The main part of my internship consisted of assisting in a three week long Contextual Learning experience. Contextual Learning (CL) being experiential learning that takes place outside of the class room. I would be traveling with three teachers, a trekking guide, and twenty-one eighth graders from the Canadian International School. We would travel across Uttarakand in north east India. It would be a profound experience.
I started preparing almost as soon as I arrived at the Canadian International School (CIS). The CL group met every other Thursday to discuss and organize for the trip. At this time, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was one of three who were already at CIS working. Mrs. Lara Lindeman, the middle school math teacher with an infinitely expanding heart took point in guiding the prep meetings. Mr. Vishwas Kumar, an international baccalaureate Hindi teacher, also accompanied us and I started to get to know one of the funniest people I have ever met. At that time, I did not know any of the twenty-one students, but I could tell that they were going to be a great group. I’m not sure if the feeling was mutual initially. I was tasked with physical conditioning for the upcoming trekking expected on CL and may have tortured some of them in a few of our work out sessions. As the departure approached we made final tweaks to the travel game plan and I looked forward to the upcoming adventure!
At the airport, I met Colette Bertschy, a twenty-one-year-old Brown University student who would be spear heading the Contextual learning experience. Over the next three weeks I would come to respect and admire Collete for her quiet yet extremely composed leadership. I also met Nutty Natraj (who is lucky that we didn’t realize his first name is Nutty), co-owner of Adventure India Tours. Natraj has been leading treks in the Himalayas longer than I have been alive. He is a man with his heart in the right place, a man in touch with the environment, and would continually come through in keeping us all alive on the trip. As we met one another and parents alike, students gave their final hugs as the parents nervously eyed the teachers, looking for signs of trust before they sent their beloved child off into the wilderness. Five hours later we were landing in Dehradun at the base of the Himalayan mountain range.