May, 2017

We stood together, our hearts racing with goose-bumps on our hands. It was a truly glorious moment.

We were representing INDIA! A cold shiver went tickling down our backs as we sang the national anthem for the International Youth Exchange Programme in Germany.

This Exchange Programme has changed us all, and moreover given us a clear insight of the country reckoned differently by people across the world, Germany. This life-changing experience has been wonderful from the start. We all formed an unbreakable bond and memories that we will cherish forever.

It all started on 12th May. As soon as we walked out of Frankfurt airport, we were greeted with beaming smiles, gifts and a lot of love. Our host sisters were ecstatic to host us and had gone out of their way to ensure that we felt comfortable. We spent our first weekend familiarising ourselves with our surroundings and getting to know our hosts better.

In our first week there, we attended lectures at the Theo-Koch Schule. Initially, the lectures were a bit boring since they were all in German; a language we have never spoken but after a few classes, we became friends with other German students and started actively participating in class. It was very kind of the teachers to invite us for all the bilingual lectures where students spoke in English as well. We made an interesting observation during this entire exchange - all the German students spoke primarily in German but they were fluent in English as well! However, this practice has only been there for the last few years; the previous generations do not speak much in English.

The week passed by very quickly, with us comprehending the differences in the education systems, culture, etc. A week later, during our trip we visited THM, a university in Grüenberg. In the same week, we also visited various places like 'Level 8' for rock climbing, went swimming, visited the Indian Consulate, had an amazing barbecue party, visited refugee students and had a day dedicated to showcasing Indian culture. On the cultural day, we danced, sang, had a PowerPoint presentation, and also made the Germans dance. They said that they had never enjoyed that much on our Bollywood songs before! It definitely was an evening none of us will ever forget.

In the following week, we went to many places frequented by tourists including Giessen city, where a World War II bomb was spotted (and the town was excavated while we were there). We also went to the Mathematics Museum, a vintage car workshop, textile industry and the war cemetery.

One of the days, we cooked a huge variety of Indian food. Our German hosts were shocked by the amount of spices we have but they enjoyed our food. The same day, we switched families. We were then welcomed by our second host family.

We visited Dunkelkaufhaus, a place for the blind, where we were surrounded by complete darkness and had the experience of how it felt to be blind. We realised how blessed we are to have our eyesight. We also visited Leica (a camera lens company established even before World War II), the water factory and museum (the place where water was packed and sealed), the labour organisation in Germany where we were given a brief insight about the employment system in Germany and finally, we were taught how to bake German bread.

Our host families were simply amazing and made us experience many things. During our stay there, we fell in love with the country and did not wish to come back. It was a wonderful experience that we wish we could relive.

We finally had our farewell day where we learnt the meaning of "parting goodbyes are not easy". It was truly difficult! Germany is a place we will never forget. Not only did we make memories, but now, we also have two families in a country we call 'home'.

- Tulsi Patil, Dhruvi Zingade, Kanishka Lohar, Tanushree Gulati, Akshata Khetan, Harsha Halkara, Janvi Mehta, Devyani Chate, Rashi Karani and Kriti Edwankar (Students of the Student Exchange Programme between Rotary Club of Bombay Mid-Town Mumbai, Rotary Club of Nidda, Germany and H.R. College of Commerce & Economics was initiated in 2011.)


June, 2017

Dr. Priyamvada Sawant, Associate Professor from H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai undertook a Faculty Exchange Programme at the Theo-Koch-Schule, Grünberg, Germany in June 2017. The programme was initiated by the Rotary Club of Bombay Mid-Town which also promotes a Student Exchange Programme between Mumbai and Germany's Hesse region since 2011. The programme is now taken to the next level with the faculty visit for the first time.

The aim of this Indo-German Faculty Exchange Programme is to have exposure to the syllabi and teaching methodology of each other's education system apart from academic and cultural interaction. Dr. Sawant was hosted by the Theo-Koch-Schule and its faculty for two weeks from 2nd June to 18th June 2017 in Grünberg. With an MA in History and a PhD in International Relations, Dr. Sawant engaged around 30 lectures on various topics related to India's history and cultural heritage, Indian political and economic systems and Indo-German relations. The lectures were also attended by the faculty of Theo-Koch-Schule, an inclusive institution of learning.

In the course of interaction with the faculty and students, Dr. Sawant observed the classes of both English and German language learning, where German students studied English as a second language while German was being

taught to those students who came from parts of Syria and Afghanistan for greater interaction and integration. A great stress is laid on practical learning and class work.

The faculty of Theo-Koch-Schule had graciously organised sightseeing during Dr. Sawant's two week stay which included visits to various historical monuments, castles along Rhine, art exhibitions and theatre.

As a part of the Exchange Programme, Ms. Christine Harthun from Theo-Koch-Schule will visit H.R. College in January 2018.


August 8, 2017

The International Programmes Committee of H.R. College of Commerce and Economics was honoured to welcome Mr. Bernhard Steinruecke, Director General, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Matthias Meyer, Acting Consul General of Germany, and Mr. Manoj Jalan - President, Rotary Club of Bombay Midtown. The event was graced by the Faculty Directors of the International Programmes Committee, Dr. Chandani Bhattacharjee and Ms. Mansi Bharne, and Dr. Priyamvada Sawant, faculty representative who has visited Germany for a faculty exchange programme.

The event began with the International Programmes Committee presenting their international initiatives, including their events, scholarships, university delegations and MOUs. The Rotary Youth Exchange Programme, a year long programme which has been taking place since decades, was also a major area of discussion.

The students who have been involved with the German Student Exchange in the past narrated their enriching experiences. They enlightened the listeners on what Germany has to offer, from its cars to its lessons on punctuality, and all that was a part of the cultural immersion that the German Exchange students experienced.

Dr. Sawant spoke of her time as a visiting professor at the Theo Koch Schule. Apart from the free education in Germany, the education system was English friendly at the Theo Koch Schule where the exchange of cultural and ideological views took place.

The seminar ended on an extremely positive note with an interactive discussion between the visitors and the students.