Planning a school trip brings with it more than the responsibility of administration and organisation. The challenge is on educators’ shoulders to choose a destination that can engage young hearts and minds in such a way that deep and active learning can be achieved by virtue of their immersion in the culture. India is such a place â€“ a school trip to this bustling hub of colour and culture can be both life changing and life affirming for young minds.
The reach of a school trip to India is immense and, depending on the curriculum, can take in a plethora of significant religious sites, community projects, and aspects of local traditions and culture. The most successful itineraries will incorporate all of these in order to give pupils a well-rounded view of the country, but also some breathing space in a place that can quite often be a shock to their cultural system.
Exploring an Unfamiliar Society
For a school trip with a focus on economical and socio-political studies, experiencing the stark societal differences in India can furnish young learners with valuable insight. While observing the marked pollution and rubbish that accompanies everyday life may be confronting at times, it provides an excellent opportunity for them to contemplate the need for environmental consciousness.
At a different level, a visit to a community project like Father Ravi’s Shelter, which works with the homeless children of Delhi, can offer a deeper understanding of the troubling socio-economic problems of the city and the way this dedicated group is working to combat them.
A melting pot of religious beliefs exist side-by-side in India, with the relics and contemporary trappings of Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism on constant display. Students will have the opportunity to visit significant sites of worship and witness first-hand how, even in the midst of such broad diversity, tolerance and peaceful co-existence can and do endure.
In the holy city of Rishikesh they can join in the important Hindu ritual called Ganga Aarti, which involves an offering of fire â€“ in this case a small floating candle called a diya â€“ dispatched down the River Ganges, accompanied by prayers and devotional songs. While in Delhi they can take part in a community food programme at the splendid Sikh temple, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, where volunteers prepare food and visitors of all races and religions are welcome to partake.
Discovering Local Culture
India’s identity is defined by its deep-seated cultural intonations. For young people, exploring the cities and rural regions allows them to see how its ancient traditions and contemporary innovations are inextricably entwined.
An excursion to rural craft villages offers another dimension to a tour, and Dilli Haat is a fascinating depiction of tradition in action. The bazaar is a compilation of 62 stalls, whose products are displayed according to their owner’s state of birth for a period of 15 days. With an array of exquisite wares, from sandalwood carvings to silk saris, it’s an intriguing cross-section of creative industry. The Aravali Eco Village offers an immersive experience of a different kind, where visitors stay overnight and get the chance to interact in local dances, crafts, and ceremonies.
Exploring a society so starkly different to their own in every way will take young people beyond their comfort zone and provide an entirely new facet to their worldview.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in school trip itineraries for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid traveller, John is very passionate about providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom. By sharing his expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and bring their studies to life.
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