About our project...
East meets the west is a unique project where two finnish schools from eastern and western Finland co-operate with two schools from India. The project got funding from the Finnish National Agency for Education. Schools are Lappeenrannan Lyseon lukio and Ulvila Upper Secondary school from Finland, the indian schools are Barnes School from Nashik and St. Marks Girls Senior Secondary school.
First meeting between Ulvila and Lappeenranta upper secondary school students and teachers
Teachers Anu Huttunen, Petteri Mertala, Meri Mölsä and Katja Siivonen of Lappeenranta and Ulvila got together and started project planning and organizing early spring 2019. On Sempember 2019 students of Lappeenranta upper secondary school and their teacher and project coordinator Anu Huttunen arrived to Ulvila with students Viivi P., Moona, Viivi R., Anna and Saara. Participating students Salla, Veera, Noora, Milla and Emilia hosted students of Lappeenranta for couple of days. The goal was to get to know each others before our excursion to India and also to create innovative business ideas for Indian markets. Business ideas were later presented in Indian schools Barnes School and St.Marks Girls School.
Students created business ideas about safety, travelling, fashion and recycling. They also put together presentations and websites that tell more about business ideas etc. Students created SWOT-analysis about Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats concerning their business ideas as if they were actually real companies and products.
30th of nowember - The First Impression of India
The first day start when your group landed to Delhi´s airport. At the first we notice that the air in Delhi is much heavier to breath than in Finland. Our next stop is our hotel where we are going to stay before moving to Nasik. Our plan for today is to visit the Red Fort and take a tour around the Delhi Connaught Place. Also, we go to city center with tuktukes. On the way we see what a disaster is Delhi’s traffic. There is holy cows and five-member-family riding on the same scooter. The end of the day everyone is pretty tired and ready to sleep.
Arriving to New Delhi
On Friday the 29th of November we left from Helsinki Vantaa airport to New Delhi, India. We were welcomed with warm weather and a foggy sky on Saturday morning. From the airport we took some small busses to our hotel which was located in Connaught Place.
After settling down at the hotel we took the metro to go see the city. We didn’t have many plans for the day, but we wanted to see The Red Fort and we took some time walking around the fort and after buying the tickets we went inside the fort and the place was beautiful. There we saw some amazing architecture and took pictures.
After the visit we took some tuk tuks and went to a local Bazaar so see some street shops and have something to eat. The trip with the tuk tuks was a real experience since we really weren’t used to New Delhi’s crazy traffic. We were constantly amazed at the skills the drivers have to avoid any car crashes. Once we arrived to the bazaar we directly went to look for a restaurant because all of us were starting to get really hungry. We all got to eat different types of delicious Indian food with some rice and naan bread.
When we were done we headed back to the hotel and this time we decided to walk back since the hotel was not too far away. Once we had arrived, most of us were really tired and the rest of the day we either slept or just talked in the hotel rooms with our roommates. The first day was very relaxed but also a great way to get to start to know India and its capital.
First of december - "I Can See the School’s Gate"
This day we are moving to our first host families. Before seeing them we need to travel many hours using airplane and buss until will arrive to Devlavli the city of Nasik. Actually we had few funny coincidence on the way. The first one was that our buss was too small where we suppose to travel six hours. The second one was that our travel guide, who was one of our techers from our host school, didn’t tell the truth always. For example, he said to his colega: ”I can see the school’s gate”, even we were half an hour far away from the school. When we arrive to the school, we have really beautiful welcoming seremon. The night we are staying in our host families.
Monday 2nd of December - Our first day in Devlali (Maharashtra)
The day started in a very different way what we had used have back home. The whole school gathered in the school yard for opening ceremony. “School, attention!” and the sounds of drums marked the beginning every day in Barnes School.
Then we had some lessons to follow and the tour around the school area. Some buildings dated back to early 20th century while some parts were as modern as one could imagine. The dorms where students slept were unique for our eyes. In the afternoon we played an indian tag game called kho kho. An interesting game was actually very tactical. Noora was our finnish star player. Then, later we had a soccer match India vs. Finland. Despite the recent success in the European fields, we lost 2-1.
Tuesday 3rd of December
We were staying in our host families in Devlali Nashik. We attended a school named Barnes school which was located in the India’s army area. The school was Catholic. Every morning we started our day by saying a pray and listened an extract from the Bible and we sang the national anthem of India. After our morning assembly some of us joined to a history class and some to the biology class.
After a very interesting history and biology class we had a culture program. Girls from the Barnes school performed a dance and their band performed beautiful songs to us. We sang the finnish song "Maailman toisella puolen" by Haloo Helsinki. In our culture program we also had a quiz about facts from the opposite countries (Indians answered questions about Finland and the same vice versa).
After the culture program we had cooking. We cooked Indian foods for example aloo paratha, vada pav and for dessert suji ka halwa.
We spent the evening in our host families. My host sister, me, Viivi and her host sister and host father went for saree shopping. Buying a saree was a wonderful experience. Our host families wanted to buy them for us as a gift. We were very happy about them.
