Our tour leaders regularly escort student groups around Asia helping to inspire young people to make a positive impact on their lives and the world around them. One thing is for sure, our highly trained leaders always put their heart and soul into the job they love, as in-country facilitators and passionate educators. We would like to take this opportunity to share the experiences of two of our leaders from India and China who have been keeping in busy in recent months while waiting for international travel to rebound. Many teachers out there receiving this newsletter will have travelled with these two leaders before.
Greetings from India!
By Amit Panariya (Tour Leader, Student Educational Adventures) – India
Hello lovely people!
My name is Amit Panariya and I am one of the Student Educational Adventure’s tour leaders from Mumbai in India!
The COVID situation in India has certainly been tough as you might know – especially for people like me who eat sleep and drink travel. We Indians are very resilient culture and as they say, when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade. As such, I have been keeping myself busy with a lot of homebound activities and learning avenues.
I can hardly remember staying at home for more than a week in the last 10 years since I took up trip leading as a career and this pandemic has shown me the true meaning of the phrase “Feeling at Home” means. I shifted to my parents’ house so that I could support them. It allowed me to care for them and love them, which was hard to do with my busy travelling schedule. I think the best thing that happened due to this pandemic was I got to celebrate my Dad’s birthday in many years.
This downtime has also given me a great chance to plant close to 100 saplings of flowering and fruiting plants in my backyard. I think that in about five years down the lane it would be amazing to see these saplings come to live and provide organically grown fruits for the next generation. I strongly believe that the solutions to many of the world problems could be solved if we increase the green cover on this planet.
Mumbai is a top tier metro city and has a lot of people migrate from rural areas for work here. Due to the sudden announcement of the lockdown, many of these migrants were stranded in the city without money or food. A few friends and I from my neighbourhood would cook up a local staple rice-based meal called the Biryani and make about 500 packets that would be delivered to the needy. We continued every day for about a month until the government made provisions for the migrants to travel to their villages.
Finally, I have made the most of this situation by enhancing my knowledge on imparting experiential skill-based learning by attending many webinars and live talk shows. Ted talks from various speakers in the field of education & travel and working with kids was extremely helpful. I also became certified in the techniques of Organic Farming. I have just completed a Wilderness First Responder training course, brushed up a lot on contingency management issues related to school trips. I have also started learning Spanish.
Whilst my country faces many environmental challenges, one thing our government does well is managing our wildlife, and this is something I am passionate about! These days I take every chance to explore the woods photographing the lesser-known fauna and enhancing my knowledge about the wild through online research. This I think will come in handy when I am back leading trips, when I hope to see some of your lovely faces. Stay positive my friends!
Amit (Mumbai, India)
Dear Teachers & Students!
By Jenniffer Chen (Tour Leader, Student Educational Adventures) – China
I’m Jennifer from beautiful Guilin. I think it has been a long tough time for all of us to fight against the COVID-19 problem since January of the Chinese New Year. China became a hot spot when thousands of people feel sick, but then were cured with the help of professional medical teams. During the past year, we have been fortunate because of the effort and cooperation of our people to control the virus situations and it seems we have made it. As for now, our lives are returning to normal as most kindergartens and schools are open and people are mostly back to work.
As a tour guide for Student Educational Adventures for two years now, I remain optimistic even though tourism has stopped for 10 months already. China is such an interesting and diverse country with a very long history. In China, we have one saying, “Don’t curse the darkness — light a candle.”
We in China will not rest until our country returns to normal and look to the days again soon when people will return to experience and explore our beautiful culture and country. When the virus is gone, all will be back. Chinese have begun travelling in China since the middle of 2020 and domestic travel is 90% back to capacity now.
I stay confident during these zero foreign school tour days as I have my family, my pets and I have improved my cooking and swimming skills. Even my husband enjoys my food now, which I think he never did before. My cooking has improved a lot, I think! I read more books and always believe “every cloud has a silver lining”. As a tour leader and educator, I really want to continue to make a positive impact on the youth of today for a better world tomorrow. I am looking forward to meeting you in the future. Welcome to China!
Jennifer Chen (Guilin, China)