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By Fr. Dr. Francis Swamy SJ
Dec 3rd, 2018

Education cannot be confined to a classroom and should be explored outwards.

The International Students’ Exchange Programme 2018, “Rabindranath Tagore”, between St Mary’s School, Mumbai, India and St. Xavier’s School, Godavari, Nepal was held, keeping in mind this very ideal and practice of giving exposure to our students, to help them learn beyond the four walled classroom.

The first leg of the programme was undertaken by St. Mary’s School, ICSE. A contingent of boys from classes 8 and 9 were led by their teachers, Mr. Austine Vas and Mr. Sabin Castelino to St. Xavier’s School in Nepal on the 30th of October, 2018.

On arrival at the Katmandu airport, the contingent was escorted to Godavari Ashram and were welcomed by the rector Rev. Fr. David s.j. and the Principal Rev. Fr. Samuel Simmick, s.j. The boys were then given a briefing of the plans which involved activities ranging from visiting places of historical and cultural significance to participating in school activities and in the sports along with the pupils of St. Xavier’s, Nepal.

The students visited beautiful places on various days like the Chandragiri hills which overlooked the Himalayas and caught a glimpse of the Everest, through the long range binoculars. They visited palaces and royal temples like the one at Pashupatinath, which is a legendary pilgrimage centre even for the majority of Indian Hindu faithful.

The boys witnessed the majesty of nature in Nepal and also the resilience of a people who were hit by a massive earthquake in 2015 that shattered the whole country. The people have now bounced back and museum dedicated to this struggle and restoration was an inspiration for all our students.

The Nepal trip was planned out into two parts:

Our student’s visit to their school to experience the literary aspect of education and the other part was to participate in the sport’s competitions organized on the sport’s day.

As we arrived at the St. Xavier’s school – Nepal we were escorted into the reputed Xavier’s hall and were briefed about the school’s history. We were then taken around to get acquainted with the scenic surroundings. We were told about the effects of the recent earthquake that devastated Nepal and how the staff, students and the management of the school worked tirelessly in order to restore normalcy by leaving no stone unturned in keeping the rescue operations running smoothly. In fact the classes 11 and 12 were restarted in record time.

Later we were ushered into the assembly premises and were welcomed by the entire school with much warmth and affection. The national anthem of India and Nepal were sung and we felt very much at home with the friendly environment.

The Vice Principal of St Xavier’s Nepal organized a cultural programme starting with an ice-breaker session, followed by a variety entertainment including a personal sharing. A guided tour of the school was then conducted for our boys. Later in the day, the boys were engaged in playing games of football, basketball and badminton in an informal encounter in order to build up for the well planned sports day that followed.

At the end of the day, the boys exchanged gifts and shared their memorable experiences.

On the sports day, a variety of athletic competitions were organized both in track and field events. The boys from both the schools participated actively, vying with each other for the winner’s slot. It was heartening to see our school boys competing with their rivals who were top athletes in the inter-school level and some of whom also participated at the national level.

The spirit of St Mary’s soared high when our boys fought out with perseverance and zeal to defeat the higher secondary champions of St Xavier’s in the Tug-of-War event. Our boys won this title in the inter school event with a glorious 2-0 victory.

The boys spent six magical days in Nepal, learning about the culture and traditions of the people, their simple food habits. They relished a variety of Nepali delicacies. However, the greatest lesson learnt was the resilience of the Nepalese in combating their adversity during the recent natural calamity, in the form of an earthquake. The Marian boys returned home stronger, refreshed and enriched with knowledge. They also learnt to be sensitive and compassionate to the world, specially to our neighbors in Nepal.