It is so rightly said that “life begins at the end of our comfort zone”! We might think that we have a lot to explore and experience within our own country, hometown, or school. But unless we move out of our comfort zone, we will never experience the viewpoints and perceptions of the world around us.
Keeping this in mind, the B.K. Birla Centre for Education arranged to send a group of 29 students and three Escort Teachers to an International Students’ Exchange Programme on 28th June 2017 to Madrid (Spain). This Program was a means to give an international exposure to our students in order to widen their global perspective on a range of worldly matters.
During this Exchange Programme, our students took part in different International Camps hosted at Gredos San Diego School, situated in Buitrago, a small town near Madrid City. It was a 15 days programme where the students participated in:
- Football Camp
- Culinary Event
- Film Making Camp
Majority of our children participated in the Football Camp along with 8 other schools from different parts of the world (USA, Israel, Mexico, Columbia, Spain). Students were given football training by Expert International Coaches where they acquainted themselves with the latest techniques such as Shooting, Passing, Dribbling, Positioning, Transition, and Game Play.
A few students took keen interest in the Film Making Camp where they learnt about the operation of the Professional Film Making Cameras and the steps involved in the making of a Professional Movie.
The students had a very tight Daily Schedule that started early in the morning at 8:00 am with the Breakfast, followed by the Football Technical Training, Internet Surfing, Swimming, Lunch, Football Matches and then Dinner. They also got a chance to learn Spanish during the Spanish Classes arranged for them. Each day spent was a unique experience and they looked forward enthusiastically to the next morning. Their day to day interaction with the other student delegates, from across the world, helped them build lifelong camaraderie with them.
Apart from their regular schedule, students were also taken around for sightseeing. The greatest attraction, for our young football lovers, was a visit to the The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home stadium of Real Madrid. With a seating capacity of 81,044, Santiago Bernabéu is one of the most famous and prestigious football venues in the world. This stadium also showcases the history of Real Madrid through the Trophies’ Exhibition, which houses the Club’s Trophy Collection plus thousands of items that are a part of its heritage, including shirts, balls, photographs and documents. In addition to this huge exhibition of paraphernalia, there were interactive screens showing fascinating audio-visual content that brought the team’s history alive.
Another major attraction was the sightseeing at Segovia. Segovia is a World Heritage City, with unique monuments including a large number of buildings of Jewish origin. The Roman Aqueduct is one of the Roman Empire’s most astounding engineering feats. There are 166 stone arches on granite ashlars that have been set without cement or mortar. The aqueduct gets water from the Fuenfria Spring in the mountains and supplies it to the city. The Segovia Cathedral occupies the highest point of the city. This is the last Gothic Church built in Spain. The most amazing structure was the The Segovia Castle-the Alcazar, first built during Roman times. It was rebuilt several times because it was the favourite castle of the Kings of Castilla. It looks like the bow of a ship today. Our Student Delegates were thrilled to visit these awe-inspiring sites.
Next on our itinerary was a trip to Toledo. Toledo was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986. It was the city of three cultures because Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together for centuries in harmony here. The best architectural monument of Toledo includes The Cathedral which is one of the finest cathedrals of Spain, built on top of a Moorish Mosque. But the most impressive sight was The Alcazar – a big stone Roman Palace and Fort on the highest point of Toledo. The building was also used as a Prison and Military Barrack which was almost destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Students were delighted to witness history on their visit to these spectacular sites.
Last but not the least was the Madrid City Tour under the guidance of Mr. Javier, Director of International Exchange Programme. Visiting a city as big as Madrid was not an easy task. Our students, however, managed to see the Royal Palace, the Prado Museum, Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor Square and the Gran Via Avenue. From the Sprawling Museums to Traditional Restaurants and Shopping Areas, every corner we had turned to, uncovered a breathtaking and stunning sight that etched its impression into our mind and heart.
Self-development and awareness leading to enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem, is often the most noticeable change in every Exchange Returned Student. They also develop a maturity and social poise, fuelled by the necessity to confront challenges outside a familiar support network and comfort zone. Hence to conclude, this Exchange Program trained these young participating students to adapt and learn in a new environment which is such an imperative and powerful skill in shaping them into Successful, Open-minded and truly Global Citizens.