Japalouppe – Horseriding Camp 2013

“I believe the name of a place or institute provides an energy which embodies what the place is striving to achieve or stand for”. Rohan More, who opened the Japalouppe equestrian centre fifteen years ago, has answered the question “Why Japalouppe” several times. Instead of a diminishing enthusiasm or irritation by repeatedly answering this age old question, the smile on his face told us a different story. The enjoyment he felt as a result of recounting why he called his centre “Japalouppe” showed me regardless of monetary gain, he genuinely loved what he did.

“The name of the farm is inspired by ‘Jappeloup’, a small French horse who dreamed of big things. By regular standards, Jappeloup was considered too short to ever succeed in the world of show-jumping. Jappeloup and his rider Pierre Durand were determined to prove themselves despite being written off by critics as being too small to succeed in show-jumping. Unfazed by the challenges facing them, Jappeloup and Pierre Durand went on to become legendary in the world of show-jumping, overcoming odds by sheer determination, winning a gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games.”[1]

 For every horse riding session, I began with trivial, petty thoughts about homework assignments and college applications. After every second on horseback, I slowly began to realize the beautiful environment, the majesty of the horses and a sense of belonging in this world. With a full moon rising in a clear blue sky, every session on horseback left me with a feeling that there is such beauty in the world; our everyday trials and tribulations are insignificant. I remembered a stanza of a poem which I read the first night at camp:

 
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers, Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

This feeling of beauty, love and peace is what horseback riding gave me. Only when I lay awake at night, in the silence of Jappeloup, did I discover how much I really loved riding horses.



[1] http://www.japalouppe.com/who_we_are.html

Manav Sadhana (Sabarmati Ashram) – Ahmedabad

Mahatma Gandhi resided here for 12 years of his life. It was at Sabarmati where Gandhi Ji vowed to return only when India attained independence, a promise he couldn’t fulfill as passed away before he could return.

Gandhi Ji started a school at Sabarmati Ashram where studies were based on social value versus academic theory. This was the setting of our art workshop with the kids of his school – Manav Sadhana.

For the workshop, we went to a courtyard where the floor was covered entirely with soft sand. The children lined up into rows and Ms Monica gave an introduction to what we were going to do for the workshop. The excitement and enthusiasm I could see within the children was amazing and the workshop hadn’t even begun yet! The children were divided into groups of 10 with 2 students (Anushka and I were paired together) to teach them the Gond art form (dot painting art forms). Each group of 10 were accompanied by a teacher to help us translate Hindi to Gujarati as the children were fluent only in the latter.

I loved how across the courtyard, some groups sat on the sand in the centre, some sat under the shade of trees, some on the porch of small huts and a few groups on elevated platforms. Across the courtyard there was an air of joy and happiness. I felt that Mahatma Gandhi’s hand slowly guided the children as they painted during the activity because the precision and skill with which they painted was unbelievable! After they painted we took group photographs with them. They love being photographed and it was great to make them feel like the VIP’s of the place. They would sing songs, dance, recite movie dialogues in front of the camera which was hilarious, entertaining and heart warming too.  We donated all the paints used in the activity to Manav Sadhana as well as the cutouts of Gond art figures.

I will not forget that day. A day experiencing Mahatma Gandhi’s messages of enjoying the joy of service and being the change we want to see in the world.

– Vikramaditya Joshi, Std XII

Seeds of Peace Mock Parliament – 2013

Mock Parliament is a Seeds of Peace conference wherein the Pakistani Parliament is simulated and current issues between India and Pakistan are discussed so that we (Indians) can understand the view of the “other side”. However this year, as part of the Organizing Committee and Secretariat for Mock Parliament, we decided to modify procedure by having a CCC (Contemporary Crisis Committee) comprising of both members of the Pakistani AND Indian parliament. In this way we can have the views of BOTH the sides so that in the simulation we can see what it is like for both the sides to hash out their differences. The other committee this year (we decided to add a second committee to mock parliament) was a Security Council with the agenda being the India-Pakistan conflict. In this way – this committee would provide a world view of the India Pakistan conflict with a group of International member nations.

A week prior to the conference we organized a Digital Video Conference or DVC with Pakistani students wherein we prepared questions for them to answer. They provided us with a perspective of the Pakistani news, politics, economy and common view. It was really interesting to hear the way India is portrayed by the Pakistani Media. An odd misconception that I learned about is that Pakistani kids believe that the Shiv Sena is a terrorist organization prevalent in India which isn’t true. This DVC was a great set up for the conference.

