The influx of foreign students interested to know more about Indian culture and heritage in Indore has seen a steady surge in recent times.
The number has increased after local schools started hosting exchanges programmes with institutes in countries such as Australia, United States of America (US), China, Switzerland and Italy among others.
In the current academic year (July 2014 - May 2015), Indore has hosted around 50 students in many of its schools including Daly College (DC), Emerald Heights International School, Shishukunj International School, Choithram Fountain Higher Secondary School and Choithram School Manik Bagh.
One of the major reasons for this surge, as suggested by Sarita Badhwar, Dean Internationalism (DC) and Indore chapter head of AFS Inter Cultural Programmes India, is "international understanding".
According to Rupert Azzopardi, student of Ivanhoe Grammar School Australia, cultural exchanges to India gives a better vision to understand India’s culture and its people.
"When people talk about India, they don't really understand this country and know very little about it. A course like this gives you exposure to value and know the culture better,” said the boy, who is in DC along with 18 other students to attend Round Square's Certificate Course in Indian Heritage and Culture.
On asking about the benefits of inter-cultural programmes, Mark Horsford, group leader (and teacher) of Ivanhoe Grammar School Australia said, "The benefits are many. It is always interesting to learn about a culture that is so diverse, vast and old. One may learn about the culture through internet or other means but coming here and then learning about it is altogether a different experience."
He further said, "The students were taken to attend an Indian wedding which was a thrilling experience for all, not only because of the rituals, but also because the whole concept of arranged marriages was an entirely unique for us."
Though the urge to understand the Indian culture is a common factor among all the students, there are interesting reasons that bring these kids here.
"American students come here to learn Hindi language since the US government has declared Hindi as one of the critical languages in their country. While some find their interest in Indian dances, many come here to improve their English like the Italian and Russian students," shared Siddharth Singh, principal, Emerald Heights International School.
So what do these courses offer? To this Vijay Rajopadhyay, senior faculty at DC, who has designed the RS’s certificate course said, "Students are taught about the Indian culture, festivals, religions, philosophy and much more. They are taken on heritage trips to different places like Mandav, Maheshwar, Jaipur and Agra to give them a sneak peek into India’s rich architectural history."