Twenty-one students taking French or Spanish classes visited tourist attractions around Mussoorie in the month of March, creating videos – or “vlogs” – as tourist guides for future French or Spanish tourists. This was one of the programs offered in the annual Outdoor Learning Weekend.
Starting at the school main gate, the students walked through Tehri Road and Mall Road, finally reaching the Tibetan Homes School in Happy Valley. The area is distinct in Mussoorie for its Tibetan population, with more than 5,000 Tibetan refugees in 2016.
Some highlights of the trip include riding the cable car ride Ropeway to Gun Hill and visiting Shedup Choephel Ling Buddhist Temple.
Simon Sookias, Class of 2021, also celebrated his birthday in a surprise party in the Little Llamas Café.
After a three hour walk, the students arrived at Happy Valley and had lunch in the Tibetan Homes Foundation café. The mission of the Tibetan Homes Foundation is to work “for the care of orphans, semi-orphans, and destitute Tibetan refugee children.”
One fact not commonly known is that the origins of Happy Valley as a Tibetan community go back to the visit of the Dalai Lama to Mussoorie in 1959. He was guiding the Tibetan Government in exile, staying in Mussoorie for one year. The Indian government sanctioned the region for Dalai Lama and his followers.
The Tibetan culture was not lost by the community, as evident by the Buddhist temple nearby which is recognized as the 1st Tibetan shrine to be built in India.
The students ended the trip with a short trek up a hill to visit the Buddhist temple and view the Mussoorie valley and the Himalayan ranges, with the resemblance of the house of George Everest far away.
When asked about the inspiration of the activity, Mr. Agustin SilvaDiáz, Spanish teacher, said, “There are very few tourism guides in Spanish or French, and it would be a great practice for students. Sometimes, when we’re living in a place, we don’t do the touristy stuff. It’s really nice to get to know the tourist attractions where you live.”
Mr. SilvaDiáz hopes that the videos will be “interesting for people that are getting around India.”
Ms. Loubna Tanji, French teacher, organizer of the program, said, “We are a school that promotes outdoor learning.” She also said that the objective of the activity was to “have a cross-curricular activity that we could do outdoor, combining language and outdoor learning.”
Ms. Loubna also noted that students who edit their video and submit it will get extra credit and the videos will get published on YouTube.
In alignment with the expectations of the teachers, the students enjoyed the trip.
Daniel Kim, Class of 2021, said “it was fun visiting the places and incorporating what I learned in French. I would do it again.” Another student, Ritvik Pothapragada, Class of 2021, said, “it was interesting to learn more about the area I lived in. I would not have gotten such an opportunity otherwise.”
The organization of the program had some errors. Kyutae Kyung, Class of 2021, participated in the activity, regardless of him not being enrolled in any French or Spanish classes. He recalls that he was “confused and shocked”, but that in the end, he still “learned a lot about Mussoorie.”
“My hopes and expectations were that people enjoy the trip,” Ms. Loubna said. “They would be practicing their French and Spanish. I think we all had fun so I think my expectations were met.”
Jinho Yoon is a staff reporter
All photos by Jinho Yoon
Edited by Janvi Poddar