Students from India Come to Blake


Margaret Graham

Margaret Graham ‘14 took this picture when she first met up with people from the Indian school to ride up the mountain to their school.

Over the past spring break, 17 Blake students and three chaperones travelled to India, where they participated in an exchange with The Lawrence School in Sanawar for 7 days. The Lawrence School is a prestigious, private school that enrolls about 700 high school students, much like Blake.

Unlike Blake, The Lawrence School is a boarding school, so during the exchange Blake students were able to see what it was like to live on school grounds. While in Sanawar, each Blake student was paired with a Lawrence student to shadow, with whom they attended school, participated in fun activities such as cooking classes, and observed the inter working of The Lawrence School.

As part of the experience, Blake students saw firsthand differing household and educational structures, and were able to build friendships with their hosts. Ethan Graham ’17 confirms that the trip allowed him to compare and contrast two cultures, remembering that he “loved India” because he was able to “learn more about how people do things in India relative to how people do things in the United States.”

This October 25, the exchange will be reciprocated, and 20 Lawrence students will arrive in Minneapolis to spend eight days living in the home of their Blake partner. The eight days that Lawrence students will spend in Minneapolis are already scheduled with a variety of opportunities to both spend time with their host family, and immerse themselves into the cultural highlights of Minnesota.

The students will tour landmarks like the Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center, University of Minnesota, and the state capital. Balancing the formal sightseeing are recreational events planned for Lawrence students to enjoy certain activities that they might not have at home, including trick-or-treating on Halloween, a Blake Open Mic Night, and bowling In order to fully understand the life at Blake, Lawrence students will attend a full day of school on Monday, October 28. To Minnesotans in India, it seemed that the education system was where the biggest differences manifested themselves. Siona Dev ’14 noted that the Lawrence School “very different than ours in terms of the structure and how they learn.” Kelsey Swing ’15, also, was surprised that “the students in India were allowed to swear at their teacher” and that there “were zero discussions [in class] and very few questions asked/answered.”

Lawrence students can observe the reverse qualities in Blake classrooms, as well as that, as Dev adds, “we’re all learning the same material, halfway across the world and in such a different way!” Those who have had the benefit of participating in the exchange understand that education, while often similar in content, can mean a completely different school day experience depending on the region and culture.

Even those who are not hosting a student will be impacted by the exchange in some way, perhaps from hearing a new perspective in class, greeting some first-time trick-or-treaters, or hearing the Lawrence students give a presentation to assembly on Thursday, October 31.