The next day, I decided to dress in my salwaar kameez again while we finished packing. The girls of the group got dressed in Saris after breakfast and as I didn’t have a sari for myself as I only bought one for my mother, one of the Teachers kindly offered me hers and helped me put it on. It looked like a confusing task full of folds and draping and a lot of safety pins.
Next, we all descended downstairs for the poster making task of the final day. We presented the resources the teachers could use and explained they had to make posters which refer to lessons they teach. My group made a poster for their class on naming animals in English and Hindi. We decided to draw a big butterfly, which I outlined and they coloured it in eye-catching colours. Other group did fruits and mechanical machines. We then did subject specific mentoring for the last time and began the gift ceremony. We gave the gifts we prepared earlier to all participants and gave separate gifts to the Head Teachers. It was not expected or planned, but they presented us with gifts too. I received bangles and a scarf from a Teacher in my group. We took lots of photos and sat down for lunch outside for the last time. I had my last few cups of small spicy tea and sat in the sun with the group.
When we had finished eating, we got changed and said out sad goodbyes. We then got changed and sadly said our goodbyes. Once I hurled my luggage downstairs, our tut-tut was waiting. Its engine was already jerking and booming. Once we had stopped for gas, and got back on the road, we reached the train station where we met the rest of the group.
We continued on to our train where I realised how exhausted I was so I turned in for the night. When I awoke, we did not have too much time until we got off the train, so I took in the sights out of the window; homes built on the side of the road, people waiting for other trains, cows and loads of odd looking plants and shrubs. The highlight was seeing show monkeys at a station called DumDum Junction. Once we reached Calcutta, we dropped our things off at a hostel and went to the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center. We saw her office and bedroom and a lot of her belongings which are still kept in fantastic condition. We also saw numerous newspaper articles, a timeline of her life and her tomb.
After we left the center, we headed for Calcutta market. The heat was so intense! We went to numerous stalls and shops and bought gifts for our families and friends back home. We did have to haggle for prices though and it wasn’t easy.
Once we were done, we went back to the hostel and got changed. We then said our final goodbyes to Karthik who accompanied us to Calcutta and got in the cab to the airport. Once we reached the airport we were all knackered and ready to get on our flight back to the UK.
My trip to India with the BEN Movement and Impact Teachers was a massive success both personally and as a whole. I had a genuinely amazing and life-changing time learning about Indian culture, education and traditions. I feel that, together with the rest of the team, we really made a lasting impact on the lives of the Teachers and students we met.
‘Til next time…
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