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A world-class intercultural educational organization; a global movement to develop and activate global citizens AFS Intercultural Programs India is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.

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study abroad

host an AFSer Hosting an international student in your home is a great way to learn about a new culture and share your own culture and values. Experience your world through the eyes of a young person from another country.

Inside this Issue


From Director’s Desk Wisdom


AFS Perspectives Understanding is key to learning to live together

Discover new things about yourself and find your place in the world. Learn how to turn challenging situations into valuable opportunities to grow and become more mature.



Volunteer Events 12th Annual Volunteer Meet 2017


Hosting Stories The More We Give, The Happier We Feel; Diwali Celebrations; Fun Diwali; Diwali: The Greatest Experience; Main agle saal phirse Diwali manana chahti hoon!; Culture, Festivals & Religion; Puja, Prashad & Love; Festival of Lights; Beautiful Diwali; People, Food & Lights; Traditional Diwali; and Diwali: Time for Reuniting & Fun

​ AFS Intercultural Programs India Anand Bhawan, 12, Hailey Road, New Delhi - 110001 ​Phone Number -+ 91-11-42512498/41501672/41540827

A world-class intercultural education organization. AFS helps the world learn to live together.

Join a Global community of changemakers and people like you. Serve as a change agent in your community. Change the world by changing minds.


Intercultural Learning Interaction with our Partners





Volunteer Stories My Experience with Volunteering with AFS India & Wonderful Annual Volunteer Meet Experience


November AFS India Day Celebrations


Impact of YES Programs Expect the Unexpected & Positive Changes

Banner Image: Volunteer at 12th Annual Volunteer Meet 2017 in New Delhi

International Volunteers Day Celebrations

Edited & Designed by Aadil F.

For any Suggestions or sharing stories & experiences, reach us at:

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 1 |

When someone says: I have ten years’ experience, it can mean two things: One year experience repeated ten times or one year experience to which is added new experiences every year for the next nine years. Reflect on what is applicable to you!



Einstein had knowledge to which he added “experience” every day when he said he tried one thousand ways to invent the bulb!


WISDOM Divya Arora | National Director “Wisdom Is Not A Product Of Schooling But Of The Lifelong Attempt To Acquire It” - Albert Einstein Wisdom is the quality of being Wise! And what is wisdom then: a body of knowledge and experience. You get knowledge from going to school, college, reading books and so on and on. You get experience while going through life when you keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open and observe, reflect and ask question to get the answers which would become wisdom.



- Helping the world learn to live together -

Many of us live every day with an attitude to do what I should do: routine stuff. We follow 'Chalta Hai' attitude. When someone develops an attitude that every day I will “think, ask & do” on questions such as how to do better and better, you will end up starting collecting “experience”. You should think of better ways including even when you are sleeping! How? Before you go to sleep put a question in your mind: "How to improve?" Your sleeping mind will work on it as mind never sleeps. It may come with a small idea, but you should try; it may work. Ask from your boss, your colleagues about how to do differently as someone may give you some thought starter. Finally, start doing it! When you start doing it, you will come across better ideas. Remember the wisdom from Nike: Just Do It! Schooling is important. Experience is more important. When I was growing up and entered college my father

asked to start doing internships during my holidays. This made me work in different organisations and gain experience. I have worked in hospital, garment factory, slum area, school, NGO, blind school and many such places. This helped me a lot. I met lot of people from various backgrounds. I learnt how to work with diversity. This has helped me a lot both professionally and at personal level. In life, my parents motivated me to keep my mind “switch on” to learn and observe. This helped me to learn and not to blame anyone for the difficulties which came my way. My teachers helped me to understand the concepts and my parents made me understand how to put those concepts into reality and with this I have become successful, happy and content person. Excerpts from the book by Mr. Promod Batra

Our mind can store millions of thoughts and as you go along in life, you can pick the thoughts you may need in every day of your working life.


The city that never sleeps, New York is famous as one of the world’s best known melting pots of culture. Between May and October last year there was an art exhibition installed at New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is neither right in the city center nor a famous art gallery site. It took me awhile to get to this open public space, but this journey was also metaphorically perfectly suited for this exhibition.

world, and politics became a part of daily live for some of us, even if they were not directly related to where we live and the people we know. In all of this craziness and mess we were actually missing this word, understanding, and some time to digest all the news we receive with the right background information. We interact with people

