4 September 2017

From the School Director's Desk

One month into school and it already seems that there is enough to write about to fill a volume! To begin with a specially warm welcome to this first blog of Pathways Noida to all new families. I look forward to getting to know you better.  The multiple Form mornings for different grades and the workshops on the PYP, MYP and the DP orientation will I hope have given you an initial insight into the school We have started the year on a good note – a beautiful new Primary block and a new Primary school Principal are a good way to start.

The Blue Whale Menace
I am beginning on a sober note, especially but not exclusively for secondary school parents. You will be aware of the high degree of publicity around the bizarre and destructive Blue Whale game. It is most of all, a symbol of our times. As adults we are uncertain about what is happening in the minds of young teenagers, especially because of the private world which technology promotes. We are also aware that anxiety, depression and peer pressure are higher in this generation of teenagers than ever before in human history. Elsewhere in this blog you can read about the indicators to watch out for.
However the way forward is what it has always been – ensuring a close personal connect with a child, discussing with them what is happening in their lives, being aware if they are struggling emotionally or if there is a change in their behaviour. There is no substitute for these. As parents I would urge a non-judgmental attitude, one which is founded in an appreciation of what they are. Showing your child how to improve or urging them to change is a tricky business when you are dealing with a teenager. It is necessary to do, but only in a way where they do not feel worthless. At this age although on the outside, they may seem confident and dismissive of your opinion, children are extraordinarily vulnerable to your opinion. Building up self-worth is probably the most valuable gift you can give your child, one which will take them further in life than winning medals or getting the highest grades.
In school we are in the process of discussing this nasty phenomenon with children.

Wellness Week
Long before the Blue Whale phenomenon hit the headlines, we had planned a focus on what we call Wellness – a large term which covers mental health, social & community health and physical health. In this year we are focussing on mental health, most of all on the development of resilience. While loss, failure, anxiety are a normal part of the human condition, we need to teach people today how to deal with these. Learning from failure is one example. Knowing how to calm and focus your mind at times of high emotion is another. Managing stress and high expectations is a third. These are lifelong lessons which we all need to learn – and we are making a start with launching focussed attention on this. Meanwhile for parents I can suggest two resources easily available on Youtube. I had shared with Primary parents a TED talk on Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth. Some of you will know of it already. Also have a look at a TED talk by Guy Finch which we will be sharing with secondary school students.

Council of International Schools Accreditation
As I have shared earlier, the school is seeking accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS). This is a rigorous process which looks at all aspects of the school, going beyond the academic. In the upcoming week we will have an initial review visit by a representative from CIS. The Visitor is Jenni Thompson who has had wide experience with international schools around the world. She will be reviewing administration, finance, academic processes and meeting different members of the school community. This is part of our ongoing process of seeking school improvement.

Safety Lockdown drill
 The secondary school had a very succesful safety drill on the procedures for Lockdowns. We have regular drills for evacuation in case of fire or internal threat. However there are possibly times of social disturbance or an armed intruder when we need to huddle inside. Staff have had a series of trainings on this and last week students went through a Lockdown drill after being taken through the process. We plan to do a similar but more lowkey version for Primary school as we do not want to raise anxiety in our littlest children.

IC3 Fair and Conference
We were happy to host a huge univerisities fair in conjunction with an international careers organisation called IC3. Over 60 universities from around the world were in school to meet students and parents and to run workshops on general areas like Careers without Maths, or careers in Aviation. Following
this, the school participated in a huge international conference with representatives from schools around the country and 160 universities from around India and the world. We were proud that our students opened the conference with a music performance from secondary school and a yoga performance by Grade 4. It was a nice way of highlighting our children’s varied talents.

I am delighted to share that our university counselor Deblina Chakravorty won the Counselor of the Year Award at the IC3 conference. This was at the end of a detailed process where schools nominated with evidence. A short list was created by a jury and the final decision was made by them. The jury consisted of Principals from different schools around India. We are all very proud of the work done by her.

