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International Placement 2020, New Delhi, India

International field placements are offered at George Brown College in both the School of Early Childhood Education and the School of Social and Community Services. The schools have long-standing partnerships with organizations in Jamaica, China and India, which provide a variety of placement opportunities for our respective students. The field placement in India takes place in partnership with Ritinjali, an organization that works with marginalized groups in various slum communities in New Delhi.

In the past, students from the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program have successfully completed placements at an outdoor play organization, a local childcare centre, a program for children with special needs and an orphanage, as well as in childcare centers serving the slum communities. Each program has offered new learning in partnership development, pedagogy and practice and a deeper understanding of how children and families are supported in the urban Indian context.

Students from the Child and Youth Care (CYC) program, Social Service Worker (SSW) program and Community Worker (CW) program work with youth and young adults in various slum communities. Students have the opportunity to work collaboratively with the organization's staff in implementing and facilitating life skills workshops. The workshops promote the development of their social, emotional and entrepreneur skills that are required when obtaining gainful employment in various professional programs.

The students also have an opportunity to learn about the rich culture and history while completing their placement in India. Students travel to the famous Taj Mahal in Agra; one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world heritage. Students have often travelled to rural schools to understand the different community needs as well.  With a population of over 1.2 billion, India offers Delhi through experiential a rich diversity in history, culture, religion and language.  It is also a country which offers learning opportunities with other experts in early childhood education and family support preparing George Brown students for the global community. 

This placement offers you a chance to experience international travel with peers and faculty support from George Brown College.   

This year the placement takes place in February 2020, and the ECE team has been joined by students from the School of Social and Community Services; Child and Youth Care program as well as from the Social Service Worker program.  The voices of the students participating in the Project India, New Delhi 2020, will shed more light on the nature of this year's project. We hope that you will enjoy reading about the experiences of the participating students. 

Letters from the students:

Stef Kennedy
Social Service Worker Program

The bags have been unpacked, the souvenirs given out, the laundry is full, and I have brought back enough shawls to last me a lifetime.

It's a surreal feeling being back. It's as if I'm in a dream, still snug in my New Delhi bed, just waiting to wake up and start the day with our Mahipalpur or Kusumpur group. We would discuss the topic of the day (our last week consisting of Mental Health and Consent workshops), facilitate the coinciding activities, and debrief it all together. Then we might set out to end our day at a market that's been recommended by our co-worker and translator Roshni or others. Alas, we've already said our goodbyes, as painful as they were, and we've boarded our plane.

To end our time in Delhi, we facilitated a presentation consisting of a breakdown of our time and work with Ritinjali, encompassing every group and the topics we workshopped, we wore beautiful sarees at the behest of our translator Roshni and co-worker Rakhi, and we took enough photos to fill endless photo albums.

This past month in New Delhi has felt like a lifetime and the blink of an eye. As we crammed our suitcases and surveyed the apartment for anything we might have left behind, my peers and I gathered in the common area to talk about the weeks past and how unbelievable it has all been. While we miss our loved ones and familiarity of our homes, we also recognize the home we have built here in India. We have built routines and relationships with those we have worked with. The staff at Ritinjali has supported us in ways we never even knew we needed, with Rena, Rakhi, Amal, and Roshni becoming a part of our team. Group chats have been created, because we know these relationships cannot be left behind; whether it's to share photos of snow or smiles, or check-in on the members of our groups.

As we said our farewells I kept saying goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, but I know this isn't goodbye. This has been the start of a beautiful relationship with a country and people I have fallen in love with. I know I'll be back, hopefully is a similar capacity to the work we have already done, I know I will see familiar faces again, and I know I can entrust Ritinjali to keep providing helping hands to the communities they serve.

Thank you Ritinjali and thank you to Mahipalur, Dalil Ekta, and Kusumpur; communities who taught us valuable lessons about resiliency, creativity, kindness, and resourcefulness.

This is goodbye for now, but not forever.

Ismat Jahan Asif
ECE program

I was super excited before our departure to India. A lot of planning, excitements were going on inside my mind but never thought about what would happen before departing. Never gave heed on that area. The first week was really a roller coaster ride for us with everything. New environment, new food, new people, new atmosphere, the complete society, educational system were different than home. But few things never be different and that is the thinking and love of all children. These are universal.

