Flo Carpenter's recount of her trip to India - April 2012

During the Easter holidays, I took part in a teacher study visit to the South of India. I stayed at an education centre called Sangam in a little village called Silvepura, 25km north of Bangalore.

 

The living area at Sangam (where we stayed)

 

One of the toilets at Sangam (there were “normal” toilets too!)

I arrived very early in the morning on the first day, and after a rest, we had a cycle ride to explore the village. Silvepura is a Christian village, which was an interesting place to stay, as people tend to associate India with other religions such as Hinduism (the first of my many preconceptions that changed over the course of my stay!).

 

A house in Silvepura

 

Another type of house in Silvepura

     
   

A bullock cart

   

The next few days were spent visiting different schools. We went to a local village school with 40 students (Sita school), where the emphasis was strongly on outdoor learning and the children took part in many activities alongside their “traditional” learning of maths, English and their own language (Kannada). While we were there, we helped with some gardening and went on a nature walk. It was amazing how many trees, plants and flowers the children knew the names of!

 

A classroom at Sita school

 

A ground squirrel

     
   

Monkey mummy and baby!

   

The following day we visited two different sites belonging to the same school (TVS) : first we went to the Early Years site and after that we visited the “main” school which runs from 6-18 years of age. The school was amazing and so well resourced, and the children’s level of English was surprisingly good (children are taught only in English from the age of 6, though they only speak Kannada at home). We saw an English lesson where the children were working in talk partners and writing book reviews, and a maths lesson where the class were folding paper to show different fractions. We were also lucky enough to participate in a special Hindu ceremony, Rama Navami (the birthday of Rama), which involved different Hindu rituals and some yummy food!

 

A maths lesson at TVS school

 

The teachers enjoying our BPS information book

The next school we visited (Parikrma) was really inspiring. It is one of 4 schools set up by an Indian businesswoman, catering to the very poorest children in and around Bangalore. The school is sponsored by different companies such as Dell, who provide computers for the ICT suite, and Toshiba, who sponsors one of the classes. The children who attend this school live in slums with no sanitation (running water and toilets) or electricity, but at school they are given everything they need to have the best start in life: a good education, 3 meals a day, uniform (sponsored by Levis- denim uniform is very cool!), school resources and healthcare. It was incredible to see how confident and outspoken the children were, and how much they valued their education: they could not have been more enthused about their learning, and they were so grateful for everything their teachers were doing for them. It was a very moving experience.

 

Assembly at Parikrma school (check out the denim uniform!)

 

A yoga demonstration in the morning assembly

 

The slum houses of the children of Parikrma school

 

A woman washing her clothes in the lake

As well as visiting schools, we spent some time gathering artefacts to bring back to share with our schools. We visited a market town called Malleshwaram as well as Bangalore (a rapidly developing city) to buy clothes, household objects, religious artefacts and lots more (my luggage weighed twice as much on the way back as it did on the way!)

 

A fruit and vegetable stall in the market

 

Drinking coconut milk (yuk!)

We also visited a palace, some shrines, a 13th Century Hindu Mandir and attended a couple of church services in the village church, as we were there over the Easter weekend.

 

A 13th Century Hindu Mandir (Somnathpur Mandir)

 

Women at church on Easter Sunday

     
   

Mantri Square, a shopping mall near Bangalore

   

Some other activities I took part in included:

  • Painting Mehindi patterns
  • Yoga
  • A village and city comparison study
  • A visit to a brickworks and a sugar cane “farm”
  • Cooking (the food was one of the highlights of the trip for me!!)
  • Creating Rangoli patterns
  • A visit to a bird sanctuary
  • Bike rides around the local area
  • And lots more!
 

Creating Rangoli patterns

 

The group on a boat trip near Mysore
     
 

One of many delicious meals (dahl, spinach and paneer, chapattis and raita)

 

A traditional South Indian meal served on a banana leaf!

Overall, the experience I had was a life-changing one. I learnt so much about life in India and I am so excited about sharing this with everyone here at BPS. I would like to say thank you to the governors for supporting me in this trip, and to everyone who bought a raffle ticket for the bike, which raised almost £150 towards the cost of the artefacts I bought.
I am very happy to talk to anyone who will listen (or bore you with thousands of photos!!) so please come and have a chat with me about it if you’re interested and want to find out more about my trip.

Flo Carpenter

 

 

Drawing of a teacher and children
 
 

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