Update from Jeevan: summer vacation in Pondicherry
This year during the Summer vacation, we took 50 kids and 10 teachers and spent almost two days travelling South to the charming town of Pondicherry. Our cosy guesthouse was only a few minutes away from the beach - where we spent a considerable part of our two weeks swimming and playing :-D
For many of our students, who ranged from 4 to 22 years, it was the first time ever seeing the ocean. They were amazed by the seemingly endless water, the pull of the waves, the salty taste of the water, the freshness of the ongoing breeze... Imagine, experiencing the beauty of all of this for the first time?
Of course, after the novelty of the Bay of Bengal wore off a bit, we started discovering the towns of Pondicherry and Auroville, where we met lots of inspiring people that widened the horizons of our students even further - you'll be able to read a bit more about that below.
For us teachers, being witness to the opening of eyes and minds of our students was THE biggest reward of this trip. The swimming in the ocean was great, too, although for teachers, continous worrying about students' safety doesn't make for a relaxed swim. Plus, for many of our teachers, it was the first time in the ocean, too :-)
The train ride itself was an adventure - over 30 hours with so many kids scattered over the train. However, all of us managed to sleep a bit, despite the continuous attendance checking, organizing of food and water, and entertaining the little ones.
And then, after a two-day trip, the ocean: The kids running into the water, very careful and a bit scared first. With each day, they gained confidence. The water can be dangerous there, but our rules were clear and usually followed. Only a few times did we have to send out a student who didn't listen :-D
Our accomodations were lovely, too: We had a whole guesthouse, a roof top and a big kitchen area, just a few minutes away from the ocean. Many of us slept on the floor, which is perfect in the heat. There were 6 different "families", who shared the cooking and cleaning.
Learning about sustainability
In Auroville, we saw many places where people invested in re-forestation, organic farming, sustainable building, and solar power. Thus, our kids experienced first-hand what environmental friendly living can mean. They were amazed at the beauty of it, and for most of them it was the first time they saw such efforts.
Things we did
We visitied many places in small and big groups including: Sadhna Forest, the Orchard of Auroville, the beach promenade and the bazaars of Pondicherry, the Auroville Botanical Garden, a restaurant, the Frence Consulate, shopping trips, and - for the older ones - meditation in the Golden Temple.
If you know us, you know that we always think about food - where to get the best and the biggest variety for our kids. In Pondicherry, too, a lot of planning and thought revolved around food. We had many dishes that were totally new for the kids: Dried shrimps, fried prawns, South Indian cuisine with fish, pasta, or Nannari sherbet with Sarsaparilla (Basil seeds). And, of course, there were so many delicious fruit, cheaper than in Varanasi. Mangoes, water melon, different mangoes, plums...
What an amazing summer vacation....We want to go back!