For the eight students from Yashodeep Vidya Mandir in Aurangabad, the four-day study tour to Singapore was their first ever experience of an outside world. The sparkling cleanliness and discipline of the foreign city added to their amazement.
As part of its school upgrade activity, RC Aurangabad Metro, D 3132, tied up with RC Bukit Timah (RCBT), D 3310, Singapore, to organise an educational tour for students. The main objective was to educate them on sanitation, hygiene, cleanliness, and other public issues such as traffic movement, discipline and expose them to the outside world, said Project Chair Chandrakant Chaudhari.
Initially, the club selected 15 students, but seven of them dropped out as their parents feared their wards might not return. The club faced ‘embarrassing queries’ from parents who attributed ‘ulterior motives’ to Rotarians for undertaking the tour to a foreign land.
The annual income of the parents of the shortlisted children is below Rs 1 lakh and they never dreamt that their children will ever fly to some foreign country. Even a visit to a metro like Mumbai for passport and boarding a plane from an international airport became talking points in their taluk. All the students were residents of Khultabad, a taluk 28 km from Aurangabad, and they had never travelled outside their place until now.
One of the students, Divya Kachker, was much impressed by the highly disciplined traffic, designated smoking zones and cleanliness in Singapore. “It was a wonderful education,” she says and wonders if India can be like Singapore one day.
The host club mobilised $2,300 to cover entry fees, conveyance, souvenirs, food and miscellany for the visitors. Three teachers and four Rotarians accompanied the students. The students were given a warm reception at the residence of RCBT President Ajitchandra Sule and Rtn Milan Sule and attended a workshop on Chinese brush painting. The Singapore Rotarians entertained the young guests with their native performances.
A whirlwind visit to the city’s famed tourist spots was a veritable treat for the students. They were surprised to know that the island-city imported water from Malaysia for daily consumption. But with the setting up of NEWater Plant and steps like rainwater harvesting they hope to be self-sufficient by 2020.
The visiting team presented Lavani, a folk dance of Maharashtra, impressing the students of the Global International School in Singapore.