The artist Martin Creed’s work was simple, direct, and open for interpretations. It reminded me of giant commercial neon signs, but there was a difference. The goal of the exhibition wasn’t to sell a product, but rather to inspire people to think and take action. The word “Understanding”, was the focus point of the exhibition. “Spelled out in ten–foot–tall letters mounted on a 50– foot–long steel I–beam, Understanding rotates 360 degrees, constantly shifting perspective on the work. The beam spins at varying speeds, the rhythm determined by a computerized program designed by the artist.” The space around the main installation allowed visitors to sit and hang out. I was very curious about this exhibition, so during the summer I grabbed a book and went to see it. When I arrived to my destination on a Sunday afternoon, a huge word, Understanding, was rotating under the very bright sun and there were two young people, probably from different cultures and backgrounds, sitting and talking to each other. It was a very good moment and scene for a photographer to capture it. I looked at these two young people for a short time, captured the moment in my memory, and then joined the scene as a new character with my book.

The good news is that there are tools out there to help us get a better understanding before making our judgements. Just like Martin Creed’s work was open for interpretations, all of our daily interactions are also open for them. What we need are the right tools and a little “thinking” time before making our judgement. Two of these tools, the D.I.V.E. Model and O.D.I.S exercise, are described in one of Intercultural Learning for AFSers and Friends documents called “Tools to Suspend Judgment”. Both of these practical tools are very helpful for effective and appropriate communication, and help you in make a good decision and not jump to conclusions in unclear or strange circumstances. Using tools like these two, making them a part of our lives, and sharing them with other people can increase the level of understanding between different individuals around the world.

from different settings, and even though sometimes we do not notice it, reaching an understanding is not very easy, especially in unclear circumstances. It takes some time and effort. Without understanding each other we can not learn from each other, we can not have effective communication, and most importantly we can not manage to live together. Learning to live together is one of the most important things that we need to achieve and without understanding each other we won’t be able to reach our goal.

AFS was founded with the understanding that there is a pressing need for cultures to overcome conflicts and to build a more just and peaceful world. Today, the need to achieve peaceful solutions to conflicts between cultures is still an urgent matter and AFS is part of the solution.

Take a role in #AFSeffect, develop, use and share your knowledge with others and help them to improve themselves too! Let’s try to understand each other and become a part of the solution rather than the conflict.

We all have heard terrible news from all around the This article was written by Sercan Selvi. Sercan is the Network Events and Education Fellow at AFS International, an International Qualified Trainer for the AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program, and a member of the European Pool of Trainers of the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL). This article is copied from AFS Perspectives: AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 2 |

participants as well as local partners to develop skills and knowledge in the field of intercultural interaction to operate more effectively in their communities. The program aimed at recognition of local diversity at early ages, preparation of students for longer mobility programs and increasing dialogue among the diverse youth in Turkey. With this project, the participants; •


- Interaction with our Partners -

Conversations with Derya Komitoglu Kaplan, National Director, AFS Turkey Interviewed by Divya Arora, National Director, AFS India

• • •

Derya says, "I have been working for Turk Kültur Vakfi - AFS Turkey more than 15 years, I am currently the National Director for AFS Turkey. I graduated from University of Portsmouth on June 1998 that my BA was based on Economics. I am married and have a 7 yrs old son."

Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL). TKV is EFIL’s one founder partner in Europe. We have close relation with EFIL and our vice Board Chair is in EFIL's Board. Our trainers are actively working as a trainer in European Pool of Trainers’ (EPOT). Our volunteers are going to participate in EFIL trainings regularly. AFS in Turkey has two separate bodies working in conjunction with each other.

How do you feel that AFS as an organization can contribute to fostering intercultural competence around the world especially during these times of uncertainty? TKV is the foundation that is the official partner AFS organisation in Turkey. It handles the international, bureaucratic and financial aspects of the program, with its Turk Kultur Vakfi (Turkish Cultural Foundation) – TKV, professional office staff run by the National Director, and runs AFS Intercultural Programs in Turkey since 1952. the board of the foundation. AFS Volunteers’ Association Besides, TKV is organizing many other exchange (VA), being an organization run by volunteers for programs as well as many other educational programs and activities in the country. You may visit all of them in volunteers, it provides all the volunteer work necessary for the AFS Programs to run smoothly in the country. This open structure enables us to have more than 500 members and quite an active democratic environment. By the helping of all these, TKV aims to reach 5,000 The rules and procedures of work are set by a protocol people in each year to create awareness of what the between the national partner organisation – TKV and VA. organization does for the country especially in these Should there be any issues arising from volunteers side, times of uncertainty as well in Turkey and in globe. We the volunteers can discuss it as a united organisation always get in touch people to act like global or active rather than individually. Similarly, should there be any citizens in our society. Of course, it is not easy to make problems arising from volunteers themselves, TKV raises it but we all believe in AFS mission, and we never stop the issue with the VA and let the volunteers solve the or cancel any of our programs and any of our activities problem amongst themselves. in Turkey. We give importance of the visibility and the advocacy in our business.

