Student Exchange Program – Swedish Visit
As part of the student exchange program, 3 teachers and 7 students from Alvboda Friskola, Sweden came to Pune on 21st Oct’15.It was a wonderful 10 days of planning, coordinating and executing a gamut of activities for our first exchange program!
After a lot of discussion and speculation we arrived at the possible list of parents who could host the Swedish children. A lot of phone callsand meetings were arranged with these parents and finally Mrs. & Mr. Shaw, Mrs.& Mr. Peshave, Mrs. & Mr. Shinde, Mrs. & Mr. Pendharkar , Mrs. & Mr. Chavan, Mrs. & Mr. Pawar, Mrs. & Mr. Dhamne and Mrs. & Mr. Shewale very graciously accepted to host the children.There were moments of anxiety, driven away by those exhilarating ones which became lifelong memories. Each of the host families threw themselves into a flurry of life changing experiences for the Swedish children and staff. The welcoming warmth exuded by our host families spoke volumes of the ingrained value systems which make up the essence of our vision and mission at VPMS.
The guests spent sometime with the Principal following which the children were picked up by their respective host families.The children returned to the teachers at the hotel the same day. Pontus and Lovisa expressed their wish to go to their host families, Mr.&Mrs. Shewale and Mr. &Mrs. Shinde, the following day itself. The next couple of days were spent visiting MAHER, Aga Khan Palace and also some relaxation time at VPMS, Pune, swimming in the school pool.
The children went to their respective host families on Saturday evening. On Sunday the Swedish guests along with their host families went to the Katraj zoofor which Mr. Chavan, very graciously arranged for a tempo traveler and Mrs. Shaw took her SUV.They also visited the ISKCON temple on Katraj-Kondhwaroad.
The students and teachers came to school on Monday along with their respective hosts. A special assembly was arranged for the guests. They visited the Pune School in the evening for the Theatre Week and watched the show ‘Heaven is on Earth’. The teachers from Sweden, Sandra, Barbaro and Roberth observed lessons at VPMS, Lohegaon and also the PT and games sessions. The teachers also visited some of the host families to express their gratitude for hosting the children from Sweden. The host families took the children to various places in Pune like Shaniwar Wada, Yashvantrao Chavan garden, P L Deshpande garden, Paper Tells – HandmadePaper Factory, Jogging parks etc.The children went to co curriciular classes along with the host children , they enjoyed dancing, painting diyas, making rangoli and mehendi as well.
The host families threw open their doors to total strangers and treated them like family. Each one of them were wonderful hosts living up to our country’s mantra..ATITHI DEVO BHAVA!
On their last day our guests were presented with some beautiful paintings, and purses.
Thursday evening, when children were dropped back to the hotel where the teachers were staying there were tears and they promised to be back as soon as possible.
Our guests flew back from the Pune International airport on 30th morning with a bag full of memories and unforgettable moments that they would cherish.
Day 1: 21st Oct – Swedish guests arrived at VPMS, Lohegaon. They had lunch with the Principal and then the children were taken by the respective host families to their houses. The children were dropped back to the Hotel Brookside where their teachers were staying.
Day 2: 22nd Oct – The guests visited the Phoenix mall. Two of the children Pontus and Lovisa returned to their host families in the evening. They enjoyed the Dandiya night and watched the Ravan Dahan with their host families.
Day 3: 23rd Oct – Mrs. Shinde and Mrs.Shewale took Pontus and Lovisa to SOS Balgram Children’s village & AgaKhan Palace. The other children and teachers visited ‘Maher’ along with our Accounts In charge Mr. Anthony. The rest of the day was spent relaxing at the hotel.
Day 4: 24th Oct – A visit to VPMS Pune and relaxation time. The Swedish teachers and children along with some of the host families also enjoyed a swim in the school pool. That evening the rest of the Swedish students also went to their respective host families. In keeping up with the fervor of the season, they spent their day painting diyas ,visiting the nursery at 509 Chowk for lanterns and plants, jogging park at Kalyani Nagar playing indoor games and dancing.
Day 5: 25th Oct – The Swedish guests along with their hosts visited the Katraj Zoo and ISKCON temple. Mr. Shewale. Mrs. Shaw were kind enough to take out time from their schedule and accompany the guests. The teachers visited Mrs. & Mr. Dhamne’s residence to express their gratitude for hosting Alva, a grade 7 student from their school.
Day 6: 26th Oct –The students attended school along with their hosts. A special assembly was arranged for the Swedish guests. The teachers observed classes and interacted with the children and the school teachers. That evening, they also visited the Pune School to watch the program ‘Heaven is on Earth’ as part of VPMS, Pune’s 25th Jubilee Celebration.
Day 7: 27th Oct – It was a regular school day for the children where they attended regular periods and also participated in co-curricular activities. The respective host families took the children out in the evening to places like Shanivar wada, Yashvantrao Chavan garden, Paper Tells – a handmade paper factory, while some of them spent time at home making lanterns and decorating diyas and making Rangolis.The teachers visited Mrs. & Mr. Pawar’s residence to express their gratitude for hosting Ida, a grade 7 student from their school.
Day 8: 28th Oct – It was regular school again for the children. The Swedish children gave a presentation about their school,to the students of STD III to X.
This evening the teachers visited the Shaw’s residence who was hosting Jonathan a grade 6 student.
Day 9: 29th Oct –The last day of their visit, it was interaction time for VPMS Lohegaon teachers and the Swedish teachers. The teachers shared their experiences in teaching and the similarities and differences in the way of living and education in India and Sweden.
Before leaving the Principal,Mrs. Mrinalini Bhosale, gave some beautiful paintings as gifts for the school as well as to the guests.
The children were dropped back to the hotel by the respective host families in the evening.
Day 10: 30th Oct – Our guests flew back to Sweden from Pune Airport.
It was indeed an enriching experience to have this team with us. The exchange of cultural and educational experiences left an indelible mark on both, the team visiting us as well as the host school.