A Visit to Remember

Exchange programs offer a wide range of benefits and outcomes for students.  International learning and knowledge propels children towards acceptance and understanding of different cultures and varied community perspectives. They are a great way for children to gain confidence and critically reflect on their own country and the world in general. They help the students to integrate into another family and develop lifelong friendships thereby fostering an appreciation of home and family.

As part of the memorandum of understanding between Vikhe Patil School and Alvboda Friskola in Skutskar, Sweden, six students and a teacher from VPMS, Lohegaon went to Sweden on 15th May 2017 on a 10 day exchange programme. The expenses of the travel were borne by the students and teacher themselves. The stay in Skutskar was taken care of by Alvboda Friskola , the School in Sweden.

Ananya Shinde of STD VIII, Aastha Dhamne, Shrushti Chavan and Aarushi Pawar of STD IX, Sandra Ann John and Samruddhi Bhosale of STD X, along with Mrs. Swapna Nair visited Alvboda Friskola in Sweden. The students and teacher were placed with host families and attended regular School there. The evenings were spent with the respective families and the students enjoyed learning and exploring the woods and the landscapes in the scenic village of Skutskar. The students created wonderful memories when they exchanged a variety of information and taught each other languages and games, shared cuisines, etc.

Most of the teaching in the schools is done in Swedish, the native language, yet VPMS students attended the Math, Science, English, and cocurricular classes to understand their system of education. The teacher student ratio was found to be 1: 15 on an average. The team also interacted and spent time with the tiny tots which was special as none of the little ones knew English and still they managed to interact and spend around two hours with them. VPMS students gave a presentation on India, her culture, traditions, History and Geography. They also performed a dance integrating the Bharat Natyam from South, Bhangra from North and Garba from West which was appreciated by the Swedish children.

The team visited nearby places of Alvkarleby, Gavle, Uppsala County and some went to Stockholm as well. The visit to the Blacksmith was a memorable one as the team got to make hooks using small iron bars. The long walks in the vast woods, the pristine beaches, pollution free environment and disciplined traffic were all highlights of the visit. One of the unique experiences for the Indian team was being interviewed by the Swedish television on their experiences of living in Sweden.

The host families made their guest so comfortable that no one was home sick. The friendliness and humility of the people was touching. There was never a feeling of being a stranger. Everyone greeted each other with a warm smile. People waited in queues patiently for their turns whether it was at the bakers, train station or hospital. There was a lot to be learnt from their way of life. Students left for India from Arlanda Airport on 25th May 2017. The host families came to see the team off and everyone bid their good- byes with a heavy heart amidst lot of tears and hugs. Lifelong friendships were forged in those 10 days.

Students came back with a determination to implement their learning in making their motherland a better place and a land of equal opportunities.