Education has always been the key to expanding the vision of people. How do you feel intercultural learning incorporated within the educational framework to help in broadening the overall learning process for individuals? We are implementing AFS Learning Link Program into our volunteers’ life cycle. Our volunteers then become the voice of mission in our society. Another perspective for the education in our body is; we give more emphasis on the teachers and working closely with the schools. Our staff is visiting the schools and the teachers very often in each year. We design a different module in the link program that twice a year, we organize the link program for only the adults that the teachers are always welcomed in it. Besides, we have been collaborated with many foundations, companies and associations within in the country and also in abroad to work with them in terms of providing our education competencies with them. What initiatives has AFS Turkey undertaken to shape the international education worldwide? TKV has many education initiatives in Europe. One of them is very well known in our network is European

a) Any suggestions as to how the intercultural learning can be given due importance/ awareness in lesser explored areas so as to reach out for more openness and awareness in obtaining intercultural learning. b) Schools are important partners in growth of AFS programs. How has AFS involved schools in country to make them strong partners? What are some kinds of activities that AFS has been doing to improve school relationships, and can be an example for others in the field of Global Education? c) Volunteers are the pillars when it comes to the functioning of AFS. What more initiatives be brought forth to garner motivation amongst the volunteers? Here's my answer to above three questions: Since 2015, TKV organizes a unique domestic exchange program for 14-16 years old high school students in Turkey. Here are the details about the program in below: ‘’Turkiye Kardesleri’’ Domestic Exchange Program in Turkey The main objective of this project is to develop a cross-cultural understanding between different cultures in Turkey while underlining the significance of multiculturalism in a democratic society, and nurture 4

have a chance to get acquainted with each other’s cultures, traditions, and shared values as well as differences between them, as the basis for mutual understanding and solidarity as they get equipped with competences (skills, knowledge and attitude) of intercultural interaction, constructively and pro-actively engage in intercultural dialogue, gain an increased awareness and acceptance of each other’s cultures live and learn with participants taking part from different backgrounds, cultures, with diverse mentalities get a non-formal learning opportunity with an international perspective to address topics related to multiculturalism, volunteerism and personal development.

The project is designed by Türk Kültür Vakfı and AFS Volunteers’ Association (VA) that it is funded through fundraising campaign, donations and sponsorships. The program takes place for 9 days is offered as a full scholarship for participating students and teachers. Türkiye Kardeşleri Domestic Exchange Program consists of three major parts: educational component, community service and artistic/cultural first-hand experience with the motto of “Live Together, Produce Together, Live Together” Türkiye Kardeşleri Domestic Exchange Program was implemented in June 2015 (21 participants) in 3 schools, June 2016 (60 participants and 15 teachers) in 6 schools and the 3rd edition was taking place in September 2017 (163 participants and 30 teachers) in 10 schools in 9 cities. How has the AFS experienced/helped you? My background is based on Economic and Finance. After graduation from my university, I worked as a specialist at a well-known equity company for 4 years in the finance department. Then, I decided to be in NGO and found myself in AFS. This has happened 15 years ago and I started to be a sending coordinator of this organization. And today, I have become the National Director and I strongly say that AFS has really changed my life a lot. All my prejudices went away and I opened new doors to myself to know and to understand more people in the world. For me, AFS is a non –finished or non-completed journey which means that each single day, I am learning a new thing from this experience. In other words, empathy becomes a significant key role in my AFS journey. As a last but not the least, I may add that I believe in mission and always honored to work for it in this network.

I strongly say that AFS has really changed my life a lot. All my prejudices went away and I opened new doors to myself to know and to understand more people in the world. For me, AFS is a non – finished or non-completed journey which means that each single day, I am learning a new thing from this experience.

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 3 |


12th Annual Volunteer Meet 2017

29th September to 2nd October, 2017 | New Delhi | Total Participants- 112 | Staff - 22

29th September 2017 12th Annual Volunteer Meet began on 29th September’17 with Mrs. Angela Roye (India Board Chair) & Mrs. Divya Arora (National Director) welcoming the guests. The AFS India staff welcomed the guests in different regional languages from across the country as well as 3 other countries to be able to make a closer connection with the volunteers, which was highly appreciated. The Annual Report 2017 was launched and the volunteers were also informed about the new development in AFS India Membership for Schools.

