Far, far away: navigating through GEMS

When the sun is quite high up in the sky, the students start getting out of bed. Unlike last year, in tenth grade, this activity week starts quite slow. After an hour or so, all students and chaperones move to Ms. Lorry’s house and have a long and peaceful breakfast. She is the principal of Garhwal English Medium School. 


Then it is time to move along to enjoy the active and cheerful attitude of the school kids. After a 10-minute bus ride, the school comes into sight. It’s a small school made out of iron sheets which might look hot, but provide great shade from the sun at noon.

During the day, the students divide themselves up by tables. Each day has a focus on one subject, with four to eight tables with different activities. English, mathematics, arts, science, and sports were the five topics that we taught during this year’s Activity Week.


Going back to the village after school takes a bit longer than coming to school. It takes about 30 minutes by foot. However, the walk never feels like half an hour. The scenery, the wind, your friends, and sometimes the music, make everything feel perfect, even walking.

After coming back to the village, there is an afternoon tea with snacks that are delicious. After a long day, the sweetness of the cookies and chai warms up your stomach.

After snacks, everyone has a bit of free time before dinner. During this time, teachers and students have a meeting about everyone’s roles for the next day. 

When the sun starts disappearing behind the mountains, the final meal for the day is served. The meal is all vegetarian, but it is so good that no one complains about not having meat. Now, we had time to check off things off of our bucket list for the trip.

A list of things to do:

Stargazing and Late night walks – Go on walks late at night with your friends, enjoy the night breeze and the moonlit path. Don’t forget to stay in a group and always remember to wear warm clothes. Have fun stargazing, get a good spot that is undisturbed by tree branches.

Go to Sanvi restaurant – Eating dalchawal for a week will probably bore your taste buds. Enjoy the limited time at Sanvi restaurant. Aloo parathas and Maggie are strongly recommended.

Walk around the village – Sainji is a peaceful village, also known for its ‘corn drying’ tradition; try to enjoy the little things as you walk through. This is a great time to self-reflect but also to enjoy the old heritage the village contains. 

Trip to Yamuna Bridge – Going down to the Yamuna river will definitely be one of your trip highlights from GEMS. Don’t forget to enjoy a little stone skipping while you’re down there. Also, the cold breeze towards the evening after a hot and exhausting day at the school can be quite refreshing.


Play sports with the kids  – You will be spending most of your time at the school, so don’t forget to take part in local sports, such as Kabaddi and Cricket. The young boys and girls take these very seriously and occasionally take part in various tournaments in the region. 

Going alone at night – You can easily get carried away with going on late-night walks and stargazing but do not go alone! This is actually quite a serious rule as the village is situated in the middle of a forest with recurring sightings of wildlife. Stay in a group or at least with one person, especially at night.


Youngseo Noh contributed to this article

Shoaib Ansari and Youngseo Noh are staff reporters 

Photos by Shoaib Ansari 

Edited by Janvi Poddar


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