Late last year students and staff from St Patrick’s College, Ballarat, Australia, visited St John’s High School, Chandigarh, India.
The schools, through their shared Edmund Rice connection, decided to be a part of a meaningful exchange program which would foster cultural awareness, spiritual development and provide a wonderful bonding platform for their students.
The holistic and engaging participation of the students of these two wonderful institutions was a celebration of the blessed Founder’s vision of equality, community spirit and the will to respect diversity.
A key feature of this visit was that the St Patrick’s students were given “Johnian” buddies weeks before they actually landed in Chandigarh and this opened communication channels between them, thus creating a comfort zone and a beautiful rapport.
Day 1, 27th November 2018
The visiting guests were extended a traditional Indian welcome at the Senior School assembly.
Their first day included a tour of the Junior School and interaction with their buddies, a visit to the Government Rehabilitation Institute for Intellectual Disabilities (GRIID), a visit to the Heritage Complex and finally a walk around the Sukhna Lake, followed by a boating activity at the same.
Day 2, 28th November 2018
The day began with the tour of the Senior School followed by a heartwarming immersion activity with the hearing-impaired students (Vatika) which is the outreach program of Class 6 of St John’s. The Australian students had a chance to interact with the Vatika students and to learn some sign language!
The day’s major excursion was to a village adopted by the National Social Service members of St John’s. All took an active part in the distribution of dustbins and the residents were encouraged to practise cleanliness and proper methods of garbage disposal.
This was followed by a visit to the holy shrine of Mansa Devi.
The day ended with an informal dinner hosted by our Senior School Coordinator, at her residence.
Day 3, 29th November 2018
The day began with a tour of our vocational training centre.
Next came a farm visit – a combination of a modern and traditional farm which left our visitors completely delighted.
The dinner that evening was hosted by our Old Boys’ Association, SJOBA!
Day 4, 30th November, 2018
Our final day began with a visit to the Rock Garden, a unique sculpture garden fashioned from industrial and urban waste.
This was followed by shopping and lunch at the premier mall of the city.
Then the guests joined the celebrations of the Kindergarten Students’ Parents’ Day!
A farewell dinner was hosted by the school. St Patrick’s began the evening with their custom of a Traditional Smoke ceremony. Our Australian guests explained about their National Flag followed by the singing of their School Song – which was joined in by their Johnian buddies with gusto.
In the words of the St Patrick’s Deputy Headmaster, Mr Stephen Hill, “Our experience has been fantastic and a truly enriching one for our boys.”
The Principal of St John’s, Mrs Kavita. C. Das, expressed her delight that the global community of Edmund Rice schools was forging new bonds of friendship, that hopefully, would last a lifetime.