Dr Shalini Advani
School Director

From the Primary School Principal, Mrs. Meenakshi Singal

The new academic year got off to a wonderful start with the inauguration of the new Primary School building Cassia and we became the proud occupants of a spanking new, state of the
art, four story building with spacious learning spaces. The staff worked hard to make it warm and welcoming for our students when we opened the doors to them on the 9th of August. The various teams involved in making this possible have been stellar, the Projects Team for handing over the building to us in record time, the Admin Team for listening to our ceaseless demands and helping us to meet deadlines and the entire staff of Primary School for their cheerfulness and positivity as they worked to provide a stimulating learning environment to the students. A special assembly to mark the inauguration of Cassia during the first week and graced by the members of the Management spread cheer and joy through the Primary School community.

The week after saw fervent action and excitement as the upper primary classes prepared to elect their new Student Council. There were nervous candidates waiting anxiously outside the School Director’s office for an interview with the School Director, the Primary School Principal and the Deputy Principal of Primary School.  This was followed with interesting speeches, rigorous campaigning and finally the elections! On the 25th of August, the new Primary School Student Council took the oath of office in a solemn Investiture Ceremony.
On the same day, students of Grades 2 to 5 were acknowledged for their efforts, for the previous year, and received their Awards. The venue was packed to capacity with delighted parents who had come to witness these ceremonies. Ms Anita Anand, a renowned author, was the Chief Guest for the occasion.

Through all the excitement, the focus on academics did not waver as on the 25th, students of KG went on a field trip to the supermarket to understand the implications of their first Line of Inquiry – Different systems around us, At the supermarket they observed that every item was kept in a clearly demarcated space. The students talked about how mixing chips and pens together would be a bad idea or mixing oil and shampoo would be disastrous. They joked about what would happen if someone who is in a hurry drank shampoo instead of oil! The idea of having things “Organized” was clearly understood by them. This was followed by discussions about the ‘need' to organize things.
On the 24th, students of Grade 5 had an engaging skype session
with an archaeologist, Danika Parikh, who is based in Cambridge and is working on a project connected with the Indus Valley civilisation. This skype session was arranged to help the students enrich their understanding about their ongoing inquiry on ancient civilizations and their connection to the modern day society. The students were completely engrossed in the conversation with Ms. Danika as she
gave them an insight about an archaeologist's life, the tools they use, her rarest find (a 6000 year old piece of pottery), as well as a search which went on for days and then turned out to be a mistake! She also showed artefacts and shared information about them. It was interesting for the students to learn how archaeologists study the various objects they find - their age, their importance, where they belong, and what they tell us about the civilization. The students loved to learn about things so old that had a connection with modern day society. Towards the end of the session, many of the students felt inspired to become archaeologists!

The Grade 5 students reinforced their learning with a visit to the
National Museum on Tuesday the 29th  . The visit helped them appreciate the role of evidence in learning about the past. They viewed artefacts from the Harappan period and moved through the arms and ammunition hall, numismatic hall, textile, sculptures and painting sections to name a few. The objects on display were of utilitarian, ritualistic, secular and decorative significance. The learners observed the artefacts and made connections to the modern times. The entire visit was led by the Yuva Saathi volunteers to engage the students’ young minds in a dialogue with the objects of National Museum.

We started with a series of Form Mornings for different classes through the week of 28th August - 4th of September. It was a great opportunity for parents to connect with the Form Tutors of their children and understand systems, more importantly learn about and get an overview of the curriculum for the year.  The Early Learners were thrilled to receive their Awards during their Form Mornings. The parents of Pre-Nursery and Nursery attended the Parent and Me sessions that gave them an understanding of the specialist areas of Music, Dance, ICT, Art and Drama.

Our Primary Years Program Coordinator Ms Vandana Sharma conducted Orientation sessions about the PYP program for parents new to the School. As partners in their child’s learning journey, the parents displayed a keen interest to understand the nuances of the program.