Wednesday 4th of December
Today was our third day here in Devlali. As usual we started our morning at the school assembly. According to our schedule today we were supposed to start the day at 6am with a trek to Pandavlena, but unfortunately it got cancelled… After the assembly we had free time to practise our business presentations which we will present on Thursday.
Next we joined some classes. We had two options to choose from: biology and economics. We split into two groups and I joined the economics class. The topic of the lesson was unemployment in India. The teacher taught how unemployment forms a vicious circle and how unemployment affects India’s economy and society. At the end of the lesson we did group work with the indian students and we tried to think of ways how the government could reduce unemployment in the future.
After class we went to the bus and left to visit a place called Taket. Taket had the only tempel of a Hindu deity called Jatayu. Even though the day was very hot and the busride felt very long it was worth it. Taket was very beautiful. We explored the place a bit and took some pictures. After that we started heading back to school for lunch.
After eating lunch we drove to the countryside to see windmills. The windmills were built so that the local farmers had electricity. Once again the place was very beautiful and we took a lot of pictures. The next thing we visited was a Shrine of Infant Jesus. After that we went back to the bus and on the way to the school we were dropped to our host families.
Thursday 5th of December
Since it was our last evening and night with the host family it meant that I had to pack my luggage. After that I went to Nasik with my host family. We did some shopping and then had a dinner together. It was a nice evening and I felt a bit sad that we only had one more day left in Devlali.
Our school day started at 8 o´clock when we arrived to the Barnes. We had time about one hour to rehearsal our business ideas. After rehearsing them we presented them to the students and teachers. After presentations we had some time to play fun quiz game. We Finns played against Indian students and we won! The game was really fun! The day goes on and we went to mall. In the mall we had so fun. Some of the girls went to eat Domino’s and it was delicious!
Friday 6th of December - Independence Day of Finland
It was time to leave from the Barnes school and travel to Mumbai airport. It was 2 am and we were loading the buss with our luggage. We had so much luggage that the back door of the buss didn't close. The door had to be closed with wires. The drive was quite long, but everyone fell asleep as soon as we left from the school. We arrived at the airport 7 am. Everything went quite smoothly at the airport, but the flight was delayed.
After arriving at Delhi airport, we went to our hotel using the underground. It was quite a challenge with our luggage, but we managed. At the hotel we had some free time. We went to supermarket to buy some snacks and water. Then we had some time to take a nap and get ready for the dinner. In the evening we went together to a restaurant. We had Finnish flags with us because it was our Independence Day. We had good time at the restaurant. We talked about the things we love about Finland and ate delicious food. After paying the bill we stood up and sang our national anthem. Also, when we were walking to our hotel, we sang patriotic Finnish songs. We were so tired after long day of traveling we all fell asleep quite early.
Saturday 7th of December - Humayun´s tomb.
The Day started early and we did go straight to Subway station to Jorpak and after that we took tuk-tuk to go to see Humayun´s tomb. The were many buildings to see and take pictures with. After that we took tuk-tuks back to hotel. We had some free time and we ate at Domino's and few of the girls got their nails done. We were so tired after that so we go for a nap.
Sunday 8th of December - The monument of love
Today we visited Agra. Our day started early when our tourist bus arrived to pick us up from our hotel at 7 o’clock. Then started the four hour journey to Agra. Tho it went by fast because most of us used the time to get in some extra hours of sleep. We arrived at our first destination, Agra fort, at 11 o’clock. There we met our tour guide for the day and started our tour of Agra fort.
After our tour of Agra fort we went to eat lunch at a hotel and after that we headed towards Taj Mahal.
We had to leave our bus quite far away from the entrance so we continued our journey in a golf cart.
After we got our tickets we headed in. We were all excited about visiting one of the seven wonders of the world. It was amazing, beautiful and breathtaking, its something I’ll never forget.
After we left the Taj Mahal we all wanted to visit one more place that our tour guide had told us about. Its a shop that still uses the same technique that was used to make the Taj Mahal to make beautiful marble items that have carvings.
After that our day started to reach its end and we started the drive back to the hotel. The night ended with us ordering fries from room service.
Monday 9th of December - First day at St.Mark’s School
We got up around 9 am and ate breakfast at the hotel. By 10.20 am everyone was outside with their bags packed and ready to head to the next destination: St.Mark’s Senior Secondary Public School. When we arrived at the school we met our hosts and received a traditional welcome where we were given garlands and a red dot, “tikka”, was applied on our foreheads.
After the warm welcome we were given a tour around the school. We visited the school library, the junior wing and the laboratories. We also got to learn how the school recycles paper. The used paper is made into pulp, mixed into water in a mold and then pressed flat to make new paper. The new sheets of paper are then hung up to dry. It was very interesting to see how you can reuse paper yourself instead of taking it to a recycling bin like in Finland.
At the end of the day we played badminton at the school’s indoor badminton court. A light game was a nice way to end the school day.
Tuesday 10th of December - Classes and Sports Day
School started at 8.30 am and the first class we had was a relaxing yoga class. We started with a few warm up exercises and then moved on to the yoga. First we did a basic yoga sequence and then tried different poses like a handstand and the splits. The class ended with a calming meditation. It was a fun and relaxing way to start the day.
