Thursday, May 05, 2011

‘Cool’ Sikkim touches foreigners - Singapore team to build library in rural school

Gangtok, May 4: Thirty-two students from a school in Singapore are currently visiting Gangtok, interacting with the students of a government school here for whom they will help set up a library.

The students from Fairfield Methodist School (secondary), Singapore, have also brought two-three storybooks each for the library that will be built at Panthang Government Junior High School, 12km from here.

Three teachers are escorting the foreign students who are here for a week-long international exposure trip. The annual trip is a part of the curriculum for the secondary students.

“The trip has been excellent with nice cool weather and the natural beauty of Sikkim which we can’t find in Singapore. Most of us have developed friendship with the students here and all of us are enjoying our stay here,” said Julian Tan, a 15-year-old student.

Today the students of both the schools played a football match on the Pangthang School playground.

The foreign students had arrived here on Sunday and had gone for a daylong trek in a nearby forest with their Sikkimese friends.

The batch is busy learning the Nepali language, playing and sharing their experiences with the 107 students of the government school that teaches students up to Class VIII.

“I can’t say that I know each one of them but at least I can say that I can speak to them openly without feeling awkward. Back there in Singapore there is too much stress among the students but here the students are relaxed and humble. I believe Singapore people have to learn to be humble from them,” said Tan.

The funds, given by the Singapore government and the parents of the school students, are being used to make bookshelves for the library in Panthang school.

“Our students are interacting well with the children. They have painted the walls of the school building and are helping the carpenters to build the bookshelves. It has been a pleasant experience so far and I am delighted to see our students interacting well with the students here,” said Jean Ho, one of the teachers who is escorting the foreign students.

The teacher added that such trips help to understand the cultures of different places. “We want our students to experience different cultures and share the Singapore culture with students from other nations. They also do services in whichever schools they go. Such trips promote understanding of different cultures and develop friendship with students from other nations,” Ho said.

A batch of students from the same school had also visited Panthang School last year. The group had helped to set up a dining hall in the building.

“Last year the students were a bit shy but this time they are more open and interacting well with our students,” said Ho.
The headmistress of Panthang School, Denkala Thendup, said: “They want their students to have an experience of a village-level school and they have also come here to make friends. As the students from Singapore school had also visited this school last year our students have become more interactive and they are easily mingling with them. Such bonding has also developed confidence among our students and their shyness has gone,” she said

Tshering Dorjee Lachungpa, the owner of Khangri Tours and Travels that has co-ordinated the trip along with Singapore-based Divine International Explore and Treks Agency, said students from Singapore had visited Sikkim earlier as well.
He said they mostly went Yuksom in West Sikkim. But for the past three years the students are coming to schools in and around Gangtok.

“We have been choosing Panthang School for the past two years considering the short period of the trips which are usually for 10 days including travelling. Panthang School is close to Gangtok but is located in a rural area with beautiful forests and quiet surroundings. Medical facilities and decent hotel accommodations are easily available in nearby Gangtok,” he said
The students will leave Gangtok on Saturday.

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