India 2014, Day 8: Closing Ceremony, Goodbyes, Home Visits, and Last-Minute Shopping

So concludes our Global Investigators voyage… or, at least, the part spent in India. After a quiet breakfast (we knew that after today we would have no more Colonel’s Retreat banana bread), we headed to the IIC for the Closing Ceremony.

presentationsSaris everywhere. Vibrant blues, mellow yellows, soft pinks. The Roshni girls looked absolutely fabulous. Before commencing the Ceremony, we congregated outside with our friends and their parents for tea and snacks. Pictures were “clicked” at rapid-fire pace. We then filed into the IIC’s auditorium to begin with our first few presentations.

The Closing Ceremony was the beginning of an end. It opened with the first two MC’s, Paige and Huda, who introduced the purpose and activities of the Roshni-Castilleja Program to the parents. Each Group (A through F) performed a role play centered around the skill it was given: persuasiveness, spoken English, time management, and other skills important to build both inside and outside the classroom, as well as to discuss in an interview. All of the role plays showed the “do’s” and “don’ts” of interview. Do have a firm hand shake, but don’t slump in your chair. Do stress the importance of your skills, but don’t be overly-arrogant. Each role play had the audience nodding in agreement or crying at the absurdity of the “bad” interviewees.

Various speeches were also given by students, chaperones, teachers, and teachers’ assistants. Casti students Anna Yu and Julia McKay, as well as Roshni students Carthica and Simran, gave moving examples of how the Roshni-Castilleja Program has enhanced their learning ability and allowed them to make friendships that would last a lifetime. Our chaperone Ms. Lee, Roshni TA Summa, and Mrs. Hasan (mother of Saima Hasan, founder of Roshni) all gave speeches with different messages, but they all focused on the tremendously positive impact that the Roshni-Castilleja Program has had on both Roshni and Castilleja students.
Ms.Hasan  paige  Kathleen

Our next two MC’s, Kathleen and Simran, also helped preface the students’ performances. We saw wonderful dances and songs performed during the Ceremony: Roshni and Casti girls alike danced to Hannah Montana’s “Hoedown Throwdown,” as well as to the song “All is Well” from the movie 3 Idiots. The Roshni girls performed beautifully when they sang a song about friendship in Hindi, and the Casti girls were just as wonderful performing Bruno Mars’s “Count on Me.”

We also had a few surprise performances by TA’s and students. During her speech, Summa performed a goodbye song. Two Roshni TA’s also performed a classical Indian dance. We Casti girls performed three popular, well-known, and intricate Indian dances for our friends (far from perfect, but it’s the thought that counts).

final danceOur performance was followed by a dance party in which all the students let loose to Indian songs.

Then it was time for goodbyes. The girls exchanged gifts and took a few (not really, more like multiple) last photos. Many tears were shed, and many hugs were given. The entire goodbye process lasted for a solid thirty minutes. One student commented that it was “more painful to drag out the goodbye.” After a few more emotional moments, we left the auditorium and our friends behind, with a bittersweet taste in our mouths.
goodbyes moregoodbyes

We ate lunch outside of the IIC and reflected on our experiences from the whole week. We then separated into four groups for the Home Visits. Visiting the Roshni girls’ homes was truly an eye-opening experience. Their families were beyond hospitable and welcomed us with open arms. We stayed in their homes (very modest, with one or two rooms total shared by grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) for about an hour, during which we asked them about their daily lives and answered their questions about ours. An experience like this can’t be captured in the movies or in documentaries. It’s like a punch to the gut, being able to open our eyes to problems that others face every day. It was inspirational to think that, despite their circumstances, the Roshni girls’ families could still support their daughters’ dreams and ambitions for higher education.
homevisitfamily homevisit2

shoppingWe headed back to the Guest House physically and emotionally exhausted. We rested for an hour before heading out again for our very last shopping trip in India. This market did not involve any bargaining (which could be either good or bad, depending on your shopping preferences and/or bargaining skills), but we did enjoy looking at more saris, kurtas, and jewelry and finding gifts for friends and family with the help of Avipsha and the Hasan family and friends as our escorts. We are so grateful for our hosts in India – the Hasan’s and the Roshni team took such wonderful care of all of us!

3idiotsNow we are back at the Guest House, finishing up the movie 3 Idiots as well as doing some last-minute packing (clearly we have our priorities). We leave for the airport soon, and although we have a flight at two in the morning, we are still wide awake and filled to the brim with new experiences and friendships that we hope to never forget.

Here’s to the end of the 2014 Global Investigator Trip to India. And here’s to next year’s as well.

Chloe and Fernanda

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