The Vadodara and Anand groups came prepared with the Gujarati traditional dance – Garba. They led everyone in the room for the dance. The room was full of radiating energy, filled with laughter, excitement and enjoyment. 30th September 2017 It is important that our volunteers are aware of the working of the National office, so the day therefore started with update from the Board Chair and National office so that the volunteers also know where we stand today and how far we have come. After the tea break, volunteers were divided into 2 groups for the breakout sessions – Cultural Diplomacy -- Exchanging of Ideas & Information for a Better Tomorrow and Importance of Global Citizenship.

(Photo Above: Mandeep & Alain) Both the sessions were very informative and engaging and were thoroughly enjoyed by our volunteers. Much thanks to all the speakers for giving our time and sharing their thoughts of different topics.

(Photo Above: Angela Roye & Divya Arora) The volunteers who came for the meet were new to each other therefore to make them all comfortable, icebreaker, Speed Dating & Find Someone Who, was organised which was enjoyed by all the participants and helped them know each other well. (Photo Below: Volunteers doing Garba)

(Photo Above: Francisco & Jyotsna) Importance of Global Citizenship session was facilitated by Francisco Marmolejo, Lead, Global Solutions Group on Tertiary Education & Lead Education Specialist for India of The World Bank Group and Jyotsna Bhatnagar, Private Sector Partnerships Officer, UN World Food Programme. Thanks to both of the speakers where they enlightened us about the changing interdependent & interconnected world and how education is the key enabler. Mr. Francisco very nicely pointed out that, “Global citizenship has to be built from home”. Cultural Diplomacy -- Exchanging of Ideas & Information for a Better Tomorrow session was taken by Alain Baetens, First secretary, Belgium Embassy in New Delhi and Mandeep Kaur, All India Principal Program Advisor, Public Affairs Section, American Embassy, American Center. Mr. Alain pointed out “It is nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice!” so did Mrs Mandeep quote “Power of many is greater than one”.

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 4 |

(Photo above: During Network Strategy Session) Later during the day, India Board Chair talked about the importance of the Network Strategy, how it plays a pivotal role in AFS and how volunteers need to be aware of the new development. After the presentation by India Board Chair, volunteers were divided into 4 groups for the Network Strategy session where each group consisted of 25-30 volunteers. The volunteers actively participated in their respective groups understanding and discussing 4 areas of action: Programs, Education, Volunteerism & Advocacy. They discussed the Network Strategy in respective group and worked out the plan of actions for AFS India in their group. Representatives from each group very nicely debriefed about the session they were in after they each attended different groups in the plenary session.

Reflection was done with one to one interaction with each volunteers. The volunteers reflected upon the whole day and expressed what they liked and the areas of improvement. To have Reflection at the end of the day was surely a hit idea! The day ended with Fun Quiz. It was conducted in the evening as one fun activity as the name suggests. Questions were from different segments like AFS, AFS family, Cinema, Sports, Fashion etc. Teams were formed combining chapters and nice name was given to each like Vada Pav, Chaat, and Mix Veg etc. (Names are of various Indian cuisine) 1st October 2017

(Photo Above: During Leadership Development Session)

The day started with breakfast meetings with chapters to know and discuss the challenges the chapter is facing if any, their good practices, how National Office can help them.

followed the color code well and looked lovely. Gala dinner night was fun with each chapter showcasing their talent. National office also performed. It was one beautiful night loaded with performances, pictures and never ending fun. 2nd October 2017 The day again started with breakfast chapter meetings. Then we had Grand Award ceremony where the aim was to appreciate our dear hardworking volunteers, chapters, alumni, school, host families and more for the session of (Photo Above: International Volunteers from Russia & Hungary) The Russian staff and Hungarian volunteers then gave presentations about their respective countries, also how they work in their AFS office. Both Russian staff & Hungarian volunteers conducted short quiz and gave mementos from their countries to the ones who gave the correct answers.

(Photo Above: During Peace Education Session) Agenda was discussed with the volunteers about the day. They were made aware of the respective breakout session – Peace Education: Building an Inclusive Society where trainers were Najmuzzaman Mohammad & Ajay Mehta; Swaraj where trainer was Gaurav Shorey and Leadership Development Workshop where trainers were Divya Arora & Aadil Fahim. Each of the group was very happy and had great learning out of their session. The learnings of each of the sessions were further reflected upon during the reflective session during the end of the day.