On the 30th and 31st of August we had our Grade 4 students visit the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.
They were very happy to identify the Installation “Bomb blast” by Subodh Gupta. The purpose of the visit was to identify the ways artists use different mediums to convey a message. They studied Ms. Pushpalata N’s work and were deeply intrigued by it. After careful observation, they identified that the subject of all the photos was the artist herself.
They also identified that the background was based on famous paintings. Ms. Rajshree, their guide, discussed the work at length and it was wonderful to see students identify the symbolism in the art work. Ms. Rajshree informed the children about the real life situations that had inspired the artist.  The trip to Kiran Nadar museum reinforced the importance of colors and symbols in interpreting the message the artist was trying to convey. Drawing inspiration from the observations, the students created their own art work.
We have just about started the academic year and seem to have set ourselves on a roller coaster journey of discovering new vistas of learning. Here’s to a joyful ride together!

The Blue Whale Challenge – Some Information

Blue Whale is not a downloadable game, application or software. It's a social media phenomenon which enters social media networks from secretive groups. You can only be part of the game if an administrator contacts you and enlists you as a potential whale, or candidate. It may also be available under different names such as A Silent House, A Sea of Whales and Wake Me Up at 4:20 AM. As has been widely reported it challenges young people to self harm and finally commit suicide as part of a dare.

Some indicators -  participants to start distancing themselves from the family or friends and stay alone. Their sleep pattern changes as the challenge requires them to wake up at 4.20 am. They become fascinated with horror movies as this is another challenge they must meet. Since one of the rules of Blue Whale game is to cut yourself every day, identifying such small cuts on the person’s body can also help to identify if they are playing the blue whale game.

As we always advise, parents should monitor the internet access of children, and keep an eye on their online activities. Our advice at school is always that children should not keep their devices with them at night – neither phones nor laptops. Whether Blue Whale or for some other reason such as surfing and chatting through the night, there must be a time in young people’s lives when they do not access social media.

Given the media exposure it is most likely that your child already knows about the Blue Whale challenge. A good way to begin a discussion is to ask your child if they know about the challenge. Then ask them to clue you in. Having them educate you is often the best way to start a true conversation and get their perspective. They’re far more receptive to that approach than they are to parent lectures.

 If you find that your child is already playing the Blue Whale challenge, then the first step is to completely stop the internet access of the child and contact the police about the issue and seek further guidance. Approaching a certified psychologist will also be helpful. Please do share with the school. We will not be more judgmental than you are and we emphasise the need of working together with understanding for the welfare of your child.

Even while it is essential to be careful, we must note that several fact-checking websites and media watchdogs have dismissed data on deaths due to lack of evidence

Primary School Academic Awards Ceremony, Dr. Arti Bakshi

“Every child is a winner”
On Friday, 25th August, 2017 we were delighted to hold our 7th Annual Awards and Investiture ceremony in our school cafeteria. Over six hundred invitees attended this prestigious event.
The parents were accorded a warm welcome followed by the traditional lamp lighting ceremony.

The event featured two Primary school choir songs, melodious and delightful performance from the student groups, inspirational words of wisdom from our chief guest, Ms. Anita Anand who is an author of repute, our School Director, Dr. Shalini Advani and our Primary School Principal, Mrs. Meenakshi Singhal. The awards ceremony highlighted the many successes of the past academic year. Prizes were given for excellence, endeavour and progress as well as for noteworthy performances in specific subjects. Awards were also given for demonstrating the IB learner’s profile, for exceptional peer mentoring and for technological success. Our awards ceremony morning enabled us to formally reward and recognize success.

One of the most important gifts we offer young children is a positive view of themselves.

The Upper Primary awards ceremony and the student council investiture ceremony was the celebration of every child.

Using individualized learning across the school has ensured that all our children expect to succeed. Rewards abound for every child who finds success. We do not expect failure but acknowledge challenges. Nurturing every child to exceed their potential, is a motto, we showcase in every awards ceremony, for we value ‘progress’ in every field, at the child’s pace.
The role of the children is just to be children. During the awards ceremony, it was ensured that all our children held a positive view of themselves and were ready to approach the new academic year with self-confidence.

