Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Field trip summary

Apart from being a break of sorts from the 'monotony' of academia, the numerous field trips organized by KIS every year provide a rich cultural experience and exposure to students, instilling in them values that will stand them in good stead for many years to come. For the students themselves, though, the field trip can mean all this, and even more: the chance for togetherness with their best friends, in completely different environments from the ones they are accustomed to, the chance to experience a gamut of new feelings and impressions, to be touched and sometimes disturbed, to gain a deeper understanding of life and society.

This year there were 15 trips organized for high school students, the juniors and seniors being able to select their destination of choice. The grade 9's went on a trip to two charming cultural hotspots in south india, Mahabalipuram and Auroville. Most of the students who went on this field trip are in agreement about the success of its main objective -- undoubtedly, of exposing students to unique cultural experiences. The visit to The Banyan, a home for the mentally ill, gave students an insight into the lives of those not as fortunate as themselves. The sophomore class went on a field trip to Coimbatore. The goal of this trip was to broaden the students' minds, as they interacted with people from different social classes. According to one of the members of this trip, “The best part of the experience was meeting the transvestites, knowing about their stories enlightened me and helped me understand why they're like that. It also made me learn a lot about the harsh norms of society.”

The Cannore Quest trip was one of numerous options available to the junior and senior classes. The students worked with an NGO that cares for the mentally challenged, both children as well as the aged. When asked what the best part of the trip was, one student said, “The meeting with the children was the best part of the trip -- because they were so happy despite their problems. It really makes you count your blessings”.

For the IB Art students, the school organizes an annual trip to Hampi. Full of beautiful heritage sites, the students appreciated the Art, Culture, History and architecture of Hampi. Everyone really enjoyed the trip. For some, the best part of it was merely experiencing Hampi in the company of their friends.

On a different note, the Emote field trip to Chennai was geared towards the media and the performing arts. Using various forms of expression, the students helped raise funds for Prathyasha, an orphange in Chennai. For instance, the students recorded a music video in a professional recording studio. Apart from this being a novel experience for most students, it was a really fullfilling experience, as proceeds from the music video were used to help the orphanage. The students featured in an article, published by a local Chennai newspaper.

As the name suggests, the Kerala Culture field trip was a cultural one, exposing the students to the vibrant and colorful customs, rituals, people and above all, the culture of the state which is described so often as “God's own country”. The students were split up into house boats, and lived on the picturesque backwaters for a few days. For a lot of the students, the serenity of the house boats, made this laidback activity the highlight of the trip. The Mad River field trip was another trip to Kerala focusing on the local people, their main resource (the river), and the teamwork surrounding canoeing. The students used canoes to to get to each destination, and by the end of the trip had acquired an insight into the lives of the locals, as well as an impressive familiarity with the delicate art of canoeing.

If wrangling snakes and tackling crocs is your cup of tea, the King Cobra Adventure is for you! The few brave souls who signed up for the King Cobra Adventure, got what they had bargained for. Learning about the reptilian family, students learnt how to distinguish the length, sex and weight of snakes. They also learnt how to handle snakes. That was not all. Covering its eyes with a cloth, and then weighing it down using the bodyweight of enthusiastic students, a crocodile was captured and moved to a safer place; this being one of the many highlights of the trip.

The Mysore Heritage field trip brought the students to the historically rich city of Mysore. Aspects of History, Culture and Sociology were critically explored. Students absorbed not only the history, and culture, but also had a glimpse into the true essence of this city and its residents. The animal safari was really enjoyed by all, and many point this out as one of the best experiences during this trip.

The 'Health is Wealth' field trip took students to a coastal area in South India, to learn from, and interact with, people from different sub-groups of local society, with the help of an organization called SARDS.. The students met with people infected by HIV, their children, and also learnt about the lives of fishermen firsthand, staying with them in the fishing village, and meeting their families. An annual crowd favorite, the Southern Tip Trip to Nagercoil and the region surrounding it worked out a good balance between social service and fun, or as the students describe it-- between work and play. The students visited a hospital and each student had to contribute in some way to the hospital. This contribution took the form of making posters, performing dances or, in some cases, even white-washing walls. The students also visited a school for the mentally and physically challenged. The students were amazed by the strength of character each of the inmates displayed, despite their disablities, and their final performance was much appreciated by all.

“Green Team Dream” to Mysore was another field trip to the same city, yet with a completely different focus. The objective of this trip was to learn about methods of sustainable agriculture and nutrition. “GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY!” was the response one student gave, when asked what the best part of his field trip was. The students enjoyed getting their hands dirty by not only learning about sustainable farming, but really experiencing all its nitty-gritty .

'Save the Children' was another social experience based field trip, where the students went to centres that sheltered orphans, and others, for mentally and physically challenged children. The Home of Hope is one such centre that cares for children who have lost their parents to land mines, or whose parents are too busy earning a living. Just the sight of a group of visiting students made the day for those unfortunate kids. These visits established for the students the simple truth that these kids just want a taste of the love and caring that they werent able to receive from their parents. The happiness that surges from within these children at the slightest gesture of kindness, despite their deprivation, is truly amazing. This field trip was a real eye-opener for the students, and the students were amazed at how much they were able to learn from those little children. Wilderness Wanderings was another trip, full of hikes and treks in the rainforest of this region. For a lot of students who hadnt been on long treks, this was a new experience and they learnt a lot about the environment, about the conservation of the rainforest.

The multi faceted nature of the experiences each of these fieldtrips offered the students comprise a unique and illuminating insight into individual aspects of the culture and people of this great nation which, by its very existence, celebrates the diversity of human kind.

Rushad Mistry
Class of 2008 - volunteer