Inspiring Lives The Heritage Way
The Heritage School, Kolkata, India: The students at The Heritage School take part in various kinds of projects, at the local, national and international levels which gives them a platform to work for the community and help people. These projects are done round the year and are a part of the school curriculum. This report contains a bird’s eye view of projects undertaken this academic year.
A group of students started off on a project recently, which is funded by the BOSCH Company from Germany. We talked to the international project coordinator of our school, Ira Bhattacharya and she told us all about it. She said, “International projects give students the platform to work with the wider community and understand global problems at the grassroots level. It gives them an opportunity to bring about change and feel happy at the thought that they can make a difference to the lives of others. It is an immensely satisfying feeling.” The theme of the Project being undertaken with German collaboration is ‘Renewable Energy’ and under this project the students learnt how to assemble solar lanterns which they then decided to give to the village. The villagers previously used kerosene lamps for both cooking and for lighting their homes. Kerosene is not only unaffordable but also harmful for the environment. Using solar powered lamps has made the villagers aware of the benefits of using renewable energy and it has also helped them economically. In the next phase of the project the students will assemble solar cookers and give them to a few poor families of Chowbaga. The school decided that families in the village which have children who are studying in its evening school for the underprivileged called ‘Surya Kiran’ will be given solar lamps while others will be given solar cookers. We talked to some of the German students who were here as part of the BOSCH exchange programme and had visited Chowbaga. When asked whether such projects are important one of them said, “Yes of course, because you don’t only learn or hear or see something about the country, you feel the country, which invokes a great feeling to help them.”
As part of the British Council GSP project the students are striving to bring home the message of water conservation to the residents of Chowbaga. The students learnt how rainwater harvesting could be used to save and recycle fresh water and then they went to the village and explained in a simplified manner to the villagers, how this could be done. The next step involves building a reservoir which will help the people living there to conserve fresh water and use it judiciously.
The Heritage takes part every year in a programme called the ‘Better Kolkata Contest’ which enables the students to reach out to the community and do something for its betterment. Presently the school is working in another neighbouring village called Hussainpur where we have tried to reduce the use of plastic and make the people aware of the distinction between bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable waste. Some of our students have taught the village women how to make paper bags and sell them to the neighboring shops. This helps the women to earn some money and also reduce the use of plastic in the village.
Yet another interesting project, ‘The Kolkata Learning Project’, initiated by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. The teacher-in-charge of this project, Ms. Munmun Dey calls it ‘ a two-way learning programme’. Under this programme the children of a school situated in our vicinity in a place called Daspara, Mukundopur, come to The Heritage School once every week and take part in games and co-curricular activities, thus making use of facilities not available in their own village school. This gives the village children a new experience. From January, the school is planning to introduce the children to computers as well. The students from our school go to Daspara every week and work with the children there teaching them the basics of English and Mathematics. This exercise enables our students to share knowledge and reach out to children who are not as privileged as they are.
These are some of the current projects, undertaken by the school, which give the students a different perspective of life and education which goes well beyond the four walls of the classroom. India being a country with a vast number of uneducated and poor people, these types of programmes open a window to empower poor people with knowledge and a good and healthy life.
“It gives me pleasure to see young children in their teens so keen to help for the cause of the underprivileged. Be it through the Interact Club or a project undertaken by the school, our students work hard, give their time and whole hearted effort to make it a success. I am proud of my children!” Says the Principal, Mrs. Seema Sapru
Kolkata Literary Meet
January 31st, The Kolkata Literary Meet: A National event with an international touch. The Kolkata book fair has been an annual event in our city for near about three decades, and this year, it turned into a landmark due to the introduction of the Kolkata Literary Meet, KLM in English and pronounced ‘Kalam’ in Bengali, which means a Pen. The Book Fair brings us books from all over the world. Besides being of interest to foreign publishers, it is specially a boost for the local publishing industry. A wide variety of books both in English and vernacular languages is sold at discounted prices which attracts crowds of people and gets them into buying and reading books.
Kolkata Literary Meet held from 26th to 31st January, 2012 brought together writers, poets, film- makers, critics, fans and others from within India and all around the world. We had writers from Belgium, France, England and Italy. The KLM pavilion became a hub for book lovers and students to enjoy interactive sessions with their favourite authors. Writers representing different kinds of writing and hailing from different continents exchanged ideas with one another and gave the audience a real taste of books being written and published across the globe.
The British Council had invited the well- known Indian author who wrote ‘A Suitable Boy’, Vikram Seth to set in motion the bi-centenary celebrations of Charles Dickens’s birth anniversary in Kolkata- an event which is being celebrated in all other parts of the world as well. Writer Vikram Seth had a brief interactive session with the audience which comprised mainly of excited young students like us eagerly waiting to see him and hear him. He answered a few questions on Charles Dickens’ writings and about his current projects. There was also a reading from a novel written by Dickens, ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist’, which everybody thoroughly enjoyed.
Jaipur is another city in North-West India which has been hosting the Literary Meet for quite some years now. This year, however, it became more of a debate on Salman Rushdie and the writer’s freedom to express his thoughts. The youth of the nation felt that Literature should be free from politics.
The Kolkata Literary Meet influenced a number of young people like us, brought us closer to literature, and gave us the inspiration to write. Old writings were hunted down by passionate collectors and the shelves were emptied of new novels. This year’s first ever Literary Meet in the city of Kolkata was a grand success and hopefully will continue to be for years to come.