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East meets West-project 2019-2020

About our project...

East meets west is a unique project where two Finnish schools from Eastern and Western Finland co-operate with two Indian schools. The project was funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education. The schools are Lappeenrannan Lyseon lukio and Ulvila Upper Secondary School from Finland, and the Indian schools are Barnes School from Nashik and St. Marks Girls Senior Secondary School. This blog was set up to introduce the project and the including study trip to India in the eyes of the students. (Korjattu)

First meeting between Ulvila and Lappeenranta upper secondary school students and teachers

Teachers Anu Huttunen and Petteri Mertala from Lappeenranta and Meri Mölsä and Katja Siivonen from Ulvila got together and started planning and organizing the project in early spring 2019. In September 2019 teacher and project coordinator Anu Huttunen arrived in Ulvila with Lappeenranta upper secondary school students Viivi P., Moona, Viivi R., Anna and Saara. The participating students from Ulvila, Salla, Veera, Noora, Milla and Emilia hosted the students from Lappeenranta for a couple of days. The goal was to get to know each other before our excursion to India, and also to create innovative business ideas for the Indian market. Business ideas were later presented in Indian schools, Barnes School and St.Marks Girls School.

Amazing Ahalya Ganesh from Tampere University educating us about India and Indian culture.
Visiting Sampo-Rosenlew.
Students doing short business idea exercises.
Salla and Noora are working intensively.
Exploring products and creating a customer-profile based on chosen products.

Students created business ideas about safety, travelling, fashion and recycling. They also put together presentations and websites that tell more about their business ideas etc. The students created a SWOT analysis about the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats regarding their business ideas as if they were actually real companies and products.

Loitsu Reflector by Milla and Anna.
Capsule Closet by Viivi P. and Salla.
Live Like a Local by Viivi R. and Noora.
Foodents by Saara and Emilia.
Sarisea by Moona and Veera.

30th of november - The First Impression of India

Places that we visited during our two-week excursion to India.
Paharganj, New Delhi.

The first day started when our group landed to Delhi’s airport. At first we noticed that the air in Delhi is much heavier to breathe than in Finland. Our next stop was our hotel where we are going to stay before travelling to Nasik. Our plan for the day was to visit the Red Fort and to take a tour around Connaught Place. Also, we went to the city center with tuktuks. On the way we saw what a disaster Delhi’s traffic is. There are holy cows, and five family members riding on the same scooter. At the end of the day everyone was pretty tired and ready to sleep.

Exploring New Delhi.

Arriving to New Delhi

On Friday the 29th of November we left from Helsinki Vantaa airport to New Delhi, India. We were welcomed with a warm weather and a foggy sky on Saturday morning. From the airport we took small buses to our hotel which was located in Connaught Place.

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.

Red Fort, New Delhi
Inside Red Fort.

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 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.

Exploring New Delhi metro chart.

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"

Today we are moving to our first host families. Before seeing them we need to travel many hours by airplane and bus before we arrive in Devlali in the city of Nasik. Actually we had a few funny coincidences on the way. The first one was that our bus, where we were supposed to travel six hours, was too small. The second one was that our travel guide, who was one of the teachers from our host school, didn’t always tell the truth. For example, he said to his colleague: ”I can see the school gates”, even though we were half an hour from the school. When we arrived to the school, we had a really beautiful welcoming ceremony. The night we stayed in our host families.

Bus ride!
Viivi receiving her welcoming.

Monday 2nd of December - Our first day in Devlali (Maharashtra)

The day started in a very different way to what we are used to back home. The whole school gathered in the school yard for an assembly. “School, attention!” and the sounds of drums marked the beginning of every day in Barnes School.

"School, attention!"

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. The 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.

Noora trying to avoid getting caught by another player.
Kho kho!

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 Christian. Every morning we started our day by saying a prayer and listening to an extract from the Bible and we sang the national anthem of India. After our morning assembly some of us joined a history class and some a biology class.

After very interesting history and biology classes we had cultural 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 cultural program we also had a quiz about facts of the other country (Indians answered questions about Finland and vice versa).

Dance performance by students of Barnes School.

After the cultural program we had cooking. We cooked Indian food, for example aloo paratha, vada pav and for dessert suji ka halwa.

Cooking Class.

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.

Viivi R. and Milla with their beautiful sarees.

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.

Economics Class

After classes we went to the bus and left to visit a place called Taket. Taket had the only temple of a Hindu deity called Jatayu. Even though the day was very hot and the bus ride 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.

Temple of a Hindu deity called Jatayu.
Details.

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.

Windmills.

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 Barnes. We had about one hour to rehearse our business ideas. After rehearsing them we presented them to the students and teachers. After presentations we had some time to play a fun quiz game. We Finns played against Indian students and we won! The game was really fun! The day went on and we went to mall. In the mall we had so much fun. Some of the girls went to eat at Domino’s and it was delicious!

Teachers having a lovely meal in the mall.

Then we went to a local newspaper press called Lokmat. When we had toured and seen the newspaper press we continued on the bus and went to a church. After visiting the church we went back to school and in the evening we had a bonfire. We danced and we played some games and ate delicious food!

Lokmat.
Lokmat and bonfire in the evening.

Friday 6th of December - Independence Day of Finland

It was time to leave Barnes School and travel to Mumbai airport. It was 2 am and we were loading the bus with our luggage. We had so much luggage that the back door of the bus 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 at 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 a 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 a 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 a long day of traveling we all fell asleep quite early.