Everyone was thanked for making it to AVM 2017 and for being a sport throughout the event. They were given certificate of recognition in the end for attending the 12th Annual Volunteer Meet 2017. We hope to keep going strong with the help of our volunteers. (Photo Above: Award Ceremony) 2016-17. Awards were given in various categories such as Most Popular Chapter, Best Alumni, Best Volunteer, Best Sending School etc. Prior to the meet, voting was done for each of the award categories where chapters first sent their nominations and later voted for winners.

All volunteers were bid goodbye with the promise of meeting again soon and of course working more closely and reaching new heights! (Photo Below: Gala Dinner & Group Photo)

(Photo Above: During 5waraj Session) After full day of back to back learning session, to make the night lively and light we had Gala Dinner where color code for women was Pink and for men blue. Everyone

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 5 |

Remember, the more we give, the happier we feel. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. God bless." Because of AFS, I have a son now By Santosh Rajpathak, Host Father of Noe Robert from France


got excitement until the 19th October, the date of the festival this year. I think Diwali is a unique festival where Indians principally share their happiness and show their respect to God and the people they love. My Diwali started few days before the festival, when I met and gave gifts to family and friends. During the big day I made rangoli all the morning with my host sisters and few guests that visited my parents. In the afternoon I went to two gurdwara to pray with few members of my family and in the evening, I burnt crackers. There are a lot of traditions around this day, but it was when I put candles and Diyas all around the house with my sisters that I enjoyed most. It was a magical moment where all three of us worked together to light candles, the symbol of hope!

The More We Give, The Happier We Feel! By Kanika Rana, Host Mother of Joan Ribaudi from Spain "Sometime in April, an email pops up in my inbox, seems to catch my eye, stays on my mind. The mail speaks about being a host family to an exchange student. I am not too sure about what I really understood but it just stayed with me for the next few hours.

(Photo Above: With family)

Honey, I have something to share with you, can we become host parents to a teenager from some other country? Well sounds to be a good. It will be a lovely experience as this is a way to give back to the society. I speak to the contact at my workplace to understand more about the program from AFS. I also set up a call with their office in Delhi to speak to someone who can give me a little more insight about the intercultural program.

"Through one of my AFS friend I got information about AFS work and I became a part of AFS Family. I got opportunity to host a French student. As a host family I am very happy with the host student. The bond which we created through time made me realize that now I have a son with whom I can cherish the relations of mother. Because of AFS, I have a son now and his name is Noe Robert. He is doing excellent during AFS exchange program and I am proud to know him. Thank you AFS."

Diwali helped me to discover how we celebrate and enjoy in a different way respect how I used to do in Italy. During big functions like Christmas or Easter I usually meet all my parents, eat a lot of food and share gifts. The way is different, but the most important thing remains celebrating!" Diwali: The Greatest Experience By Alice McGuiness, NSLI-Y Student from USA, hosted at Indore

Diwali Celebrations By Filippo Pretotto, Italian participant in school program hosted in Jamshedpur

(Photo Above: Celebrating Diwali) "Through celebrating the Diwali festival, I genuinely felt at home in India. Eating too many sweets with my host sister and wearing my host mom's traditional Jhumka earrings. I could simultaneously enjoy and learn from my family. I am looking forward to lighting Diyas next year, and thinking of my wonderful host family! "

(Photo Above: With family) Finally, we decided to enroll ourselves for this beautiful experience. The girl we picked to be a part of our family, was taken up by another host family. We were destined to meet with Joan as he was the only one left to be placed in Mumbai. We had a first call with him while he was in Spain; he came across as a sweet boy. He had a question such as if he will be allowed to listen to music, walk on the streets and get to eat good food. Pre-arrival preparations got on way, making up space to welcome him into our space. 2nd July, we welcomed Joan, as a part of our family. We were very excited, guess a bit nervous too, on how would he fit into the family. Each day since then has been a learning experience not only for him but for us too. Joan has taught us a lot about his culture and we have been sharing our own. It has widened our perspective of life & how other cultures think & operate. My son & he enjoy a lot of boy’s time together whether its playing or fighting up for small things.

(Photo Above: Celebrating Diwali)

Main agale saal phirse Diwali manana chahti hoon!

"I enjoyed the lights festival very much with my family members. Preparing and decorating Diyas made me feel very interested in this festival. Then, during Diwali celebration, we put oil in Diyas and we put them around the house and it was beautiful. We also made a gorgeous Rangoli in front of our house. Going around the city and seeing colorful lights in every house made me understand how much is this festival felt by people in India."

