It was value addition for Mahatma students after an interaction with students from Sweden

Two Swedish students knelt on the floor amidst a pile of cardboard, trying to find the letters to spell out a name. Ten other students cheered them on. When they finally triumphed spontaneous applause and laughter broke out around the room. The game, of guessing and recreating the names of famous orphans, continued.

As part of Mahatma School's International School Award Programme, a group of Swedish students were invited to take part in an interactive session with their Indian counterparts. The session was designed to throw up perspectives on a variety of subjects, ranging from orphans and street children in India to the effects of tourism on environment.

“Through the ISA programme, we attempt to achieve a level of internationalism in our curriculum, which is beneficial for our students,” said Jeyashri Sundar, vice principal, Mahatma K K Nagar.  . “The Swedish students and their accompanying teachers gave us four topics they were interested in exploring. We then chose five students each from the school's four branches and asked them to make presentations on those topics,” she said. This preparedness led to couple of illuminating hours.

For Johan Lundgren, Master of Education at the Global School in Lidingo, Sweden, this was an opportunity for his students to get a new perspective on the problems in India, and how the country attempted to deal with them. “Coming to India is part of a project that the students have to complete in their final year, ,” he said. It involves choosing and exploring a topic relevant to India. . It culminates with a fortnight's visit to the country where the students get a first-hand experience of seeing the problem, understanding the hindrances, if any, in solving the problem and the measures taken by the government and non-government organisations. “The basic aim is students should look at a different culture, appreciate it, discover societal problems and compare and contrast how the problem is solved here and how it is dealt with back home ,” he said.

Joel Blanke, one of the Swedish students, had the time of his life. His subject, on the importance of primary education, took him to a number of government schools in Chennai. He and fellow student Viktoria Bengtsson, both described it as the “best trip” they had ever taken and it was an incredible eye-opener.

. “It is so easy to just say that if corruption didn't exist and all children went to school the problem would be solved. But coming here and looking at the system, shows you what really ails the structure. Awareness about the importance of education, the teacher student ratio and the curriculum all play a part,” he said.

After returning, he and Victoria will complete their written work before presenting it to an audience.

As for the Mahatma students, this was not their first “international” interaction. But each experience of the past gives them the benefit of a new, valued experience.  “Not only does it improve our English language skills, we also gain confidence in presenting something to an audience,” said M Prithviraj.

A skill no doubt, that will come in handy for their future.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012