I am really thankful to Ritinjali and also George Brown college for creating opportunity to have an amazing lifetime experience. Last 4 weeks we have done lots of activities and played outdoor games, build an emotional bonding with each other by sharing our feelings and emotions. I feel really honoured when I found my students wants to talk to me after my return to Canada. The last day when I have told my students we are going to make a paper plate kite they were so excited and eagerly waiting to get the materials. I talked with them how  to kite fly in the air, and one of my students explained that a  kite needs wind to fly. Like all children, the  children I worked with never stop gathering knowledge from their surroundings. I must share this picture where we can see how happy they were while playing with their own creations. This is a million-dollar happiness for me as an educator.

Apart from work, we also got the opportunity to get a glimpse  at Taj Mahal, the wonder of the world, visited Amber Palace which was built by King Man Singh in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and  declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

At the Amber palace I met an artist who was using stone colors to create painting. As an artist it was a great exploration for me. I have never explored any painting like this. The last few days were busy with presentations, wrap up classes, and last-minute shopping in Delhi. Any type of experiences is always a welcome addition into my  life, and  it doesn't matter in which form it comes. Explore new places, learn new things!

Eunji Kim
ECE program

Greetings from Delhi,        

I really cannot believe it is already the 4th week in India and it is our last week here. It feels like we just got here but the time went by so quickly. Each of us overcame our physical challenges such as jet lag, "Delhi belly," and adjusting to the heat. As well, we approached critical thinking to modify our activities to best support the community in New Delhi. We have accomplished so many things from the moment we have landed. For our last weekend in India, we viisted Red Fort which was a private palace of the Mughal emperor. I was amazed by the richness of red colour, massive red sandstone walls, and the endless beautiful architecture everwhere. It was really astonishing to observe all the detailed structures of the architecture. We really enjoyed the long path ways inside the fort and exploring wonders of different types of palace. I think I will really miss the beautiful architecture around India when I go back to Toronto.

Despite the snow storm back in Toronto, in New Delhi, we introduced the topic of arriving spring for our last placement week. My main purpose for this week was to continue supporting children with their physical and cognition skills. From the previous week, I observed that children were playing and exploring these two main domains. An example of my activity was called Create Our Garden. Children used materials and tools such as chart paper, markers or crayons, flowers, butterfly, and leaves shape handouts, scissors, and glue. All children were focused with colouring, decorating, and cutting to create one big garden. This activity supported with both 5.3 fine motor skills, tool use and 4.12 counting. Not only did children developed the skills and learned how to use scissors to cut papers but they also counted numbers throughout their play. Children communicated with their friends regarding how many flowers and leaves they have in their garden. Even though the topic of spring brought smiles to our faces, each of us were emotionally preparing to say our farewell to all the teachers, community members, and the children.

I truly enjoyed these wonderful experiences in India and I don't think I will ever forget them. It was really difficult to say goodbye to the children and to the teachers who I have worked with for the past month. I am so excited to go back home to share all of my detailed stories with my friends and families.

Madison Tanner
ECE program

We had quite a busy first week in India getting the hang of the hustle and bustle of New Delhi, overcoming jet lag and getting comfortable in our placements, so when our first weekend finally rolled around, we were ready! I'm here to tell you that our first weekend did not disappoint. We left the city and headed to Agra, the old capital of India and home of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. Picture it in your mind, pull a photo up on google… I've seen plenty of photos of it, but walking through the first arch of the entryway and seeing it in person for the very first time was breathtaking. Any image I've seen previously does not do it justice. We enjoyed our time wandering around the grounds, learning the tragic love story of the history of the Taj and watching monkeys steal things from other tourists! We then headed over to Agra Fort which was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty. It was rich in history, and we learned more about Emperor Shah Jahan and the reasons as to why he built the mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died during childbirth of their fourteenth child. The Taj Mahal is the ultimate symbol of love to forever represent Mumtaz Mahal and Emperor Shah Jahan's story. The weekend was jammed packed, but was the perfect break in order to get us ready for week two of placement!

Entering week two of placement was easier than week one, as we started to understand our roles and expectations and positive relationships with the children began forming. Week two brought a new topic – Feelings, Friendship… and an added bonus of teaching about Valentine's Days! I focused on promoting and planning activities that relied on teamwork and friendship. An example of one of my activities was 'Teamwork Tic Tac Toe'. I created a largescale play board, and felt pieces X's and hearts (Valentine's week, of course!) I broke the children into two teams, and together they had to discuss and decide where to place their pieces when it was their turn. They quickly learned that the more they worked as a team to figure out strategy the more often their team would win. This activity supported both 1.3 co-operation and turn taking as well as 4.11 games with rules. The entire week had an extremely positive vibe with all the children expressing their feelings and learning about the importance of friendship, so there was no better way than to conclude the week with a big Valentine's day party! We danced, we enjoyed valentine's day treats and the children presented me with lovely Valentine's day cards that were so beautiful I could not stop smiling! It was a wonderful week, and I cannot wait to see what next will bring!