By Megan Levan, NSLI-Y participant from USA, hosted in Indore

Fun Diwali By Maddalena Bienati, Italian participant on Boarding School hosted at Patiala

"Namaste, Diwali ki chutti bahut acchi thi! Mujhe bahut maza aya! Mene apne parivar ke sath Diwali ke liye tayari ki. Ek din humne chakali banayi aur dusare din humne gunje banaye. Mene bhee rangoli banani sikhi aur mene chaar rangoli tyohar ke liye banayi. Meri peheli rangoli bahut buri thi, lekin chouthi sham tak mere koushal bethar ho gaye the aur mera phool accha lag raha tha.

Joan got unwell with a virus which was rare in India, but not even once did he miss his family as we were his pillars of support. This further strengthened the bond between him & us. AFS has been there as always to support in good times as well as testing ones. Each day is beautiful to see him learn our culture, habits and the language. He attempts to speak Hindi, travels on his own & drinks his coconut water (his favorite) every day. This volunteering experience has been amazing. It has been so beautiful to share our culture with him. We are not even half way there yet, but also looking forward to the rest of our journey with him.

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 6 |

(Photo Above: With family) "Since my arrival in Patiala, my classmates and younger (host) sister have talked so much about Diwali that I

(Photo Above: During Diwali) Mene apna naya lehenga pehena aur mene apne parivar

ke sath pooja ki. Phir hum sub Annapurna mandir gaye. Unnis Octubar bhee mere pita ka janmadin tha, isliye main apni choti behen ke sath cake kharida. Cake khane ke bad humne patakhe jalaye. Chuttiyan badiya thi. Main agale saal phirse Diwali manana chahati hoon!" Culture, Festivals & Religion

about the story and significance of the festival, attended diwali parties and melas with great food, and even one mela with shopping stalls from states all around India, and strung beautiful lights and flowers around the house with my family. Although no official competition was held my sister and I most definitely conclude that our lights

By Noe Robert, University year program student from France, hosted at Pune

(Photo Above: Diwali Celebrations with family)

(Photo Above: During Diwali with host family)

(Photo Above: During Diwali with host brother) "Diwali festival impressed me by its size and how all Indians gather together by lighting firecrackers, filling the night with lights and making the day longer. I've been surprised by the rituals during the morning, to being oily and remove it with a special soap; I've loved cooking the special sweets and snacks; once again it has showed me how Indian culture is different from France's, how religion is a huge part of this culture, and I'm so glad to have discovered and still discover it. Thank you AFS!" Puja, Prashad & Love By Peyton Newfont, NSLI-Y participant from USA hosted at Indore

were the best in the society. Even after all of this I still must admit I wasn’t actually sure how the whole day went down. It began with the meticulous creation of a flower rangoli, we all got dressed in traditional Indian, me in the colourful suit my host mother had gifted me, and greeted sweet bearing guests throughout the day. We lit candles and diyas going up all the stairs from the bottom to the top of the house and illuminating any dark place, after sundown we performed a very complicated and intriguing pooja for the goddess Laxmi. We spent the rest of the night with our friends, eating and chatting on the balcony while illegal fireworks burst all around us. Festivals like these are the moments when I really realize that an opportunity like this one may never again in my life come, and how very amazing an opportunity it is."

in my host father native place by burning crackers. At 4pm. we came back to home. And we were waiting for night to celebrate Diwali again." Diwali: Time for Reuniting and Fun By Martina Troia, Italian participant on school program, hosted at Mumbai

Beautiful Diwali By Paolo Maresca, Italian participant on Boarding program hosted in Patiala "Diwali was great, one of the best days since I'm here. A beautiful day for spending time with my family and friends. During the day I helped my dad with the lights and candle. In the afternoon we went for buying firecrackers and during night I assist to their pray, taking part in it. After this I stayed with my brother and my friends while busting firecrackers." People, Food & Lights By Sidney Carr, BP participant from USA hosted at Mumbai

(Photo Above: Diwali Celebrations with family) "Diwali festival of lights was really amazing, I enjoyed with my family and my society. My host brother & I did Rangoli and I celebrated with my family doing Pooja. In this occasion I could wear many traditional Indian dresses. Another fantastic point about Diwali was the lights in all the city and the incredible quantity of firework and firecrackers that we made. In fact, we made big fireworks and firecrackers for days, I've never done so many fireworks in my entire life, that was absolutely a great moment.

