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MONTREAL, MARCH 29, 2016 – Royal West Academy in Montreal West just wrapped up its latest International Student Exchange. Present-day teachers Andre Vamvakas and Angelos Diacoumacos and retired faculty member Sidney Westlake accompanied 20 Grade 9 students to New Delhi, Rajasthan and the Mumbai, Maharashtra regions of India.

The students and staff were billeted with Indian families of Venkateshwar Global School of Rohini, New Delhi, who had visited Canada a year ago. For eight days the delegation experienced Indian life first-hand. The town was approximately 25 km from New Delhi, India’s capital, and one of its most exciting and vibrant cities. “The entire Canadian entourage was received with a rousing heart felt reception when we arrived, attended by all the Indian families at the Indira Gandhi International Airport,” said Mr. Vamvakas.

A few days later the delegation was received at the school with a formal welcoming ceremony that included traditional and modern dances performed by the student body as well as many other splendid artistic performances. The itinerary included visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Qutub Minar, the Chattarpur Temple, and the Gandhi Museum in New Delhi. “We took in a spectacular India-style musical at the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon and the impressive Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple Complex where we experienced many facets of Indian spiritual origins and customs,” said Mr. Vamvakas.

The program was culminated by a trip to the Pratapgarh Farm for a day of fun and recreation for the students. Leaving New Delhi after eight days was very difficult everyone, after spending time with host families of Venkateshwar Global School. They got to experience exquisite Indian food, hospitality and kindness. Living with the families was an experience unlike any that could have been experienced in a classroom. Royal West wishes to thank Principal Kavita Soni, Principal, hosts Shweta Poddar, Sarita Thakral and Preeti Phutela, and all the wonderful staff and students of the Venkateshawar Global School and the administration and staff of the other sister Venkateshwar International schools which welcomed Royal West in Dwarka.

The journey continued to Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in the state of Rajasthan for two days. The safari into the reserve did not yield many tiger sightings, but nonetheless they did witness many protected local wildlife and spectacular scenery. They then ventured to Jaipur (the Pink City), the capital of Rajasthan to take in the Jantar Matar, an elephant ride at Amber Fort, and shopping at its world-renowned bazaars. Khimsar sand dunes and the Khimsar Fort were the next stops where the weather was ideal and the scenery breathtaking. It was then on to Jodhpur (the Blue City), and the Mehrangarh Fort.

The delegation departed from Rajasthan after seven magnificent days and flew to Mumbai, Maharashtra, for the last leg of the trip. Mumbai, India’s capital of commerce and home to Bollywood and glamour, was an experience for the senses. The students got to enjoy the sites and sounds of a truly unique and exciting city, with visits to Elephanta Island and the many landmarks such as the Gateway of India, the Taj Hotel, and a Bollywood studio in the heart of Mumbai. As the students and staff bid farewell on the last day, many tears were shed for the great friendships forged with their Indian hosts and their families, with the promise that they would meet again.

Here is a link to the students` reflections.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213