During the conference, due to the fact that my committee comprised on both Pakistani and Indian Ministers, there was a considerable amount of ‘mud slinging’ at the start of the conference. I had foreseen there being certain accusations and allegations by both sides regarding the Line of Control Violations, Indus Water Treaties etc however I did not expect the ‘blame game’ to continue for the first 3 hours in committee. It was only when I intervened along with my co-directors that the delegates got back on track to attempt to find a solution to the Kashmir conflict. Post-lunch we presented the delegates with a scenario that many historians, economists and politicians hypothesize about – the Chinese expanding their territory not only in Arunachal Pradesh but in IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir) and POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir).

The delegates, at first flustered as to how to react sensibly to the situation, gradually moved towards uniting the Pakistani and Indian blocs towards working as a United Front against the Chinese. However the directive they attempted to pass in our committee was vague and impractical. As a guest delegate, Sharad Pawar, I had to explain that in order to remain realistic the delegates must create a directive which can actually be implemented in the world today considering the economic and political situation prevalent today. Following this intervention a comprehensive directive was drafted and almost anonymously passed ending the crisis.

The second day saw our committee drafting a resolution to the Kashmir issue. This was a mammoth task. As a director of the committee, I was aware of the fact that this was not going to be an easy task for the delegates. During the lunch break on the second day we organized a question answer session for the committee to ask anything in order to help them work towards a holistic all encompassing resolution which could bring about a change in Kashmir. This session proved to be vital as the session following lunch (which was the last session of the conference) saw the delegates really be creative innovative imaginative YET remain rooted in reality. The resolution was extremely impressive. However when debate began and amendments were introduced – the vigilant committee found innumerable flaws in the resolution. The debate was intense and emotions were running high. Every vote counted in committee and each clause was to be voted on. At the end, the resolution (though imperfect) was passed by this committee by a single vote.

This conference helped me understand the gravity of the Indo-Pak issue. Never before had I researched the issue with such depth. The issue is not simply a religious feud between Hindus and Muslims. There are many facets to this issue – Terrorism, Economic dominance, Human Rights etc. This discovery of the sheer immensity of the task our generation has to bring these two nations together I believe that along with conferences such as Mock Parliament follow up programs should be implemented so as to have cross border discussions. This way both Pakistani children along with us will be allowed to discuss our views and even if arguments arise – only through having these arguments can be build bridges rather than walls. We all must learn how to make our point without making an enemy for that is real tact.

– Vikramaditya Joshi, Std XII

Welfare of Stray Dogs

‪10th January 2013‬
‪Today I saw the rough and violent side of dogs brought to WSD. I saw an animal carrier with a couple of strays in it, and the trauma they must go through as they were dragged, kicking and squealing by their throats, into the shelter.The only consolation was that they will be much happier animals afterwards: like the very dogs I was walking.‬

‪ ‬
6th May 2013
‪Today I arrived just at meal time. I had to wait a bit, but I got to see the dogs being fed. What I found remarkable was the perfect harmony in which they ate their portions, even sampling the fare of neighbours.‬

‪At meal time, peace and quiet reigned.‬
‪Pretty soon after they had finished, the typical yapping and barking began as each dog displayed its eagerness to get outside.‬
‪This made me consider that though my trips to the kennels may occasionally feel monotonous, the wagging tails and eager eyes put paid to all such feelings.‬

– Shalom Palkhivala, Std XII

Social Entrepreneurship – CAS in action as a career!

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

According to Greg Dees (Center For The Advancement Of Social Entrepreneurship)Social Entrepreneurships comprise of the following characteristics:

*        Adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value)

*        Recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities that serve mission

*        Engaging in a process of continuous, innovation, adaptation and learning

*        Acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand

*        Exhibiting heightened accountability to the constituencies served and for outcomes   created

 

The Social Entrepreneurship Framework:

*        Innovation

*        View a social problem as a business opportunity

*        Grow or scale to enhance mission

*        Metrics based on social impact

*        Collaboration (among individuals and sectors)

*        Include all sectors and industries

*        Application of appropriate business/social enhancement strategies

*        Non-traditional revenue/value generating strategies for the organization

*        Mobilize financial and human capital

 

Why am I telling you about this?

*        It is an emerging field which has courses in top universities around the world

*        It is a sector which hasn’t been researched into much depth therefore the room for expansion and opportunity is HUGE

*        India is a constantly growing market which has played home to several successful entrepreneurs.

*        Social Entrepreneurs require people with expertise not only in Business but Communication, Psychology, Mathematics, Information Technology etc

*        This field allows you network with the vast community of social entrepreneurs who are ‘change makers’

*        With Social Entrepreneurship – you can MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Earth Day at BIS

 

“The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.”

Hours of planning (Days would be a more appropriate measure.)

