“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
We woke up the morning of the 12th of May with bittersweet feelings, shedding tears of joy recalling the week’s events, and tears of sorrow that it must come to an end. The morning started off with the teachers walking into our bungalow with sarees in hand and bright smiles on their faces. After wrapping sarees on each of us with so much joy and cultural pride, we took photograph upon photograph, dancing and posing in our beautiful sarees around the lawn. The teachers then put mehendi on our hands, and we were amazed at their creativity in drawing beautiful and intricate designs.
We then walked into BCA to begin the morning’s activities, with mehendi on our hands and bindis on our foreheads – much to the students’ excitement. We began with an activity on Geometry in Nature, explaining the Fibonacci Sequence and its applications in real life. We also worked on deriving pi through comparing circumference and diameter measurements and calculations. We were amazed at the students’ ability to grasp these concepts and relate them to what they have learned in the classroom previously. We then proceeded to our Building Bridges activity – one that the students had been looking forward to all week. The enthusiasm and creativity with which the students completed this challenge was - as it always had been - inspiring. Even when resources were scarce, the students found ways to design and build a functioning final product, and did so with fervor. It was particularly inspiring to see how invested students were, not even pausing to take a break for lunch. We ended the day with presentations for our Shark Tank simulation, with groups creating innovative solutions to destruction associated with monsoons, and working hard to present in an effective and convincing manner.
After interviewing for the local newspaper and enjoying a delicious lunch, we returned for the Valedictory function. This was an emotional ride for many, as the week filled with overwhelming happiness and creating unforgettable memories was coming to an end. A slideshow of photos from the camp was played, bringing us to tears as we relived heartwarming moments. The students from BCA gave beautiful speeches recounting the events of the week and their experience in the summer camp, touching our hearts to see the impact we had on them in regards to always persevering and not getting discouraged by setbacks. We then proceeded to enjoy entertainment from both ends – we particularly enjoyed performing Hail to the Victors, the Cup Song, and dancing to Bollywood songs. We could not help but smile when students screamed with joy as they saw us attempt to dance to Hindi songs like “Lejja Lejja” and “Om Shanti Om.”
We then expressed our experience being in Walchandnagar: from the moment we walked in, we experienced nothing short of kindness, generosity, hospitality, and respect. We felt that although we had come to teach and share engineering principles, we learned so much from the students’ creativity, innovation, and values of humility, kindness, and respect for teachers and parents. Although we are excited for what’s to come in our journey, visiting magnificent sites of India such as the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple, Akshardham, etc., we feel that we want to remain in Walchandnagar. Our feelings were summed up with the statement: when asked who her hero was during the camp, a student answered saying “my parents and teachers”; this week, we truly felt that our heroes were the students and teachers of BCA. We ended, of course, with a “3 cheers for BCA – hip hip hooray!!” with an immediate response of “3 cheers for Michigan University – hip hip hooray!!”
After a heartwarming exchange of gifts, Principal Sir concluded the function with his final words of the week. He expressed his gratitude for us SWE members having come from the United States to Walchandnagar to conduct a very successful camp. He encouraged the students to take away the key message that failure is just the first step to success. He expressed his feelings that the bridge between Michigan and Walchandnagar was connected after this year’s camp, overcoming new barriers; words cannot express the fulfillment we felt from having the opportunity to make this happen.
And that brought us to tough goodbyes and tears shed. However, we left with smiles on our faces thinking back to the fond memories made that we will cherish forever. The experience we had at BCA was truly life-changing, filled with moments of joy and happiness, friendship and comradery.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” And our journey is by no means over, as we hope to stay in touch with our new friends and our new family in Walchandnagar for years to come