SHIKSHAMITRA is a process for learning to live better. It is a space where one

learns to keep well and to help others keep well too. Shikshamitra has an address.

However, it goes beyond this – permeating into the lives of many, influencing

one’s choices in life and ways of life. To be associated with Shikshamitra is to assume

the responsibility of trying to live better. It is a continuous attempt to search for

activities that inspire life and build trust, or, it is an attempt to keep away from

anything to the contrary. Shikshamitra is a means toward becoming aware of

how much one can be and knowing exactly what one’s limitations are.

July 01, 2008


On a very dreary Monday morning, students of Shikshamitra welcomed students from The Dwight School in New York City, USA. These Dwight students were visiting Kolkata in an exchange program organized in collaboration with Calcutta International School. They came with a big black rolling suitcase that, over the course of the fun-filled morning, gradually became a lot lighter.

The morning started out a bit quiet as we went around the room and all introduced ourselves. We sat in a circle looking at each other and feeling a bit shy, perhaps -- but the Dwight coordinators, Ellen and Libby wasted no time in breaking the ice. They soon made three games of that old American favorite "stocking feet game," TWISTER, appear out of their magic black bag! We broke into three groups and got started! Then they started picking the top players from each group for a show-off that really got everyone into the spirit. It was good, healthy competition at its best, and all for fun!

Next, our students put on two exciting dance performances, a mime skit about how money talks, and one drama that the students dreampt up about one poor old Bengali man being tormented by a fly and a mosquito! These drew great applause from our very receptive audience. It was time to break for tea and biscuits.

Following our break time, we tried a project with solarization where you put objects onto photographic paper and expose it to sunlight, of which there was none to speak of. No matter - because we had a great time arranging objects and making friendship bracelets for each other out of colorful pipe cleaners, that also appeared out of the bag at some point in the course of the morning. The "special paper" was left with us and on the next sunny day, you can be sure it will be experimented with again. It is wonderful how bringing out craft materials can really bring people together, kids starting talking to one another, helping each other arrange the objects, cutting out shapes for each other and drawing pictures together.

Lastly, out of the big black bag came beautiful t-shirts that The Dwight School group had made for Shikshamitra students. We cannot begin to thank them for such a practical and useful gift. We have decided to "keep these for good" to be used when we go for outings or as representatives of our school to other NGOs. We will share the Twister game and all the silliness it mysteriously is known to unlock, with other people in the community as well.

At the very end, after adult supervisors had repeatedly yelled out, "really, we have to go, get ready....," just right after our big group photo, we all broke into song...

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine away....

I'm sure a lot of nice exchanges were made and we hope that we can continue this link with our new friends in the future! We wish to say a big thank you to all the Dwight students for coming, and for taking an interest in our school. It is encouraging to all of us. After all the excitement of the day, we had a very special goodbye at Shikshamitra – with every child quietly settling down into meditation and after being tapped on the shoulder, leaving for home, one by one in complete doubt with thoughts of all that happened at school and sunshine in their hearts!


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