Latest posts by Meenakshi (see all)
I’m going to be honest when I say that I had no idea what my father was getting me into. I had heard him talk about this project called Planet Harmony for really long and I knew he was really enthusiastic about it.
The plan was to get students (ages 15 – 18) and their teachers, from disturbed areas of India and to buddy them with a student from the National Capital region with whom they would stay for a few days. Students and teachers were coming from Shillong, Kashmir, Manipur and Chhattisgarh. My buddy’s name was Sonia and she was from Manipur. When I went to pick her up from the airport the first day, as soon as I met her, I knew we would both get along well. The first day we watched a movie and got to know each other. The second day we met all the other participants and went sightseeing in Delhi.
The day after that is when the real journey began. We all went to a camp called Camp Panther for ten days which is situated near the River Ganga in the Himalayas in Rishikesh. Thirty two of us students, our five teachers and the staff of Planet Harmony headed to the camp. The train ride was very enjoyable as everyone had already started bonding. We were all singing and having a lot of fun. The next ten days went in a jiffy. We did a lot of outdoor sports such a trekking, rafting and zip lining. I feel everyone enjoyed those activities immensely.
We also participated in many team building activities and the one I enjoyed most was where all thirty two of us were divided into groups of five in which we had to build posters signifying peace in ten minutes. We then had to go to the other groups’ posters and destroy them and then had to come back to our poster and see it ruined by the other groups. They then gave us the task of fixing our posters which we had fifteen minutes for. After that we reflected about the activity and learned that it’s very easy to destroy something but to build it up again takes time but it isn’t impossible.
We did a lot of activities to just get to know one another better. My favorite was the one called common ground in which we all stood in a circle. One at a time, we had to step into the circle and say one thing we like or dislike. And who ever agreed had to step into the circle as well. The activity made us realize that even though we came from different backgrounds are thoughts were very similar.
We did this really moving activity called river of life in which we had to talk about our ups and downs in our path of life. The session got quite heavy but we really opened up to one another and learned about each other’s lives. We also had a chat about the faiths we believe in. It was really interesting to get to know about other people and what they believe in. Another activity we did was called the trust walk in which there were two of us out of which one of us was blind folded. The other person had to guide the one who was blindfolded around. In the first round it was by just holding them but in the second by just talking to them.
I never felt alone or sad even for a moment. I had left all my silly Delhi worries behind and just gone there to have fun. Every evening in camp, we would have a cultural evening in which the people of a certain region would tell us about their culture and show us a dance or sing us a song. We heard a lot of beautiful Kashmiri songs, the Chattisgarhi girls and the Manipuri girls did a dance for us. On Delhi night we danced and sang for them as well.
On the last day of camp, we all were sad to leave but we knew that we had two more days in Delhi. So when we were on the train back home we were all singing happily. We went shopping and at night we all had a really big treat! We all went to see the Kingdom Of Dreams in Gurgaon which is the best show in the world, I feel!
The next day we had our closing ceremony and I feel everyone was a little sad on going back home. We all spoke about our experiences of camp and about the different things we did. My biggest learning and takeaway from this program was that it’s not important what region we come from, that is not what defines us. It is important to be an Indian first and being proud of the fact that we are.
As a result of this experience, I have become more confident and also more accepting and receptive. I look forward to facing the world in general with sharing my learnings with others.