‘’If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. If you can boost the self-esteem of your team and make them believe in themselves, you are a leader. If you can lead by example and not by mere words you are truly a leader. ‘’- John Quincy Adams

At Pathways school, we believe that being a member of the coveted Student Council teaches our children to work in tandem as a team, to be accountable for their actions and be worthy of the trust reposed in them.

The Student Council formally took the oath of office at the solemn Investiture Ceremony, where they promised to uphold the values and traditions. It was indeed a milestone in their lives! When the students took their oath, they vowed to always keep the faith, to stand for what is just and right, to be upright and honest in all their actions.

As Gandhiji said, ‘a small body of determined spirits fired with an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.’

The program concluded with the National Anthem.

Secondary School Academic Awards Ceremony by Anoushka Nalwa- Grade 12

One event that every student looks forward to is the annual awards ceremony that takes place in August, just after school reopens from the summer break. A tradition at our school, the ceremony is held to award all those students who have performed exceedingly well in the previous academic year.  

Students from grades 9 and above, who had topped their grades, were given scholarships from school.  Apart from this, the two awards that were presented, were the proficiency and the merit
awards, which are also awarded for academic excellence. A more holistic "effort" award is given to the students who have shown a tremendous change in their attitude towards learning and have improved. While academic performance is awarded, our school also recognizes the fact that there may be other things that students excel at, ranging from creativity to leadership. This set of awards is called the 'Special Awards' and there are various titles awarded such as the Lifelong Learner award or the Ideal Pathwaysian. There was a lot of buzz and excitement all around, as students went up to receive their awards.

This year, the chief guest was Professor R.L. Seth, who at the beginning of the ceremony had the audience transfixed, while talking about sustainability and how there was an urgent need for change. There was also a music ensemble performed by students from grades 8-11 where they performed the Game of Throne's theme song, a complete crowd winner.

Exploring the right way to business: The sustainable way- Greenbiz at PSN,by Gariyasi Garg Gr 10

Sustainability is the most pressing need of the hour. It is essential for all educational institutions to instill a feeling of responsibility towards the planet in young students and convey to them that one doesn’t have to be an environmentalist to contribute to sustainable development. You can be whatever you want and still play your part in protecting the world from complete mobilization of resources.

Pathways School Noida found an effective and far-reaching way of doing so.

They held Greenbiz, on 22nd August 2017 – a one-day event for aspiring economists, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers. There were five exciting and well-planned events: starting with a ‘Panel Discussion’ about water as an economic commodity; ‘Creators and Promoters’, an event for ingenious minds to create sustainability out of the discarded; ‘Shark

Tank’, an impeccable simulation of an actual franchise; ‘Graffiti’ – a platform for artistic souls to spark a thought amongst the viewers through their design; and lastly, Adonomics - for young marketing experts to delve into the objectives and impact of video advertisements.

13 leading schools of NCR participated enthusiastically in the various events. The events were judged by accomplished in-school faculty members and eminent guest judges. I was a participant in Adonomics, and it was an enthralling experience for me. From the research and preparation with my team members to the opportunity to listen to the views of students from other schools, everything was so amazing. All contestants had conducted extensive research and gave their best shot in all areas. The presentation of most  schools was appreciated as very innovative and productive.

While Pathways School Aravalli won the Overall Achievement School trophy, Pathways School Noida bagged the first position in three of the four competitive events. It was a prodigious moment of pride for all the students of the host school.  However, we were more delighted for having successfully organized an enjoyable and very enlightening experience for so many!

Slam Poetry Workshop with Ms. Shibani Das and Ms. Aastha Singh

On the 22nd of August we had an amazing workshop with two of the leading slam poets of Delhi, Ms. Shibani Das and Ms. Aastha Singh. Both Ms. Shibani and Ms. Aastha are young women who have fallen in love with words and the art of poetry and had come to show us how beautiful this art is. These artists are amazing writers and even better speakers. However, I noticed that both of them have very different styles. Ms. Shibani portrays her poems in a strong and quick manner, more like a rap, whereas Ms. Aastha likes to go through her poems slowly and sweetly more like a slow, soothing song.

