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The very long trip home was a good opportunity to reflect upon our experiences.
How can we capture the sights, sounds and vibrancy of India in words?
Our delegation was extraordinary – the members bonded quickly and part of the experience was learning from each other and sharing differing perspectives.
What we saw and witnessed and learned was even more extraordinary. We witnessed the joy of learning in small rural village school and in after school centers in impoverished urban neighborhoods. Imagine walking down a dark alley outside of Kumpam , meeting cows wandering about – and then at the end of the passage a group of students sitting in the dark on tablets learning excel. The only light visible was from the screens. We learned that  students came here from 7- 8:30 each evening to enrich their education and achieve some of the skills that will lift them out of rural poverty and provide an opportunity for advancement. Imagine also well resourced private schools in Ambur and Chennai where we were greeted by signs proclaiming the visit of the CoSN Delegation and by traditional music welcoming us . What impressed us in each case was the joy of learning reflected in the face of the students.
We also were privileged to meet with visionary leaders who are helping to shape and implement education programs in India. Learning Links , Agastya and Sristi , Pratham ,and EK Steps – the vision and dedication of these groups are  remarkable , exciting and certainly a step forward in improving education in India.
There is so much more to say – so many more tidbits and exciting moments that occurred – our stay at Agastya Foundation campus in rural India – an oasis of learning and quiet; the Moslem Girls School in Old Delhi and the sign that they created honoring Paris , our special Diwali celebration in Chennai organized by the Surana families; the hospit6atliy and gifts that we received in so many places; and most of all that spirit of doing more with so much less.  As another member of the delegation noted
Namste – now our challenge is to capture the experiences in a report for US educators and policymakers based on what we learned in India. In this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for the CoSN Delegation and our hosts in India for helping us see a path for learning in the midst of tremendous challenges.
.

Irene

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