Through a partnership with the Doon School and Welham Girls School in Dehradun, Groton School offers students and faculty the opportunity to engage directly with the people, places, and issues encountered in India’s towns and villages. Dehradun is in the foothills of the Himalayas, sandwiched between two of India’s major rivers--the Ganges and the Yamuna. Groton India takes place during spring vacation, in March, when temperatures are in the mid 70s and the water in the rivers is starting to swell from the melting snow of the Himalayas.
The Doon School and Welham Girls School are two of India’s prominent private schools. Our students enjoy their interactions with their Indian peers as they live in the dorms and maybe even get to play a game of cricket. Groton students attend a few classes in these schools and participate in some of their activities, but for the most part they spend their time working on their host school’s community projects. In 2012, our students worked on the Bindal Slum and Street Smart projects, both initiatives of Shaila Brijnath, a resident of Dehradun. The Bindal is a dry river bed alongside the Doon School that carries water during the monsoons. Every year after the monsoons, the Bindal community rebuilds its homes. Our students, together with the Doon boys, worked most afternoons teaching the children of this slum how to read and write in English. The Street Smart project takes children off the streets to teach them the basics of reading and writing. Our students engage and connect with these children through art and craft projects and other cultural activities where language is not a barrier.
While our interactions with the service projects of Doon and Welham will remain our focus for years to come, each March trip to India will be enhanced differently, based on the professional interests of the faculty leaders involved. This year’s trip was led by photography teacher Monika Andersson and history teacher Tom Lamont. Both have explored Indian culture and history through independent travels and research, which have had a dynamic impact on the topics surveyed in their classrooms at Groton.
In addition to time in Dehradun, Groton India participants trek in the Himalayas, tour Delhi, go white water rafting on the Ganges, and visit the Taj Mahal. The development of Groton India stems from the School’s desire to establish more opportunities for students and faculty in global education. Virtually all participants find the experience memorable, many find it life-altering, and some say it shapes their attitudes toward their lives and careers.