I would never have thought that doing a simple awareness raising campaign would have taken so much effort. From sending emails to every single students, not once or twice but a million times! Not even being limited to emails but whatsapps, texts, bbms and calls! I had to visit the xeroxing store which offers the cheapest rates so as to save on expenditure at least 7 times! In addition to save cost on unnecessary trips with the car I had to walk to the Xerox place 5 out of those 7 times.

Next came the presentation in school, taking the survey of 110 students in BIS on my own by going every single day in a week in break and lunch (using old used printer paper for the students to record their answers on so as to be ethical in my survey taking process). I would have thought asking a few questions to students would be really easy and I would be done in a day (however I got done with ONE CLASS PER DAY instead of the whole survey in one day). The students would yell and scream and it would take so much energy to make them calm down and listen, however some classes did respond AMAZINGLY well.  The moment I finished taking the survey I forgot that I didn’t even record my results yet. So one day, 6 hours non-stop I collated the results into a word document and then made each result into a bar graph and a PowerPoint presentation. I sent this to every single student in the school 4 months ago and reminded them via all forms of communication to see this presentation. I got 3 responses. 3 out of 200 odd students. I couldn’t believe it. But that didn’t stop me from continuing. Earth Day was coming up on April 22nd and one random day when I had no work left I thought why not celebrate our earth and use everything I have done to make a REAL difference.  I realized the importance of communicating. I spoke to teachers in the staff room and many of them supported my cause as well as explained to me the way teachers too forget to switch of the lights in the staff room.

The week before Earth Day I woke up 2 days in a row at 6 am to hurry off to school and put my mini reminders next to every single switchboard and tap all over school. After all the work, tomorrow is Earth day and after Earth day it’s over….Oh wait! The follow up programme begins! I will have to take the survey again to see if any change has occurred, make a list of consequences for classes who don’t respect the resources in school and co-ordinate with the student government (whom I have called for a meeting this week in lunch with all the class representatives).

I have loved working on my own for every single second of this earth day but I can’t even begin to imagine what a campaign it could have been with a full support team. But still an unforgettable experience which allowed me to really appreciate all the effort people put in to fight for a cause they believe in, the same way I want to learn how to conquer all the causes I believe in.

THE CAS AWARENESS PROJECT (A survey i have taken in school, showing how we as students treat our environment)

Recycling CD’s – Earth Day (Innovative ways to recycle your CD’s)

– Vikramaditya Joshi, XI, IBDP

 

 

Visit to Purushwadi – Man’s Village!

The Summer Army stood behind the mountain with its blazing guns. The Winter Army had forced it into hiding for so long that the soldiers were now burning with the desire to retaliate. The soldiers loaded their guns with sunbeams and at the crack of dawn, they began to attack. Rays of heat and light flew towards the tender earth and began to drive away the Winter Forces. Although the Chills tried to dodge the gleaming ammunition, they were unable to endure the attack and were forced to hide and find a new place where they could plot their revenge. The entire Summer Army had climbed over the mountain now and it began to colonise the land. The Flowers and Leaves were petrified and they found it extremely difficult to endure the sweltering presence of the new inhabitants. The Grass began to dry up, the Leaves became lighter and the River too struggled to survive. However, this oppression did not last too long. When the evening arrived, the Winter Army began to retaliate and drive away the Heat. It poured rain drops, threw bolts of lightening and even thundered. Soon, the soldiers climbed back over the mountain and once again the Winds circled around the land. And everyday the same war took place, till one day, the opposing sides realised how futile the conflict was. They realised how the more they resisted each other, the more impossible it became for them to co-exist and the more the land suffered. They therefore signed a peace treaty called Spring which marked the beginning of growth, prosperity and happiness in the land.

 

And what better place to witness this ‘peace treaty’ than in a village, where the humans value and live in harmony with nature. Therefore, the Std. XI students along with the exchange students from Colegio Europa, Spain, went to Purushwadi, Maharashtra. We were accompanied by our teachers – Ms. Nita, Ms. Pranali and the principal of Colegio Europa, Ms. Maria. We were given a warm and traditional welcome by the villagers when we arrived at the campsite after a long car ride. But that was just the beginning of our interaction with them. Throughout the course of the camp, we spent several hours with them from eating meals at their houses to helping them pound the stored rice. We even visited a local school where we spoke to the children and also saw how they learned. We also spent a lot of time walking around the village, absorbing the atmosphere, the culture and talking to the villagers. This experience was an eye-opener as we realised how limited their resources are. Almost all houses have no source of electricity, their facilities are extremely poor, but they’re content with their lives and are trying to progress despite their adversity.

 

Apart from interacting with the villagers, we also had a photography workshop where we learned how to use our cameras effectively. We learned more about picture composition and the different types of pictures. We then walked around the village and clicked our own pictures. Not only did we enjoy this activity, but the villagers too enjoyed being photographed. Their smiling faces were glowing. It was truly a moment to capture.

