Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
In his book, India Calling, author Anand Giridharadas wrote that, “India has become — in a way that it has not been — a land of opportunity for millions and millions and millions of people.” Anand’s words have certainly rung true for us in our few short months here; India has allowed our legion of intrepid students to partake in some fantastic opportunities of their own. Stunning locations have been explored, interesting individuals have been encountered and exotic delicacies have been devoured — all thanks to our focus on experiential learning through weXplore.
In October, we embarked on an eight-day journey across the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. After two months of intense classwork, the trip provided our students with a welcome respite from their studies and a chance to visit some of India’s most culturally significant sites; these included the Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, and the city of Bhopal — the site of a Dow chemical disaster which resulted in an immediate death toll of 2,259, but is responsible for the suffering of hundreds of thousands more. An excellent recap of that journey can be heard in our student roundtable featuring Hudson, Emma, Gillian, and Cameron L.
More recently, we pointed our compasses due south for a five-day learning expedition in the sprawling, coastal state of Kerala. The focus of this trip was more academic in nature than our north India trip and included separate itineraries for our upper (11/12) and lower (9/10) level classes. For our 9th and 10th grade classes, the focus of the trip was a multidisciplinary tea project; students had three days after the conclusion of the trip to create a business plan, a marketing scheme (with a branded logo), an advertisement, and a sales pitch. Each team was also asked to incorporate finance into their project and provide copies of their balance sheets, income statements and sales forecasts. Once they were ready to present, each team was given the opportunity to make their pitch in front of an assembly of experts and potential investors.
For the research and development portion of the project, our 9th and 10th grade students traveled within Kerala to the town of Munnar. While Indian teas enjoy global popularity, it is only produced in 3 of India’s 29 states — Kerala being one. Because of this, the tea fields spread throughout the “Kanan Devan Hills” of Munnar have become a popular attraction for visitors from around the world.
Once settled, our students set out for a jeep safari to a local Munnar tea plantation. Here, they were able to take a hands-on approach and pick leaves themselves while receiving a lesson on the history on Kerala’s tea production from plantation guides. Munnar’s high altitude (its tea fields sit 6,000 ft above sea level) also provided an excellent example of product differentiation, as the tea produced here is defined by Munnar’s pristine air quality.
Beyond tea fields, Munnar is also home to idyllic waterfalls and mountains which the students captured on video to incorporate into their presentations back home. A lesson was given by newMedia Lab teacher Lindsay Clark on filming techniques before shooting began.
Our time in Kerala also provided the students with time to relax, reflect and make the most of their surroundings. Before heading back to Hyderabad, the 9th and 10th graders visited the coastal city of Cochin; here, among the fishermen, houseboats and beaches, the 11th and 12th grade students had been exploring the cultural, ecological and sociological differences in the south Indian subcontinent.
So where will weXplore take our students next? This weekend we leave the decision up to them as we introduce our first ever “choose your own weXplore adventure!” Each student has selected one of five different trips, and we look forward to sharing their experiences with you in the near future.