The Global Alliance for Innovative Learning (GAIL) is a program offered by Woodstock that doesn’t just unite seven different nations but also brings together people with different ideas, opinions, and cultures from around the world.
Every year, Woodstock takes a group of students to a different school that organizes the conference.
Following the tradition, this year, a group of ten students went to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, United States, to represent India.
While spending two weeks in the United States, the participants didn’t just undergo many unexpected events but also relished their time building relationships with other students from around the globe. All of them brought back many memories.
GAIL is a challenge that these students took up without knowing what to expect. Some signed up simply because they love traveling, while the others wanted to get out of their comfort zone by trying something new. In either case, it seemed to have positive results.
Aviva Balani, Class of 2021 said, “I’d do GAIL over and over again for the rest of my life.”
Many students who went this year believed that GAIL is an experience that helped shape their personalities.
Mr. Luukkonen, GAIL Champ and Exchange Coordinator said, “Watching students grow during these conferences is out of this world. I see one person enter and an entirely new and improved version of themselves leave. Ninety percent of all GAIL students, not only Woodstock, arrive at the conference not as confident and outgoing as they do when they leave!”
When GAIL was first introduced five years ago, very few applications were received. However this year the program has taken a turn. With seventy-two applications, shortlisting twelve will be a tough task for both Mr. Luukkonen and the interns who are working towards selecting the finest students to represent the Woodstock community in 2019.
This conference allows students to get to know things about the culture and traditions of various countries.
Kristin School, New Zealand, portrayed its cultural ethnicity by performing and teaching the Haka dance. This is a war cry which consists of aggressive dance moves and loud singing. The locals usually perform this before a rugby game.
On the other hand, Scotch College, Australia, brought local games and some cereal which they used to create an outline of the nation. Woodstock spread the Indian culture by hosting a Diya painting session and making chaat for their peers on the cultural night. To bring the night to an end, Woodstock students taught everyone else some dance steps to an Indian song. Anchal Agrawal, Class of 2021 said, “During the one week we also taught people a few Hindi words and we told them a lot about the various events Woodstock hosts.”
Along with all the fun came the time for goodbyes. After building such strong relationships, wishing farewell was merely the hardest thing for each and every person.
Mr. Luukkonen said, “The most effective aspect I love about GAIL is the community you build throughout a one-week journey. I know a Woodstock student, GAIL alumni from 3 years ago, who is still very close with a group of GAIL students from all over the world. It brings this world together and makes it more united.”Above all, GAIL is an intense programme which requires a lot of planning. The seven schools often face conflicts while deciding the dates of the conference as the calendars never match. However, the event never portrays any such disadvantages and provides the students with a global understanding of various ideas and cultures.
Jia Loomba, Class of 2020 said, “I believe that everybody has a story to tell and there is always something to learn from it. Even I had a story to tell, so did all the others.”
Photos by Anchal Agrawal and Kuhu Singh.
Edited by Janvi Poddar.