Exchange Program Grace Church School 2015
Our exchange with Grace Church School in New York has been a very exhilarating
and memorable experience. It all started when the 18 of us met at the Indira Gandhi
National Airport T-3 on 8th May. We all bade goodbye to our parents and assembled
in a line waiting to get inside the airport. Once inside, we immediately headed to
collect our boarding passes and deposit our check in baggage. We filled out our
immigration form and stood in line for passport control as in routine. We were an
hour early so we decided to sit for a while before going to our gate. All of us were
drowsy and languid for we had missed about 6-7 hours of our sleep and were
constantly dozing off. Finally the time came to board the plane and I think everyone
slept except me. I was really tired but I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep! After
trying for an hour to sleep I gave up, and decided to watch a couple of movies. They
were very interesting and thankfully after the third one I nodded off into a deep
slumber. I woke up just before we were about to land in Istanbul and decided to
listen to some music till we landed. As I was disembarking the plane, I remembered
the ear exercises that our teacher, Mrs Shukla, made us do every morning after the
assembly in school. Thanks to that my ears didn’t pop!
Finally after 14 long gruelling hours of bad food and sleepless hours we touched
down at the John F Kennedy Airport. We then had to wait an hour in the passport
control line because we gave them the wrong address of where we were supposed
to stay. After that it was a blur – vibrant colours, musty smells and quiet tranquillity
all around the airport. Then we were out, it took my brain a moment to register that
I was in New York. The view was pretty simple – oak and linden trees, concrete
buildings, flyovers but then, we got into the city and it was breathtakingly,
absolutely spectacular. The air felt fresh and cool and at 6 in the evening the sun
was still burning bright.
The next day we went on a tour of the city – we saw the Statue of Liberty, the
Museum Of The History Of American Immigration, we went up to the 82nd floor of
the Empire State Building, the view was enthralling, the cars looked liked tiny tissue
packs which I had carried from India, after that we went to the Times Square and
watched The Matilda Show in Broadway, which was a sheer delight.
On Sunday morning our hosts from the Grace Church School picked us up. My host
was very warm and welcoming and gave me a good feel of New York. From the huge
skyscrapers of Manhattan, the clean walk able streets of the city, delicious food and
of course the culture and diversity of the place, my experience of the city has been
I was able to see my favourite painting “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh in the
Museum of Modern Art. I couldn’t believe my eyes!! There it was, absolutely
stunning. I have a replica at home, but to actually see the original was a totally
New York indeed has made an indelible impression on me, thanks to my wonderful
host and his family, who supported and helped me throughout this trip to enjoy and
savour every second of this beautiful place.
In my view, the schools in New York are very different from schools in India. In the
schools outside our country children do a lot of extra curricular activities and write
lesser than we do. I also observed that the lesson plans are better than ours because
they don’t just focus on basic education but also on things which can be used in our
daily life. I felt that schools outside India look at the bigger perspective and in my
opinion that makes them better.
I particularly liked Grace Church School because they give their students a lot of
flexibility and independence and along with that, responsibility. This I like because it
establishes a lot of trust between the student and the teacher. This trust is very
important because if you have that then you will feel that you have a lot of safety
and comfort and that you can rely on someone.
Boston is a totally different city compared to New York, it’s more of a historic and
scenic place unlike New York, which is bustling with people and is fast paced in a
business like manner.
I had an amazing time in Boston, we did many fun activities such as – Whale
Watching. We went on a tour where we sat on an amphibious vehicle which could go
in land and water and saw all of Boston’s historic sights such as The Massachusetts
State house, The Old State House, the place where the Boston Massacre took place,
Boston Common and so on.
Washington was a mix of both New York and Boston, it was green and it had a lot of
politics. We saw the White House, the Washington Monument; we ate one of the best
pizzas of Washington in the National Harbour and played on the beach.
To tell you the truth I wasn’t ready for the 9-hour journey ahead with the terrible
food, but I was eager to visit Istanbul because I had read that the city was full of
culture, history and religion.
Just as I had imagined, Istanbul was beautiful- the lovely blue of the sea, the majestic
palaces, mosques, castles, crowded bazaars, colourful stalls, cobbled pathways. I
loved the islands, so isolated yet so connected to the world in their own unique way.
