Notes exchanged with guest pupils

Rebekka Klinge knew that Calcutta was the capital of British India but the Danish girl was curious to find out why it is called the City of Joy

By Farah Khatoon in Calcutta
  • Published 7.08.18
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Rebekka Klinge and Dane Liebermann with their friends from Lakshmipat Singhania Academy at the school library. Picture by Biswajit Kundu

• Rebekka Klinge knew that Calcutta was the capital of British India but the Danish girl was curious to find out why it is called the City of Joy

• Dane Liebermann from the US chose India over Germany because he wanted to explore the country

Calcutta: The two are now students of a city school for 10 months.

Lakshmipat Singhania Academy in Alipore is hosting Rebekka and Dane as part of an exchange plan conducted by the American Field Service.

Rebekka, 15, is already familiar with the the syllabus and rules and regulations of her new school. She has also worked on a project for a tech fest at the school recently.

Next on Rebekka's agenda is learning Hindi. "My host family is Gujarati. They speak to their help in Bengali and to others in Hindi. It's an overdose of languages for me. So I have decided to pick up Hindi during my stay here," smiled Rebekka, who is staying with Divya Shah of Class IX.

The girl from Denmark described the city and its people as warm and welcoming. "Everybody greets me with a smile and wants to know how I am doing, be it my classmates, teachers or my host family. I find a lot of warmth here. May be that is what the phrase (City of Joy) means but I need to find out more," said Rebekka, sporting the school's blue physical education (PE) uniform.

Dane is as comfortable with the city as he is in his green PE uniform. "I chose India because I wanted to experience something new. I knew there would be challenges but they would help me in my personal growth," said the 16-year-old.

The Class XI student has visited Victoria Memorial and tasted bhelpuri too.

Two students of Lakhsmipat Singhania Academy are just back from their exchange stints in the US. Akhilesh Jhawar of Class XI spent nine months studying at Sutherlin High School in Oregon, US, and staying with a family of eight. Surbhi Sarda of Class XII studied at Puyallup High School in Washington state.

"I was in a small town of 25,000 where the school had 500 students and no uniform. I played baseball and did some cheerleading as well. I also celebrated Diwali, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween there," said Akhilesh.

Surbhi, on the other hand went to a school with 20,000 students and split her stay between two host families. "I tried hiking and stitched a blouse with my host grandmother that fetched us the third prize at the Washington State Fair," she said.

Jash Shah, who left for the US on Sunday, made sure to carry Indian spices for his hosts.

"We had been looking forward to a longer exchange programme where there would be real cultural exchange with the students staying here. Last year two of our students went abroad and were richer in experience when they returned," principal Meena Kak said.

Jaya Misra, coordinator for the exchange programmes, felt they go a long way in building bonds.