Stephanie Woodall
Service Worker Program

Greetings from Delhi,

We are already two weeks into our placement and time has been flying by. We've been working with women and youth in the slum communities of New Delhi. It has been tremendously rewarding getting to know these resilient women and children, and learning from each other.

We have been working together in a tight-knit team of four students from both SSW and CYC, along with our wonderful translator Roshni, who is a graduate of the ECE program with Ritinjali. We have developed a camaraderie and support each other while facilitating workshops with our participants. So far, we have discussed a variety of topics ranging from teamwork, self-esteem, and emotional regulation. We used Valentine's Day as an opportunity to talk about the importance of loving oneself, and made "Valentines to Ourselves" with the women in the community of Kusumpur.

This weekend, we took a trip to Jaipur (the Pink City) where we experienced the culture of the beautiful state of Rajasthan. The weekend before, we visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, which were absolutely breathtaking.

So far it has been an unforgettable experience and I can't wait to see what the next two weeks have in store for us!

Christina Arriaza-Magana
Child and Youth Care Student

India 2020! WOW! After a fourteen-hour flight, we made it! Our first week in New Delhi has been incredible. The first most obvious difference I noticed upon our arrival was the midnight traffic and lack of car lanes for driving. People in India have a way of making things work when one would otherwise give up and not be as creative in figuring out a solution (around traffic as an example).

Our first week can be summarized by jet lag, sight-seeing, shopping, eating a variety of Indian food (including my personal favourite-Momos), getting to know the four different groups we are working with at Ritinjali and visiting one of the seven wonders of the world. The Taj Mahal was spectacular and breathtaking and something I hope most people can see at least once in their lifetime.

The first three days were the most difficult for me in terms of jetlag. From maximizing on our time to sight see to prepping for our first week of working at the different centres of Ritinjali, we were all tired but so excited to be in India and start to work.

Our first week working at Ritinjali has been life changing. We are working with three different skilling groups and one after school program in three different communities. We started the week by getting to know each other and then moved into activities that would help build teamwork and communication skills. Getting to know the individuals in all the groups has been such a pleasure. Although, the language barrier has been challenging. I have learned to alter and tweak my language to meet the needs of the population so that they are getting the most out of each and every activity.

I am looking forward to the next three weeks of this international field placement in India. It is one of the most unique and rewarding experiences I have ever had the opportunity of partaking in. This placement is something I highly recommend to future students who love to immerse themselves into different cultures and work with different populations. 

Maragaret Anthony
ECE program

When the plane landed in Dehli late in the evening, I could smell the rich aromas of the city. As a group we bustled through the security and made our way to greet the staff that would be driving us to our new home for the next month. Watching the traffic rush by with no sense of order was thrilling and terrifying. When we had reached our final destination, we unloaded our baggage and proceeded to our apartment. I picked up all my baggage and was the first to enter the elevator. That was a huge mistake,  myself and the professor were trapped inside. We were laughing hysterically at our predicament and quickly rescued by the staff. We completed orientation with Ritinjala to better understand the organization, meet the staff working with the children directly and establish the implementation of our curriculum. My first day working with the children in the slums of Nathupur was an awakening experience. You could clearly see that there is no electricity, running water, infrastructure, or health and safety standards. There are pigs, goats and cows running around the school. I felt extremely privileged to be welcomed into this community to work with these children. These children are survivors. They are so bright, confident and smart. It is inspiring given the environmental conditions they must endure.

The first week curriculum was to explore the Solar System through play based curriculum. I planned my curriculum integrating English and Hindi using the words of planets in our solar system. I created visual cue cards, 2D and 3D models for the children to gain a better sense of how the planets revolve around the sun, and how to read the letters of each planet. I sustained this play by using the same materials to play a matching card game using the written cue cards for play. The children were beaming with smiles as they flipped the cards over, to see if it was a match. The communication barrier was evident between us, but we used non-verbal skills and this approach allowed us to better understand each other. The galaxy marble art activity was another successful activity  with all  the children. They would shake the box vigorously as the marbles would go flying across the room, and when they were satisfied with their creation they would stop to admire their masterpiece.

It was an exciting first week and am looking forward to the second one!