I would love to come back to all these places and explore them more. There is so
much more to absorb and assimilate from these sublime and vibrant cities.
I really appreciate and would like to thank the teachers who planned the trip really
well even though I wished we had more time. From day one we were taken care of,
made to feel comfortable and ensured we had a wonderful trip.
Adi Singh Vohra
Grace Church School Exchange Program 2015
Every alternative year, students from our school visit Grace Church School in New York
City as part of our exchange program with them. This year, eighteen students from class
8 were selected to represent Vasant Valley in Grace Church School where we would live
with the students and go to school with them for a week. Apart from this, we would also
visit other places besides New York such as Boston, Washington D.C. and Istanbul in
The selection process for this Exchange Program included an essay, a presentation,
academic grades and our social responsibility skills. In the end, eight boys and ten girls
were selected. For all of us, it was the first time we were going abroad with our friends
and we were very excited. A few weeks before we left, we started preparing for the show
that we would present in GCS. It comprised of a dance, a play, the school song and a
presentation about Vasant Valley.
Soon, it was time to say goodbye to our friends and family as the day we were to leave
arrived. We were flying Turkish Airlines to JFK airport in New York via a stopover at
Istanbul. We reached New York on the evening of 8th May and were given the day at
leisure to settle to the time difference. The next day was a tour of Manhattan that
included going to the Ellis Island where the Statue of Liberty is situated. We also
watched the Broadway show ‘Matilda’ which was truly a magnificent spectacle.
The next day, we were greeted by our host families and went with them to their homes.
The following week would be spent going to school with them. This was a very special
experience for all of us as we learnt how families over there lived and how their culture
and day-to-day life was so different from ours. Grace Church School itself was also in
many ways different from Vasant Valley. We would attend classes with our hosts and be
part of the school community for a week. This was perhaps the most enriching
experience of the whole trip. On our last day at the school, we presented the show that
we had prepared for Grace Church School. Everyone really enjoyed it and at the end, all
the hosts were invited to join in the dance, which was an amusing event.
On 16th May, we left our host families and started on our journey to Boston in
Massachusetts. There we visited Harvard Square, a prominent shopping district near
Harvard University. We also had a guided tour of the city by a man in 17-century clothes,
who pretended to be three hundred years old! Nonetheless, we all found it a very
innovative and informative tour. We also went for some whale watching and saw some
very large toothed whales. However, the main highlight of our visit to Boston was the
‘Boston Duck Tour’. In this tour, we went on a vehicle that could run on both land and
After this, we took a plane to Washington D.C., the capital of the nation. At first glance, it
appeared to be very similar to Delhi, with low-rise buildings and spaced out areas. We
saw the White House and the Capitol Building in a tour on our bus and also visited the
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The museum, in addition to being one of the
fourteen Smithsonian’s in the world, had exceptional exhibits and really intrigued us and
aroused our curiosity for natural history. On our last day in D.C. and our last day in the
U.S. we were left to do some shopping in a mall. Many of us looked forward to this and
we bought many gifts for our friends and family.
On 21st May, we reached Istanbul in Turkey, the city that is part of two continents. It
reminded us a lot of home with the souvenir shops, street hawkers, the smell of spices in
the air and of course a culture that was very similar to ours. For the first time, after many
days, we got the opportunity to eat proper Indian food and we all gulped it down as soon
as it was given to us. The next day was spent in visiting some mosques and museums
and also The Grand Bazaar that was an enclosed area with thousands of shops for
souvenirs, jewellry, Turkish delights, etc. We also went to an island on a cruise and
experienced some rural atmosphere of Turkey. On our last day, we took a cruise across
the Bosphorus strait, which divided Istanbul into the Asian side and the European side.
To finish of our trip, we paid a visit to the Spice Market where we all bought some spices
and Turkish delights.
We left Istanbul on the 24th May and started the final leg of our journey back to Delhi. We
were all very exhausted after the long excursion and itched to meet our parents and
friends. It was a very beneficial adventure for all of us and we had to digest so many
experiences and learning’s by the end. We had an amazing seventeen days with all our
friends, our teachers, and of course the new friends we had made over there. It was a
special journey that all of us will cherish for many days to come…
Dhruv Rattan Nashier