Thursday, 1 August 2019

“This episode of my life was an unforgettable experience”

Gurleen Kaur, a Gold Award participant from Cambridge International School, Phagwara, visited Chail, Himachal Pradesh, for a Residential Project, together with other participants. She narrates her experience and shares insights on what she gained from each aspect of the project.
My experience as a member of the Award Programme was equally enlightening and adventurous. I see my journey as a flight of stairs; beginning with the Bronze Award and ending with the Residential Project for the Gold Award. I opted for the Bronze Award in 2016, keeping the motto ‘service before self’ in mind. We Award participants of Cambridge International School, Phagwara, served senior citizens and kids in an orphanage, to begin with. The earning of the Silver Award gave us a similar experience and filled us with excitement and encouragement to move further for the Gold Award, for which did a Residential Project.
I have always had a fascination for mountains, clear blue skies, vast green meadows and dense forests, all of which I experienced during the Residential Project in Chail, Himachal Pradesh. Lasting for 5 days and 4 nights, the residential camp was at a snow valley. The aim of the camp was to repaint a government school built a few years ago and to make the classroom environment lively through experiential learning. The day began with morning exercises, followed by trekking to reach school and then working on the project. Blue, green and brown were the most used pastel colors of my childhood; little did I know that these colours would forever leave their imprint on my life. Work at the project site was done in groups; each group was allotted the required tools such as paintbrushes and paint, gloves, head-covers etc. Three groups were formed that were asked to paint the washrooms, paint blackboards and the staircase and paint the pillars and the roof of the school, respectively. The groups completed their task within the given time. All the members might have worked in groups to carry out the work, but the team was one. On the last day of the project, all participants worked on the huge wall at the back of the school with a spirit of team work and mutual cooperation. Towards the end, we organized a small learning class and distributed the charts to kindergarten students; some of the charts depicted moral values, while some were related to academics.
I really like interacting with people. Through my interaction with the school students, it dawned upon me that we are so engrossed in our own world that we have lost our capability to look beyond ourselves. We learnt that only when we are exposed to rough terrains wherein we are cut off from civilization and see local people living in harmony and complete submission with nature, do we ponder about life’s hardships.
The day was then followed by adventurous activities such as a full day trek which taught us how to survive in a forest, the zip lining activity which gave me courage and confidence, and the hangman educated me about weights and directions. The lesson that I would take home from these activities is to face fears with strength rather than escaping them. The night treks were equally amusing; the full moon night and clear sky with glittering stars seemed to describe the beauty and serenity of nature. The bonfires at night were symbols of quality time spent.
This episode of my life was unforgettable; the thrill and the enlightenment has transformed me and given me memories that I will recall with a smile on my face throughout my life.

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