CEE has been hosting batches of students from Central Queensland University, Australia, and Western Sydney University from different streams for the Sustainability Exchange Programme. This programme is designed to provide holistic exposure to the socio-economic and environmental diversity of India with a view to promote sustainability and cross-cultural understanding. The programme focuses on hands-on learning through field visits and working sessions related to the respective disciplinary areas of the participants.

Sustainability Exchange Programmes (SEP) in Lucknow

CEE North, as a lead agency for RCE Lucknow, designed and hosted a Sustainability Exchange Programme (SEP) for 20 students of RCE Greater Western Sydney. Students from Western Sydney University (WSU) visited India during November-December 2018 for the exchange programme. The students and the four faculty members accompanying them were from the Teacher Education, Environmental Studies and Health Studies streams of WSU.

This programme is designed to provide the participants with an exposure to the social, environmental and cultural diversity of India in their respective fields, with a view to understand sustainability. SEP 2018 consisted of classroom sessions and field visits for urban and rural immersion, keeping the focus on SDG 6 on water and health. The subject sessions were held at the Institute of Wildlife Sciences in the University of Lucknow campus. The workshop included a combination of lectures, activities and demonstrations. Undergraduate students from University of Lucknow also joined the classroom sessions held at the University.

The sessions centred on core issues related to water availability, accessibility, quantity and quality, and its impact on health and the environment. These were dealt with in both urban and rural contexts, and were supplemented by visits to the river bank of Gomti, a slum area of the city, and visits to villages and schools.

The students interacted with the officials, NGO members and community members to understand issues related to water and health. They also visited schools in Lucknow to see the activities and projects schools undertake on environmental issues. This helped them understand the differences and similarities in curriculum and pedagogy in the education systems of India and Australia.

The group was divided into two batches, with one batch staying in Lucknow while the other went on the field trip for rural immersion, and then reversed. The rural visit included visits to two protected areas - Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. Cultural experiences such as a Heritage Walk in the old city area to see the monuments of Lucknow, a visit to Lucknow Mahotsav and to Agra, were organised as part of the programme.

The group was also given an opportunity to experience a special Bollywood evening to showcase a popular movie with dance and music, followed by a dance session on Bollywood songs. Hindi language sessions were arranged for them to learn a few common phrases and terms. The programme culminated in a valedictory session gathering the entire group together. The feedback of the students and faculty at the end of the programme brought out the impact the experience had on them. Many of them considered the experience a life changing one. They were impressed with the way schools and organisations find solutions to the challenges they face even with limited resources.

Sustainability Exchange Programme in Ahmedabad

Communication for Sustainable Development (CSD) Group hosted two batches of students from Central Queensland University (CQU) during the year as part of the Sustainability Exchange Programme. This programme is designed to provide a holistic exposure to the socio-economic and environmental diversity of India with a view to promote sustainability and cross-cultural understanding. The programme focuses on hands-on learning through field visits and working sessions related to the respective disciplinary areas of the participants.

Nursing Students – October 20 – November 3, 2018

A group of 10 nursing students and two faculty members visited Ahmedabad as part of the SEP. The objective of their visit was to gain an experience of the health care scenario in India. CSD arranged to place them in two private hospitals and visit a public hospital, besides a nursing college. Accordingly, they spent three days each in a multi-specialty and women’s hospital, visited a public hospital and a nursing college.

The participants were divided into two groups, each consisting of a faculty and four or five students. The groups alternated between two hospitals in the city – Zydus Hospital (a multi-specialty hospital) and Brinda Women’s Hospital. In these hospitals, they were able to observe the various departments, learn from the doctors and interact with the nursing staff on the challenges faced and how they are overcome.

A visit was arranged to the Gujarat Cancer Society Medical College and Research Centre as well as to LG Hospital which is run by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, which gave them an experience of a trust-run and a public hospital. The group was then taken to Khyati Nursing College, where they could see the facilities, interact with faculty and students, and understand the nursing education scene in Gujarat/India. The staff of Khyati Nursing College and the team from CQU both made presentations on the nursing education in their respective countries and also interacted with the students and faculty.

The students had raised funds to contribute to one of the hospitals they would visit. This fund was used to donate an equipment to the Brinda Women’s Hospital which was handed over at a special function organised at the hospital.

As part of cultural exposure, visits were organised to Adalaj Stepwell, Sabarmati Ashram and Sundarvan – A Nature Discovery Centre. An evening of traditional and pop music and dance of India was also organised with traditional lamps and sweets to invoke Diwali. The trip was rounded off with a traditional dinner at Vishala – a restaurant with a village ambience.

At the valedictory function, the students made PowerPoint and poster presentations on their learnings, takeaways and experience in Ahmedabad.

Environmental Science, Science and Digital Media Students – January 8-22, 2019

CSD group hosted another group of nine undergraduate students from Environmental Science, Science and Digital Media along with one faculty, from Central Queensland University, Australia, as part of SEP.

The group were taken on various field visits, notable among them being: Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad; Thol Bird Sanctuary, near Ahmedabad; Sundarvan, Ahmedabad; the e-waste management facility of E-Coli Waste Management Pvt. Ltd.; and Mahila Housing Trust, Ahmedabad. They also went on a two-day nature camp to CEE’s campsite at Bakor, where they learnt more about the biodiversity of Gujarat, as well as visited an archaeological site and a waterfall nearby. A session on pollution was also organised for them at CEE.

As they were just in time for the celebration of Uttarayan in Gujarat on January 14, they enjoyed learning how to fly kites and experience local festivities on the terrace of a multi-storeyed building in Ahmedabad. Besides these, a Bollywood evening was organised for them at CEE with pop music and dance. They could also experience the traditional cuisine of Gujarat at a dinner hosted at Vishala – a restaurant with a village ambience and traditional food and entertainment.

At the valedictory session, the students made presentations on their experiences in Ahmedabad and their learnings and takeaways from the programme.