Columbian Exchange:The Assam Valley School

The 2010 Cultural exchange between Award participants in Assam Valley School (AVS) and Colombian Gap students from The Columbia School in Bogota took place at AVS. The gap students from Colombia were Round Square members but Award participants from AVS initiated and conducted this cultural programme. Sneha, a student and Award Participant from AVS share the memorable experience:

2010 Founders’ Semester can never be forgotten for many of us who were part of the Award in the Assam Valley School. I never believed how much doing the Award could change things in my life. From building confidence to warding off my shyness to dance in public, doing things in a team, competing with my own capabilities, and most importantly doing something meaningful, I did it all thanks to the Award. 

The two young girls from Columbia came to AVS as exchange students from the Colombia School, Bogota. Paula and Maria were very humble and genuine, representing their country.

The programme was not in the list, but we began in a sober way through everyday conversations with Paula and Maria wanting to know all about Columbian kids, of what they do? How they talk? What do they eat? Their sense of dressing up and of course their dances, though I was surprised to find out how culturally rich Columbia was.

Paula and Maria began exchanging notes on cultural backgrounds of our respective countries. They showed power-point presentations and danced to our delight. Impromptu, we decided to learn some steps. A bit surprised on how my limbs naturally followed the heart beating Columbian music. I just couldn’t resist tapping to the tune. Paula and Maria for many days engaged us in many of their programmes like learning Spanish and doing exhibitions. But learning Columbian dance was so much fun. It was indeed a wonderful and memorable experience of my life. We were introduced to many forms of traditional Columbian dance- ‘Cumbia’, 
‘Bullerenge’, ‘El Mapale’ and ‘Pa Mayati’. 

A the end of our learning experience, we not only staged four varieties of Columbian dance but Paula and Maria did a spectacular performance of the traditional classical Assamese dance ‘Shattriya’ or pronounced as ‘Hotriya’ with elegance and grace. It emerged for a moment that we belonged to the same land. We thank all the people who have inspired us to live life with brave elegance and meaning.

When we parted our ways at the end, Paula and Maria were like heroes for us and we together resonated John Lennon's ‘Imagine there’s no heaven, imagine there’s no countries; it’s easy if you try, no hell below us and above us only sky, imagine all the people living life in peace!

Photo Courtsey: Ranjana Rai, YES Centre Manager at Assam Valley School. 

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