Happy Finns celebrating Independence Day of Finland.

Saturday 7th of December - Humayun´s tomb.

Buying metro tickets, which cost around 30 rupee (0,5 euro).

The day started early and we went straight to the Subway station and to Jor Bagh and after that we took tuk-tuks to go see Humayun’s tomb. There were many buildings to see and take pictures of. After that we took tuk-tuks back to the hotel. We had some free time and we ate at Domino's and a few of the girls got their nails done. We were so tired afterwards that we went for a nap.

Isa Khan’s Garden Tomb from the 15th century.
Surroundings and details of beautiful Isa Khan's Garden tomb.
Humayun’s tomb from the 16th century.

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. It went by fast, though, because most of us used the time to get 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.

Details inside Agra Fort.
Inside Agra Fort.
Inside Agra Fort.
A view to Taj Mahal from Arga 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, it’s something I’ll never forget.

One of the Gates to Taj Mahal.
Beautiful Taj Mahal.

After we left the Taj Mahal we all wanted to visit one more place that our tour guide had told us about. It’s a shop that still uses the same technique that was used to make the Taj Mahal to make beautiful marble items that have carvings.

Artisanship that has been mastered for centuries in India.

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 Girls Senior Secondary 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.

Teacher Katja receiving her welcome.

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.

Making recycled paper.
Happy students: Milla, Viivi P. and Viivi R.

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.

Yoga and meditation class.

After the yoga class we had a 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.

Music class.

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.

Thrilling lemon race.

The last activity of the day was 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.

Basketball.
Volleyball.

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 the school day ended. It was a fun day filled with lots of different types of activities. (korjattu)

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 the Sikh religion and there were a few guys playing religious music. We also visited a kitchen where they made free food for everyone. In Sikh religion they think that everyone is equal so that’s why the food was not only for the poor people but also for the rich people as well.

New Delhi traffic.

From the Sikh temple we continued our way to the Lotus temple, which I wished to see during 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 was 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 silent and listen to nothing but the silence after two weeks of loud noises.

Lotus Temple, Bahá’í House of Worship.
Details of Lotus Temple.

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 come to have a yoga session or a picnic. We saw some people even studying there. No wonder, because it was so calm there. I liked the garden, because it was green and there weren’t that many people. The sad thing was that we had so little time there.

Lodi Garden.
Lodi Garden.

From all the three destinations, Lotus temple was definitely my favorite. 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 all the Finnish people that work in the embassy live there and there are also the Embassy buildings themselves so it is understandable. Before our visit was over we heard about Business Finland which is an 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 gate of the embassy of Finland weighs about 10 000 kilograms!

Embassy of Finland: Sauna, pool, the ambassador’s house designed by Finnish architects Raili and Reima Pietilä who also designed the building in Mäntyniemi Finland, which is the official home of the President of Finland.

From the embassy we went back to the families and spent the evening with them.

Anu had a beautiful hand painted elephant on her nail.
Klaudia had beautiful henna tattoos on her hands.

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 a 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 day India.

Worli Art.
Making Flower Rangoli.
Dance performance.

After art classes we watched students of St. Marks Girls School performing in music, dancing and exchanged mementos with the principal and teachers coordinating the project.

Monkeys!

Later that evening teachers Anu, Meri and Katja went to see the 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. The architectural style of the temple is said to be an example of modern Indian architecture (Nagara style). The highest point (shikhara) of the temple reaches up to 160 feet (50 meters).

Birla Mandir.

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 sense of movement and presence in Pandit’s characters was breathtaking.

-Arun Pandit
Resonance in Time.

The 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 senses.

"India is a food lover's paradise and a vegetarian's heaven." -Meri

On behalf of all participating students and teachers we want to thank Barnes School and St. Marks Girls School and their students and host families for everything! We’ll continue our project in Finland when students of Ulvila visit Lappeenranta in March 2020.

FINAL project meeting in Lappeenranta

Approximately 2 months after our trip to India, the students from Ulvila headed over to Lappeenranta for a final project meeting. During the two-day visit to Lappeenranta, we further expanded our knowledge on India and the differences between Finnish and Indian working life, had an introductory class in ashtanga yoga, and revisited both some familiar flavours and the best and most memorable moments of our trip.

Project feedback.
Sharing memories.

Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT kindly invited us to their campus in Lappeenranta on Thursday and we had a chance to discuss with some staff and students originally from India. After a short introduction to LUT by Anne Makkonen, we heard an interesting presentation from Sushma Jagadeesh about the differences between Finnish and Indian working life. We were all in awe by Sushma’s impressive skills in Finnish after only a few years of living in Finland! Furthermore, we had an interesting discussion with two students pursuing their doctoral studies at LUT.

Introduction by Anne Makkonen, University of Technology LUT.

We already had a quick introduction to yoga in India, but now we had a chance to hear a bit more about the ideology behind yoga and to try ashtanga yoga with the expertise of yoga instructor Maarit Makkonen. The first day in Lappeenranta was finished off with a delicious dinner in a Nepalese restaurant. The evening was filled with memories from India as we discussed the food and other topics.

Friday was dedicated to revisiting our trip to India. Each of us had chosen a photo (or a few) that reminded of a good memory or that summed up the visit somehow. We had a lot of fun looking back at the trip and telling stories! We also dedicated time to feedback and making sure that the future projects can be as good as possible. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed meeting each other again and one thing is sure: none of us will ever forget the experiences we’ve had during this project!