fact to take note would be the innovative idea of theirs which involved the natural waste of cows and bulls being used as natural fertilisers, resulting in less pollution of the soil and helps with the organic growth of the plants.

Next, we went to the Mahabalipuram which is a historical monument nearby Chennai.  The tour guide gave us a lot of information regarding the history of this UNESCO World Heritage site. This was built by the Pallava’s of the famous Mahabharata epic, in the 7th century AD.  These monuments were carved out of a single rock and we were fascinated looking at the architecture and the beauty of the carved sculptures.  We wondered at the technology the sculptors had used in those days. We drew to a conclusion that even in the past the technology used in those days were advanced as it had produced such outstanding monuments for us to marvel at.  We also realized that the people were very innovative, creative and had great appreciation for the arts.

We had a lunch at the Heritage Mamalipuram restaurant. It was a buffet lunch and all of us liked the ‘chapatti’ and ‘pappadam’ and these were the first items to run out.

After having our lunch we went to the Butter Ball monument where a large boulder was situated at the edge of the hill. We were challenged to run up the hill without placing our hands on the walls and attempt  to push down the boulder, until we realized that the boulder was immensely colossal. We slid down the hillside multiple times and had a lot of fun playing on the natural slide!
Next on our itinerary was a visit to the Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. We took a short walk there barefooted, as well as without our trusty gadgets. It was an interesting experience as we had to maintain total complete silence.  We then headed to the beach to take a relaxing stroll along the shore. We also put some time aside to bask in the breeze on the rocky seaside after which we headed back to the bus to get on our way to the hotel.

We ended our day with a hearty meal at the hotel restaurant filled with exotic dishes.

Sunday, 9th November 2014

Day 5

Today we went to Auroville which is a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity. We viewed the Matrimandir in a nearby viewpoint as it requires special permission to enter the infrastructure. The Matrimandir symbolizes a lotus and has twelve leaves representing twelve qualities which are as follows: Goodness, Progress, Receptivity, Aspiration, Perseverance, Gratitude, Humility, Sincerity, Peace, Equality, Generosity and Courage. We felt that these were qualities we should all possess.

After our trip there we went to the Dhakshinchitra which is a heritage village where the unique lifestyle of Indians is revived based on their states. We took  a tour around Dakshinchitra visiting all the heritage homes; try art and craft activities; play traditional games; and view exhibitions that explain some of the rich traditions of the different states in India. 

We have captured some special memories of this visit and do enjoy viewing them  as we firmly believe that a picture says a thousand words!

Being in harmony with nature allows us to find peace and attain our goal in life = self-realization
- Xavier Ong 

Friends at first sight!
- Sophia Koh

Appreciation - Treasure- Happiness
- Hafizan

 Nothing is impossible. Even a rock can balance itself at the edge of the slope. Why can't we? We should be able to balance between our studies and other personal commitments.
- Andy Goh

United as one for a shared learning experience.
- Chang Yi Ting

Bravery - To communicate with each other!
- James Lai

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday, 7 November 2014

After a hearty breakfast, we set off to Velemmal Higher Matriculation School. We received a warm welcome from the the students and staff. They applied 'kumkuma' and 'saffron' on our forehead as it is believed that this allows the humankind to open spiritually to the Divine. Thus they have been applied there as it is believed by Indians to be the most holy.

After the greetings, we went to their classrooms and experienced how the school conducts their lessons. We were amazed by their Mathematics lessons as the teacher was able to calculate complicated equations with ease. Their classrooms were much much smaller compared to the ones in Singapore and they used a blackboard and chalk instead of our usual usage of whiteboards and markers. The teacher also explains in clear detail references to real life scenarios which was a very huge impact to us all.

After observing these interesting lessons, we were all invited to another room to taste the variety of traditional  Indian sweets  that are prepared during festivals and special occasions, from all the different states of India. They served these sweets on a long banana leaf and we were appreciative of their hospitality. From our experience, we realised that the Indians truly lived to the principle of  Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning "the guest is God", as explained by the teachers from the Indian school.

Next, we were treated to an enchanting dance performance by the students. They performed the different forms of dances from the various states of India. After that we played traditional games of India.  We also had a good time interacting with the students from the school and exchanging our experiences. 

Student reflection:

As I entered the home, I saw the 39 girls and I was really amazed by their confidence and happiness. I am really honored to attend and be present at such an amazing place. Despite the challenges these young kids face, I can see that these kids have a  happy and positive mindset. This experience has made a great impact on me and I have realized that, I must develop a positive mindset to experience greater success in my life.

- Mohammad Danish
Our visit to the home was definitely fruitful and meaningful. We were greeted with great enthusiasm from the young kids. It was an enriching visit and I am happy and honored to be able to visit and  help out at the home today. 

- Jedrek Lim
I felt that the children were very enthusiastic and happy at all times no matter the circumstances. I felt elated  that they also enjoyed our performance and gifts.

- Ernest Tham

At first, I thought that the visit to the home would be another normal activity. I was not feeling too eager but the smiles on the children face changed my overall perspective of the visit. I felt that it was a very fruitful and meaningful programme. I also realized that small acts of kindness brings joy to others. I have learned to become more appreciative of all the blessings I have received. I hope that Punggol Secondary would continue to support this home and bring happiness to these young children.

 - Asyley 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cultural Immersion Programme Day 1 and 2

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Welcome to the Cultural Immersion Programme to South India 2014.

Here you will receive an update of all our meaningful activities as we embark on our Cultural Immersion Programme to South India.

Wednesday, 4 November 2014

Pre-Trip Briefing on 8th Nov
Students came eagerly to attend the briefing. We gave them the a brief idea of the objectives of this trip.

Objectives are:

1. Develop in our students the 21CC global awareness and cross cultural skills.
2. Increase their knowledge and sensitivity to cultures different from their own.

8th Oct - Pre-trip  Briefing
17th Oct - Briefing conducted by Vendor
                  Briefing for Parents
21st Oct - Submission of documents
23rd Oct - Planning of activities

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Our flight landed safely at the Chennai International Airport at 2210. It was the beginning of an exciting experience for us and we are looking forward to the wonderful days ahead.

After an exciting 45 minute bus ride, we have arrived at The Residency. Students are tired and after being issued their respective rooms, they have succumbed by exhaustion and went into their slumber. With a new adventure about to unfold to us the next day.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Morning started off with a huge breakfast after which we made our way to the bus to pay a visit to Velammal International School. We were greeted by the staff of the school who gave us an introduction to the school's background and history.

We were given the opportunity to experience their morning assembly. It was an interesting event as it was very well planned and organised. We saw students showcasing their talents and skills, they were especially impressive in the area of their Yoga demonstration. It consisted of three very young boys who were able to perform amazing acts that enthralled us. Soon after we were assigned our partners from the school who gave us a tour around the school compound and we interacted with each other, learning more about each other's background and lifestyle. It was an enriching program as we were able to experience many new things that we would never have encountered in Singapore.

After our visit we made our way to the Bay of Bengal while on a city tour. We saw historical places of interest and we were intrigued by the long history which dates back to the year AD 52.We walked along the second longest beach in Asia. After which we treated to a scrumptious buffet meal at a 5-star hotel. The food was titillating and we were mesmerized by the vast selection of main courses and dessert.