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Marist College North Shore, Sydney

05/09/2011: Australia

Our group was the first ever immersion to India from Marist College North Shore, a Catholic secondary boys College in the Marist tradition, located in North Sydney. We travelled to the Kolkata and to village areas some two hours north west. We stayed and worked with three Marist Brothers who make schooling available to tribal boys whose homes have no schooling available in the mainstream language of Bangla.

We found communicating with these children quite challenging at first because of our lack of a common language. However, through sport, music, games and language teaching we realised that there was a high degree of appreciation and understanding between us.

Visiting the home villages of some of these boys was also quite eye opening because we saw the contrasts in social status of Indian society. We were really struck by how happy, welcoming and generous the poorest people were to us. They really went out of their way to help us to feel a connection with them. As one student said: “I have never been the one who was welcomed so much before. The hard work and pride that everyone showed when we were presented with gigantic bowls of rice, necklaces, numerous cultural songs and dances was just amazing. I am determined to be more welcoming of others myself in the future.”

These experiences will be held closely by us in the future because they showed us what it really means to be part of not only a Marist Family, but part of the same world as these wonderful people.
 Some of us took the opportunity to ride in a rickshaw, and in doing so were overwhelmed with the awareness that in lots of ways the world is unfair; for a human to be pulling other humans along in bare feet to eek out a living by getting the equivalent of a few Australian cents for each ride.

And another student reflects: “The India Immersion has changed the way I think about how I live my life. To only see the necessities of life, not material wants. It made me question my outlooks, and so I endeavour to change them.”

Our visit to the HIV hospital was most informative. The sisters and the counsellor told us about what is being done to help these people and how they work to manage the social impact of living with HIV in the villages. They reported that there are many of these clinics throughout India and how the government provides the anti retroviral drugs for free to these patients. The difficulty of arriving in the country, and travelling to unknown places was buffered by the wonderful hospitality of the three Marist Brothers who took care of us. We thank Brothers Alex, Paco and Jose Maria for this and we admire them for their mission to the young boys of the Talit Hostel.

__________
B.r Peter Corr
High Notes - Vol. 47 No. 11


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