The workshop started in the morning. When we entered the room all of us sat together and Ms. Mayura introduced us to the two beautiful writers and after that they took over. They did an ice-breaking activity with us and then we had a small activity followed by an introduction to few do’s and don’ts of presenting slam poetry. After which we had a small break. When we got back, we listened to what would probably be a teen poet's dream come true moment, “Cinderella Syndrome” by Ms. Shibani Das. The poem was about the expectations we have from young love and the reality that follows, the poem was stunning as it took us back in time to an insight into Ms. Shibani’s life.

Afterwards, we had a discussion on how not to let your nervousness be revealed to the audience when presenting your slam poem. We also looked at a  poem by Ms. Aastha which was actually written by her in the morning as a response to a call-out by her favorite writer. The poem was very relatable and even after all the denying by Ms. Aastha the poem did seem to be written in the morning! To top the day, we were put in groups and were told to write our singular poems and collate them to present to the class with all our group members. The topic was “A letter to your younger self”.

Overall, I can very confidently say that this was the best workshop and an unforgettable day of my middle school life as I was one of those few people who is a die-hard fan of slam poetry. I would like to thank both Ms. Shibani and Ms. Aastha along with all of our wonderful English teachers for giving us an opportunity to learn so much. Thank you so much and on behalf of all of us in Pathways I’d like to say that we truly admire both of you.

Aarushi Pandey

At the start of the lesson, Slam poetry was no different for me from any other form of poetry. I thought that poetry consisted of only one type which is filled with poetic devices and hidden meanings. This belief stayed with me until we started the unit on slam poetry. Later, I found out that Slam poetry is not only hidden meanings and complex terms but feelings and emotions that are expressed in so many ways. Spoken words are so expressive and can help connect many different people from around the world. One emotion that we strive to Interpret from written word can be expressed simply with spoken word.
This was easy enough to understand. However, how to use drama to entertain through means of poetry is something else. Aastha and Shibani’s workshop and their personal performed poetry gave us
real life examples on how to create slam poetry, how to exude confidence and how poetry can be used to express range of emotions using drama. I found the “writing poetry together” exercise in the workshop most helpful. This helped me understand how different perspectives can be elicited from one topic and none of them are neither wrong nor in tandem with the theme. The art though is mixing all those ideas into one single poetry.
Putting traditional poetry aside and gather confidence to not recite but perform the poem is an extremely important aspect of the whole ordeal. As much as you try to make them go away, butterflies still flutter in your stomach every time you perform. The workshop’s tips and tricks to survive this, will prove fruitful in future during any audience performance. The best part is if you fake confidence, it naturally comes to you.   

By Tarsha Swami - 8A

The Bake Sale: Baking, Decision-making and Tasting, Diksha Prashant, Deputy Director Article Writing Interact Core Committee

The bake sale was organized by the Interact Club, on the 23rd of August 2017. The event was carefully planned, promoted and executed by the committee members. From planning and promoting to collecting and bringing all baked goods, each member of the team showed commitment and zeal in their
work. Various posters and emails were sent to the students and teachers in order to raise a substantial amount.
Above all, as a committee we showed good team spirit, hence resulting the event to be a massive success and to the collection of over 37,000 rupees, which will be deposited in the Interact Club fund and will be used towards future service initiatives, namely building a computer lab in our school premises for our support staff and their children.

The full-coverage of the event was granted by the shots taken by the photographers of the committee. The rush and hard work of committee members, the extensively long lines, the mouth-watering delicacies and delight on the faces of the students were registered, which was lovely to see. I proudly announce that the event was a colossal success, and we hope to have many more successful sales in the future!

