by Tushil Chavda (India 2019-20, hosted in Heathville, VA with States 4H)
International Education Week --when every exchange student's morning started with an orange sunrise of enthusiasm and excitement. On that day, I woke up two hours earlier than my usual alarm. I dressed as usual but loaded my bag with a traditional costume of India.
My fifteenth cultural presentation in the US, but first for International Education Week 2019, took place in my JROTC class. The thirty students were eagerly waiting to find out why I used “Incredible India” as my presentation title. I completed my presentation by informing them about fascinating festivals, luscious cuisines, diverse religions, and the complex history of India. They had only one word to say, “Incredible.” After thirty minutes and ten questions, I completed my first presentation.
Later, I did seven more presentations with several hundred students. For each one, I tried to add some different content and interesting activities like showing students how to write their names in Hindi, sharing Indian food, showing different traditional dance videos, and displaying cultural items like the flag of India, idol of Lord Shiva, rakhi (a traditional thread for Rakshabandhan festival) and much more.
My first three days of the amazing IEW went on with the same routine but with different faces and various questions from students such as, “At what age do your parents start looking for your life partner?” (related to an arranged marriage) and “Why don’t you eat beef?” (related to Hindu religion).
On the fourth day of IEW, I had an idea of doing a presentation with all the teachers at my school. I asked my principal and was so excited when I received his permission. I stepped into the school library where more than fifty teachers were waiting. This time, I introduced “Incredible India” by offering “chai” (typical tea from India) to the audience.
On the final day of IEW, I decided I wanted to do something different and make that day a notable memory of my exchange year. I came up with an idea for teaching Yoga to my fellow schoolmates. I taught ten types of Yoga (Suryanamaskar, Pranayama, five different types of Hatha, Vajarasan, and Omkar) to more than fifty students, and guess what happened – I was selected to teach yoga to the JROTC class every Friday for the rest of the school year!
The unrivaled week of my exchange year ended with me making more than three hundred friends and so many great memories. I feel very proud to represent my country and would like to live every single day of the rest of my year like a day of International Education Week.