Twenty seven students from Bradon Forest School, accompanied by four teachers, spent 10 days in Northern India in April visiting iconic historical sites and two partner Jawahar Navodaya Vidylaya (JNV) schools which select talented children from poorer backgrounds.
Year 11 student Charlotte Butler from Peatmoor, who has been involved in the school link programme since Year 7, describes the trip that has been five years in the planning.
Grace Bartlett, Charlotte Butler and Lydia Clayton with JNV students.
Middle, Charlotte with Indian students. Bottom, Eleasha Kell, Charlotte and Grace with Swindon Link magazine at the Golden Temple of Amritsar
For 5 years, I have been lucky to be part of the link group which connects my school to numerous schools throughout Northern India. Over these years, we have sent pieces of work, including posters, books and videos about British culture and our school.
In return, we received cards, artwork and letters back from students in the Indian schools, which we have shared with the rest of our school. From this, I was able to see just how different our cultures really are, and how much each student in the link school values the opportunity they have been given for a good education. They are so passionate about their life ambitions and how much they enjoy their time at school. It has made me realise how fortunate I am.
At the start of Year 10, it was announced that another visit to India was being organised for 2014 but each of us had to raise £1,500 to make the journey. Fundraising included pamper evenings, cream teas with bingo and charity curry nights at the Bombay Lounge night in Peatmoor. Through the constant support of friends and family I was able to raise all the money and I want to thank everybody who helped any of the Bradon students to reach their goal.
We had an amazing time, with visits to The Golden Temple in Amritsar, visiting the Dhal Lama’s home and even riding on a tuc-tuc (motorised rickshaw). The highlight of the trip was definitely visiting the two schools.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the whole school with flowers and bindis for each of us and a smile on every student’s face. It was overwhelming that our visit was so significant for them; they were all as excited as we were. The students were so friendly and welcoming; even when we won a basketball game, they still had smiles on their faces.
At both schools, students were very proud to show us around. What really surprised me was their ambitions for the future and how determined each individual pupil was to succeed. Every day, they were constantly reminded by a small sign above their bed in their dormitory, personalised to what they wanted to be when they were older.
Our visit to the Tibet children’s orphanage was particularly interesting as we learnt more about the drastic situation in Tibet and how many of these children have travelled hundreds of miles with complete strangers to reach a secure place. Their parents had made the heart breaking decision to send their own children off into the unknown so they could have a safer future than under the control of the Chinese government.
Even in this very difficult situation, again, every pupil had a smile on their face, they were all thankful for what they had now. Nowadays fewer children are able to come over the border from Tibet because of strict rules by the Chinese government.
It was a truly amazing experience and I was so lucky to have this opportunity. Thank you to everyone involved and I hope to return to India in the future to discover more.