Grade 5 Skype session with archaeologist, Danika Parikh based in Cambridge, UK, by Ms. Lily Osmond FT Gr 5

On 24th August, 2017, students of grade 5 had an engaging skype session with an archaeologist, Danika Parikh, who is based in Cambridge, the United Kingdom. She is working on a project connected with the Indus Valley civilisation. This skype session was arranged to help the students enrich their understanding of their ongoing inquiry on “Ancient civilizations and their connection to the modern day society”.

During the Skype session the children were completely engrossed in the conversation with Ms. Danika. She gave them an insight into an archaeologist's life wherein she shared about how difficult it is. She talked about the tools they use too.  Ms. Dhanika told us about her rare find (a 6000 year old pottery) as well. She shared the journey she and her team undertook for the find. She shared that after a search process which went on for days they figured out that they were on an incorrect path.

She told us about many different artefacts along with first hand information about them. It was interesting for us to learn how archaeologists find out information about the various objects they discover - their age, their importance, where they belonged, and what they tell us about the civilization. The students loved to learn about things which were so old yet had a connection with the modern day society. It was a wonderful learning experience for us all where we could see the connection between the past and the present through evidences.

Towards the end of the session, many of the children felt inspired to become an archaeologist and take it up as a profession.

Grade 5 Field trip to the “National Museum” by Ms. Lily Osmond FT Grade 5

Field trips are a first-hand learning experience to begin, start or end a unit. The Grade 5s went on a field trip to the “National Museum”, New Delhi on the 29th August, 2017 to deepen and expand their learning outside the classroom environment. An inquiry into ancient civilizations led the students to visit a museum so that they could understand and appreciate the role of evidence in
telling us about our past. The visit was a rich learning experience as it was a walk through the past with artefacts from the Harappan period. The Arms and ammunition hall, the numismatics hall, the textile, sculptures, paintings sections were some of the areas we visited. Each one offered an aesthetic and artistic essence
and a took us up the learning ladder. The collection of artefacts covered a wide range of objects like utilitarian, ritualistic, secular and decorative items. The learners observed the artefacts and made connections to the modern times. It was indeed a highly beneficial trip for the learners to discover every epoch of man’s growth along time. The entire visit was lead by the Yuva Saathi volunteers to engage the students’ young minds in a dialogue with the objects of National Museum.
Overall it was an engaging, involving and a memorable trip.

Poetry Writing Competition by Dev Vaidya Grade 10

On the 19th of August, we went to DELNET, which is located in the calm and beautiful JNU campus, for a learning experience of a lifetime brought to us by the much celebrated Poetry Society of India and the two very knowledgeable facilitators Ms. Sanjula Sharma a freelance journalist, writer and poet who conducts workshops called Happy Minds and Ms. Mandira Ghosh who is an honorary member of the Society and a celebrated haiku writer and published poet.
The day started off with a group photograph of the participants of all the schools. Then the rules of the competition were told to us and our teachers Ms. Susan and Mr. Gaurav encouraged us to do our best. Post all the motivational conversation the competition began with four visual prompts, each to be comprehended figuratively followed by a poem rhyme or free-verse written in the hour allotted.
After the competition, we were given time for lunch followed by an hour and a half long workshop by the facilitators asking us to read more to write better and explaining all 8 of the 57 recognized forms of poetry. There was also a screening of a riveting Ruskin Bond film. We also got an opportunity to share /recite some of our poems before the gathering. Many students, including a couple from our school, went up on stage.
Finally, the winners were announced and the awards were distributed. Unfortunately, our school did not get any. I am looking forward to next year’s competition. I hope to get at least a couple of awards for my school.

Grade 1 Story Telling with Drama teacher Ms. Garima Arya, by Ms Elieen M Moore FT grade 1

This week our first graders were hooked into a wonderful story session with the drama teacher Ms. Garima. Her story telling skills captivated our children’s attention as she narrated the story; ‘The Famous Smile’. The story unfolded such that after several failed attempts, Agar Magar the character finally makes it big; when he decides to take a tour of the mighty river, the deep forest and the mighty town. The story goes on to reveal how Agar Magar the crocodile goes to places flaunting his sparkly, shiny teeth and his famous smile and in doing so does he manage to fish for compliments or attract the animals for his tasty meal. This interactive story was written by author Geeta Dharmaharajan.