(Photo Above: During Diwali with host family) "The most meaningful part of Diwali for me was the Puja that we did in the evening. My entire extended family crowded into the tiny prayer room together. The whole wall ahead of us was covered in flowers and statues of Gods and the little shelves were overflowing with freshly made ‘prashad’. Yet even in this wonderful little sanctuary, my emotions were conflicted. I didn't know hardly any of the songs, nor did I understand which Gods we were worshiping and why. But my Mom kept giving me this little grin like "Isn't this great? Don't you just love this?" And I couldn't help but enjoy flashing a smile back. Even though I live with the ever-present knowledge that I am different, the beautiful ceremonies throughout Diwali helped me understand that is a privilege to get even a glimpse into the rich lives and culture of my Indian community. To some extent, I will always be an outsider in India. I'm American. Yet so many people are eager for me to become a part of the country they love and have worked tirelessly to make Indore my home. I am grateful to everyone who has graciously welcomed me into their lives and I continue to learn from their faith."

(Photo Above: Diwali Celebrations)

Festival of Lights

Traditional Diwali

By Olivia Vita, YES Abroad participant from USA, hosted at Delhi.

By Suteera Nilmanee, Boarding School participant from Thailand, Hosted at Karaikudi

"For me Diwali, the festival of lights, was the festival of food, decorations, family and friends. The days leading up to the festival were just as busy and valuable, I learned all

"My Diwali celebration with my host family was really awesome! I studied the Indian tradition too. On Diwali, I woke up at 7 am. and I took Seasame oil bath I felt fresh on that day. Host mother made Gulab jamun for us. Myself and host family went to native of host father and I went to temple in their native village. I celebrated Diwali

"This Diwali was my favorite festival by far. I had such an amazing time with parties, shopping, and the gorgeous lights. My family and I painted over 60 lanterns and put them around the house, it was time consuming but worth it. I took it upon myself to put oil and wicks in each then light them. I absolutely loved it. My family hosted a big party and we had lots of people and food and lights, it was a great experience. We also lit many firecrackers on the roof for the celebration."

(Photo Above: Puja) Day after Diwali we went to meet relatives and we had nice day with all her family, also my other host brother came from Delhi to celebrate with us. Then another day family friends and other relatives came to our place for visiting us. Diwali was absolutely one of the best festival I ever did. One of the best part was the atmosphere all around me, everyone was excited and happy for this festival, people was reunited for preparing and celebrating Diwali, people was staying together and enjoying. I also tried to understand the religious explanation behind this festival and was nice to improve my knowledge in Hinduism's festivals. Diwali was one of the greatest experience of my life and I'm happy to have the opportunity to enjoying it."

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 7 |



My Volunteering Experience with AFS India By Sweta Parmar, AFS Delhi Chapter Volunteer

radiant personalities. It was so nice spending time with those beautiful children who are extraordinary in so many fields such as dance, music, some in academic and several other curricular activities. I was feeling so glad, blessed and special to be a part of their lives on Children's day, Nehru Jayanti and Guru Purab of the year 2016. There we painted walls of the school classrooms and had tea made by them, we had tea and biscuits which those little kids offered to us which really made me too emotional and making me realize how life can be lived in any circumstances and as it left a deep impact on me by knowing that despite any rough roads, the will to achieve can be reached. Those kids were so enthusiastic and zealous that we can see a spark in their eyes of positivity. I almost spent whole day there playing with them, dancing and singing with them. Cracked jokes and shared their stories of the dreams they see. It was overall a blessed experience for me to be part of their lives for a day though I often visit there now.

as her name indicates herself. Both the ice breaker activities were very helpful for interacting with everyone. It helped me to know many things about them in a very short time. This reminds me of Shobha from Bangalore chapter. Actually according to the activity she was not my date still she insisted me to sing a song for her and I sang a Hindi song named " tere chehre main woh jaadu hai...” just in few seconds we were laughing and feeling so much respect for each other. I remember how from that moment whenever Shobha came across me in those days of AVM I always used to sing a song for her and she laughed sweetly. It's amazing how just an activity could spread so much happiness among strangers.

Wonderful Annual Volunteer Meet Experience

Next day, waking up to a beautiful morning and delicious breakfast I got ready for the next session on Global Citizenship by Francisco and Jyotsna Bhatnagar. It was like I am on my way to enlightenment which would make me think beyond happiness. I came across the aim of AFS which is “To create awareness and being a part of the world as global citizen. It's very important to come out from our comfort zone and put ourselves in others culture to get more understanding. In reflection session, we got the platform to put our views and listen to others Leadership session by Aadil Sir and Divya Ma’am was a wonderful experience again. It was deeply a self learning process. Every activity ( balloon activity, 1 to 60 chart activity or drawing an object regarding what is a leader?) helped us understand what it means to be a leader and being part of a team. 1 to 60 chart activity was more memorable for me.

By Manisha Bhole, AFS Volunteer from Nashik The most fascinating thing was traveling by Air. The take off and the landing both were wow moments for me. To be in the midst of clouds created a beautiful rainbow of feelings in my heart.