After the yoga class we had music class. The classroom was on the rooftop and it was quite small but also cozy. We also sat on the floor which was quite different from music classes in Finland. The school’s music teacher and a few students taught us lines from a Hindi song and we Finns also taught lines from a Finnish song.
The school was holding their Annual Sports Day so after the music class we got to go watch the students of class 1 to 5 compete in many different races like hurdle race, balancing a book race, skipping race and many more. We also participated in a race where you carry a lemon to the finish line on a spoon that you hold with your mouth. At the end of the Sports Day medals were given to the winners and even the winners of our lemon race got medals.
The last activity of the day were our presentations but before that we had some time to play sports together with our hosts and teachers. It was also a good way to get energized before our presentations.
After playing for a little while we went inside and gave our presentations to our hosts, our teachers and teachers from the school. The presentations went well and we received good questions and feedback. After our presentations we were shown a video about the school’s philosophy and achievements and then one of the students from St.Mark’s school told us about her trip to Lappeenranta and showed pictures. After the presentations school ended. It was a fun day filled with lots of different types of activities.
Wednesday 11th of December: Almost like in Finland - Visiting Embassy of Finland
Today we had a heritage tour in Delhi. After that we visited the Embassy of Finland. I had been waiting for this day to come since I was excited about the visit to the embassy before I even came to India.
The first destination of the tour was a sikh temple. It wasn’t that big as I first thought it would be but it was quite beautiful anyways. It was very interesting to see how to behave in the sanctuaries of other religions. We had to take our shoes and socks off and cover our hair with a scarf. Inside the temple there was the holy book of sikh religion and there were few guys playing religious music. We visited also a kitchen where they made free food for everyone. In sikh religion they think that everyone is equal so that’s why the food were not only for the poor people but also for the rich people as well.
From sikh temple we continued our way to Lotus temple, which I wished to see on our trip to India. I like the idea that it was built to look like a lotus flower. It was beautiful around the temple because the area was very green and clean. The only minus was that there were a lot of visitors and tourists and many of them took pictures of us. The temple was for people from all religions and backgrounds and that’s why I found the place very special. Inside the temple there were a quiet and calm atmosphere. We sat there for a while and I even closed my eyes for a while. It was lovely to be silently and listen nothing but the silence after two weeks of loud noises.
We had our lunch break in a garden called Lodi. It was our last destination on our heritage tour. Lodi garden is a place where the locals would come to have a yoga session or a picnic. We saw some people even studying there. No wonders, because it was so calm there. I liked the garden, because it was green and there weren’t that many people. Sad thing was that we had so little time there.
From all the three destinations, Lotus temple was definitely my favorite one. From Lodi Garden we left by a taxi to the Embassy of Finland. First, we heard some information about the embassy and what they do there. Our group had some good questions. While listening we got some snacks and lemonade. Then we continued outdoors. We walked through the embassy area and saw the sauna building for example! The whole area was very homey and peaceful. It felt almost like we were in Finland. The area is pretty big: 20 000 square meters! But there lives all the finnish people that work in the Embassy and there are also the Embassy buildings itself so it is understandable. Before our visit was over we heard about what is Business Finland which is a organization to increase growth by helping companies to globalise more and by funding innovations. I was pretty tired already and that’s why I don’t remember a lot about the presentation. Fun fact: the port of the embassy of Finland weighs about 10 000 kilograms!
From the embassy we went back to the families and spent the evening with them.
Thursday 12th of December - Last day before travelling back to Finland
On our last day we had a cultural program and classes of art, dance and cooking in St.Marks School. First we started with dancing class and then started doing Worli (Warli) art. This style has a lot of elements of ancient tribal art and is still practiced in modern days India.
After Art classes we watched students of St.Marks Girls School to give performances in music, dancing and exchanged mementos with principal and teachers coordinating the project.
Later that evening teachers Anu, Meri and Katja went to see famous Hindu temple Birla Mandir (also known as The Laxminarayan Temple) and exploring art in Art Heritage Gallery, New Delhi. Birla Mandir was built by Birla family during 1933-1939. Architectural style of temple is said to be an example of modern Indian architecture (Nagara-style). Highest point (shikhara) of temple reaches up to 160 feet (50 meters).
Art Heritage gallery had at least four different gallery spaces and exhibitions at the moment. The most amazing experience was Arun Pandit´s Resonance in Time-exhibition. Pandit´s huge bronze sculptures are influenced by french artist Auguste Rodin. Through his sculptures he reflects his thoughts between humanity and living in the shadow of modern technology and society and traditions. Bronze casting is a very complex and challenging technique to master and the sence of movement and presence in Pandit´s characters was breathtaking.
Last day brought bittersweet feelings because everybody was eager to go back home but still melancholic thoughts came in mind because our wonderful excursion to India had come to an end. We will never forget the warm hospitality of our Indian hosts, chaotic but yet flowing traffic, finger licking good food, beautiful architecture and monuments and stimulation of all five sences.