 Story telling sessions always add fun to an exciting week. A big advantage of storytelling is to enhance a child's vocabulary, imagination and expressions.

Behes - A debating experience by Ishaan Gupta Grade 11

On the fourth and fifth of August, I had the privilege of participating in one of India’s most renowned debating competitions, Behes. We were six students from Pathways Noida, divided into two teams. The debates were quite complex, with each speaker having only fifteen minutes to amalgamate
sharp points, cutting rebuttals, and include credible facts, all in a four minutes speech; all this to try and garner as many points as possible for their team. Both our teams achieved success. One, comprising of Neha Gupta, Shreya Trikha and Adyant Jaiswal reached the semi-finals, while the other, my team which included Jonathan Osmond and Aayush Tiwary managed to slog all the way through the finals and win the Noida Round 2017!

There were a great many lessons to learn in the Noida Round, lessons, even more important, as both our teams will be debating in the nationals in December. Arrogance and underestimating our opponents, due to their age nearly cost us the semi finals, and should not be repeated. Appreciation for my own skills and weaknesses came about as well. How my rebuttals are integrated well, but my conclusions lack power and smoothness and would definitely need some work. Now, both our teams, look to the future, to Maha Behes in December. Regular practice schedules have been made and will be held despite our increasing academic demands. Only through strengthening our weaknesses can we hope to transition from Noida Champions to National Champions.

MindVISA Auroville trip, Nehak Agrawal 10 A

I along with six other students of Pathways School, Noida, got the privilege to be a part of the Auroville community from 7th August to 11th August, 2017. As expected, it was an extremely fruitful and a highly satisfying 5-day trip for all of us.
Not only did we get the rare opportunity to experience the peace that envelopes the environs of the Auroville community but were also fortunate recipients of their unadulterated love and affection. Amidst all the attention, we also got the opportunity to participate in a community project designed for the welfare of the community members, along with our Turkish friends whom we befriended and collaborated with throughout the five days that we were there.

There were 4 main groups that were created to carry out the community project- the eco-construction group, the musical instruments making group, the teaching group and the painting group.
I was a member of the painting group along with 5 more students. We were given a classroom and were asked to paint some images representing the grade 6 syllabus on that walls. Initially it appeared, I’ll admit, to be a daunting task. We were at sea trying to figure out what we can paint on the walls given the fact that the 30 students who were in grade 6 used the
walls as their books. Given their financial status they could not afford books, hence the walls were innovatively used to teach them what they should know in grade 6, instead of books. Finally, we set out on our task with much dedication as we bore the responsibility of educating 30 students on our determined shoulders. 5 days of collaborative planning, team-work and hard-work led to results which, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of. As I looked at what we had done at the end of 5 days, my hand instinctively extended to my back giving it a short pat. The smile of satisfaction and pride sat on our faces for a long time.

Apart from the community projects, we partook of lots of collaborative activates with our Turkish and local rural friends. We attended yoga sessions in the morning, experienced music-meditation, did surfing for the first time in our lives and attended a leadership workshop which were all unique in their own ways.

Moreover, we learnt terracotta art from a world-renowned artist, V.K. Munusamy. It was humbling to know that he had held many exhibitions all around the world yet he lived in the small village helping other people make a living through terracotta art.
I came to love the small mandatory group sessions in the morning, where we, the
Pathwaysians, the Turkish and our rural friends sat together and shared our thoughts and experiences from the previous day. I looked forward to the discussions on topics like ‘Though India has so many cultures, so many languages, so many religions which are much different from each other, what is the thing that is keeping India together’? or ‘What is truly meant by Unity’?

To sum up, I’d like to say that these thought provoking discussions, the happy reactions of Tamil teachers and students, the feeling of being a part of a community where currency is pretty much redundant made our 5 day trip a memory we will forever cherish.