(Photo Above: With kids) AFS has been a great experience for me since the time I was given the opportunity to be a host parent. I still remember the day of July 2nd 2013 when I became (host) mother of a wonderful daughter “Syahirah Aziz” from Indiana (USA) for 10 months but that bond of being her parent was so strong that I never say now I’ve a single daughter but now I’ve two and we always visit to each other’s place at least once in a year in the past four years. When she left back for her country, I felt too lonely so I thought of to be in connection to AFS and when I decided to volunteer in this organization, I was overwhelmed and feel blessed to be a part of AFS family. Here, I have had several heartwarming as well as amazing experiences of a life time. Amongst all of those one is when I got an opportunity to volunteer with AFS mates in an NGO of underprivileged kids in a government primary school at Okhla. I reached there by taking metro but when I walked through the streets, they were in such bad conditions and the garbage and litter were found on the sides of the road. But in that unhygienic environment too, the kids were so magnificent with their charismatically

Impact of



We all were welcomed in Delhi in a beautiful hotel. The entire atmosphere was full of joy and beauty. Very soon I came to know the actual beauty was neither in the atmosphere nor in the hotel but in the heart of people I was going to meet.

For this activity, when Divya ma'am announced my name for a cute prize and Angela ma'am touched my cheeks softly I felt like I was in my own home with my own family. Both of these ladies easily made me and others a part of the AFS family.

Quiz contest and talent show were full of fun for us. Quiz was very well planned and executed by AFS India staff. It really reflected the hard work of National office. From our welcome to departure, in every moment I found a hard working and supportive staff of National office. They are just amazing! For the arrangements of AVM and the huge success of the Meet, I would say, Hats off to them. Whenever the staff got time they got involved with every chapter with their sweet smile and genuine respectful words.

(Photo Above: At Annual Volunteer Meet 2017) The first energetic voice which has the power of tremendous positivity came out of the mic and all the fear in my heart just vanished away. She was Divya great friends, or going on outings with my host family. I have been to various places in California like Santa Monica Courthouse, Watts Tower, Fresno and Newport Beach. Well, every visit was enjoyable and full of learning. I also want to share my fascinations here. To mention some, people’s honesty, roads, friends, and

Finally I want to share one thing I found which is beyond happiness and that is deep satisfaction. Satisfaction for being a part of team which gives me positive, healthy heart which has love for everyone as a human being, healthy thoughts which makes me live a better and creative life. This gives me a lot of peace and energy! Thank you AFS!" Positive Changes By Fiza Vahora , Hosted in Utah

Expect the Unexpected

(Photo Above: With Host Family)

By Pooja, Hosted in California

"It's been almost one and a half month in US. It's so much fun here meeting new people, exploring new places and realising that it's a lot different than what I thought or what everybody else said about it. Going to school every day meeting other exchange students is exciting. It's so good to know their beliefs, culture and country. Talking about community service, it is the thing I enjoy the most. It gives you so much happiness knowing that you were part of a good cause and someone is smiling or is happy because of you. Within a month there are many small positive changes in me such as figuring out what to do and what not to do. I am excited for the new things coming up and truly believe that this is going to be the best year of my life."

"I feel extremely glad at this moment of time sharing my experiences with you. First of all, my heartiest thanks to AFS Intercultural Programs India for identifying my capabilities and giving me this wonderful opportunity. To begin with, my stay has been awesome. As the day passes, it adds to my learning and experiences. For me each day is valuable, each day offers me more than what I can learn. I believe I would definitely be a more responsible and mature person after a year because of this awesome stay here, on my own. Talking about my routine here, I usually remain engaged all the time, be it studying, helping my host parents, hanging out with my

AFS Intercultural Programs India | October 2017 | Page No - 8 |

(Photo Above: With School Friends) cleanliness have caught my eyes. To conclude, the most important thing I have learnt from my experience is that we must always expect the unexpected and never feel down, rather be ready for the challenges ahead. My life runs on the saying, “I can do it”. It encourages me to take every endeavour. Also, I realised that America is much more than we think of it. It is awesome; the need is to explore it with full enthusiasm. Once again, thanks for providing me the opportunity."

AFS Intercultural Programs India Newsletter | October 2017  

Your source to stay up to date with AFS Intercultural Programs India's activities, events & opportunities. AFS provides intercultural learni...

AFS Intercultural Programs India Newsletter | October 2017  

Your source to stay up to date with AFS Intercultural Programs India's activities, events & opportunities. AFS provides intercultural learni...