 

Our adventure activities such as jhumaring and commando bridge were a lot of fun. They gave us a chance to overcome our fears (like those of heights) and realise our full potential. We also had a scavenger hunt through which we were able to further explore the village.

 

We learned a great deal from the environment. At first we found it extremely difficult to tolerate the scorching heat during the day while having to clad ourselves in jackets to remain warm through the chilly nights. Also, we weren’t used to living with such limited facilities. However, I felt that the moment I stopped resisting my surroundings but let go and tried to blend with my environment, I was able to enjoy myself much more. I was no longer restrained, but in fact I was invigorated by my surroundings. I was able to withstand the heat and I learned how to appreciate the star studded night sky instead of complaining about the weather. I was even able to overcome my fear of the campsite dog to a certain extent. We also bonded a lot with each other and the Spanish students and we got to know them much better through this experience.

 

For me, the highlight of the camp was watching the twinkling stars illuminate the sky. There were moments when the dog became silent and the moon was howling. It was almost as if it was just me and the sky, as if I had escaped into a world of endless possibilities.

 

Therefore, through this camp, we experienced spring in many forms. It was no longer just an external, natural phenomenon and just like the Summer and Winter Forces, we were able to blend with the villagers, with the Spanish students and with the environment and were able to grow and achieve happiness. I realised that spring is not about the dominance of a single force. In the words of Frances Hodgson Burnett “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

BIS Rising

February 14, 2013

The students and staff of BIS participated in a movement started by the IBDP students  called “BIS Rising” which is part of a worldwide phenomenon called One Billion Rising. In a nutshell, this movement is to show solidarity with women who are oppressed and abused all over the world and to take a pledge to safeguard womens’ rights.

A series of events will be taking place in the month of February as part of this movement. We started with the IB production of “Antigone” on February 1 where the proceeds of the show were donated to Nanhi Kali. Std 6 is going to have a bake sale to raise funds for the same organisation as well and every class is going to do their bit in different ways.
Today the entire secondary school came together in the school compound to dance to the One Billion Rising anthem, “Break the Chain” Flashmob style. Dance was chosen as the medium of expression as there is truly nothing as liberating as moving your body to a rhythm. Happily, many of the boys and male members of our school also joined in to show their support.

And it’s not over yet! We look forward to participation from everyone to make sure that this effort does not end with today’s dance. We welcome ideas and initiatives from the whole school to make this a sustained effort to bring about change for women and girls in our country and all over the world.

CAS Activities Roundup 2012

CAS@BIS 2012 3

Please click on the link above to watch an audio-visual reflection of the year that has gone by. 

Another great year of CAS at BIS! These photos are representative of just some of the things we have done towards fulfilling our CAS requirements. What we have gained through the process though is immeasurable. It is moments like these that make the darkness fade and bring light to our lives instead. Here’s to the New Year with the hope that we will have many more such moments!

Evening at St Jude India

As we walk up the stairs to the St. Jude’s care center, for some the anxiety builds, for some the excitement. For some the nervousness and discomfort sets in of being around children who have to face such a serious illness, for some the rollercoaster of emotions begin. However all the worry, the apprehension, the unease just melts away when you see the smiling faces of the children. We don’t see children agonizing over their sickness, we see children enjoying each and every moment of their life. They are so active and upbeat, each child has more energy than all of us put together.

The floors of the space were pristine and the rooms look extremely cozy and neat. The documentary they show us, clearly elucidates the tremendous impact St.Jude’s is making the 10000 + lives of children all over their centers in India. The children have just finished eating their food and we go down to the garden to play games such as grandmother’s footsteps, Simon says and the number game. The children respond so enthusiastically which is so heartwarming and pleasing to see and more so to feel.

They scream, dance, sing, regularly beat up Avi and do it all with a huge smile on their face. They love holding our hands and walking around and I notice that before every round of each game whether it was part of the game or not, they take the hands of the people around them. The girls of the center don’t leave any of the girls from B.I.S alone for even one second. Throughout the passing the parcel (which is the last game we play before leaving) the girl children sit in all the girls’ laps which is really moving and incredible to see.

They love music and each person who loses in the last game receives a Let’s Be Well Red Gudness bar. The B.I.S kids who lose have to perform a “punishment “ of either singing or dancing which makes the kids laugh a lot. At the end when we are leaving the kids go wild and yell uncontrollably in delight until we leave the room. Their exuberance and liveliness fuel our attitude in the activity. The energy in the room is surrounded with an air of positivity and happiness.

The few hours we spent at the center flew by and that small visit meant so much for them. Money can help to a certain extent to keep the centres functioning, but investing time in the way in which we did, can really help make a difference to the children’s lives.

Vikramaditya Joshi

Std 11