SPC Social Justice Tour to India
author: Jude Jeandet
In late November last year, eleven students along with three staff members departed Tullamarine airport on an incredible journey. This marked the beginning of the College’s first ever trip to India. With a focus on Social Justice, the tour was offered to boys who were passionate about making positive change in the world around them.
Week one was spent in Chandigarh, a city of one million inhabitants (relatively small for India) that was built as a planned city much like Canberra. Upon arrival we met the students of St John’s High School, who would act as our guides for the week. Contrary to our worries that these interactions would feel forced and awkward, an incredible bond was formed with these boys, one that still lives on via a lively group chat on Instagram! Spending time in the classrooms of another Edmund Rice school located in another hemisphere was an enlightening experience. Although there was a notable lack of technology such as projectors or laptops, the content being taught was much alike our own curriculum, to as high if not even higher standards. For these students, results are everything and determine their entire future. After seeing all the sights the city has to offer - such as the famous ‘rock gardens’ made of recycled goods, and the incredibly designed state parliament buildings of both Haryana and Punjab which share Chandigarh as their capitals – we ventured into the foothills of the Himalayas to the village Chail. This day trip certainly provided us with the most scenically beautiful experience of the tour, with snow-capped Himalayan mountains visible in the distance.
Following a very emotional goodbye with our new friends, we jumped back on the bus and travelled to Delhi, the capital of India bustling with some 20 million inhabitants. Here, the focus shifted more towards the lack of equal opportunity for the people of India. We spent significant time working with PRATYEK, a group that focuses on advocacy for Indian children, by Indian children. This culminated in a visit to the homes of some of these children, located in the inner-city slums of Delhi. With rooms measuring three by three metres, lacking toilets or running water, this experience was particularly eye-opening. The incredible children, who are brought up in such conditions yet go on to make change happen in their communities, are truly inspiring, and our memories of them will stay with us for ever.
Overall, the tour provided us with an insight that can not be found anywhere else. Truly a once in a lifetime trip, everyone returned with a new perspective on not only India, but also our own lives.
By Jude Jeandet
2018 Year 12 Student
2019 Faith in Action Trainee