In the past, the Bongaigaon region, also known as Bodoland, was a major national concern. This region was famous for its petroleum refinery and the Bodo culture, but it had so much more to offer. So when a group of eight students, coordinated by two teachers, reached Bongaigaon, the beauty of nature, the pleasantness of the locals, and the children’s eagerness astonished them. Gyan Setu has always encouraged students to plan their trips. But this was the first trip where a senior teacher from the college coordinated the trip.
Dr Sanjay Patil Sir, the head of the Geography department at Modern College Ganeshkhind, is an eager traveler. An environmental science enthusiast, Dr Patil completed his Ph.D. in agriculture. Having past experience of arranging mass study tours for students, this trip to Assam with eight students was not a challenge.
Dr Patil Sir read the brochure of Gyan Setu on WhatsApp and immediately took an interest in it. As a curious traveler and a nature lover, Gyan Setu offered him and his students a perfect opportunity. Dr Patil forwarded the brochure to various college groups and received an overwhelming response. Since only 8–10 students had to be selected, Sir conducted an offline objective test. The students were given ten days to study all aspects of Assam, and the top eight students were selected.
Dr Patil and Inamdar Madam were in charge of eight students travelling to a village in Bongaigaon, Assam. Since the railway booking was made at the last moment, the 55-hour long journey to Assam was very tedious. Their stay was at a school in Kajalgaon, situated 20–25 km away from Bongaigaon. The headmaster of the school was the local coordinator who provided the accommodations. Upon reaching Assam, the students were further split into two groups of four, headed by Dr Patil and Inamdar Madam, respectively. Each group visited two new schools daily for the next seven days. On the first day, a hall filled with 400 hundred children was overwhelming for my students, but their eagerness motivated them and gave them confidence.
The student-centric approach of Gyan Setu was easy to understand as well as to teach. Dr. Patil and the students tried their best to include humanities subjects like history and geography while performing the science activities.
When asked about the development, Dr. Patil Sir explained it in detail. Development is a multidimensional idea. However, people often connect it with destruction. This very attitude prevents the region from growing. Constant floods, illiteracy, and increasing unrest in the area limit economic growth. The ever-increasing gap between human and natural resources is fueling economic issues. However, these economic issues can be connected to the region’s political, social, and geographical aspects. The physical features create a barrier to development, resulting in slower economic growth and more unrest in the region. To get the region out of this vicious circle, the same population should be diverted from agriculture to industry.
Overall, this trip to Assam was a life-changing experience for students. The students went with the intention of teaching, but they ended up learning so much more. This trip lifted the confidence of the volunteers, and they proceeded to teach in slum areas of Pune. Dr. Patil would like to appeal to all the students to participate and create some phenomenal memories.
Dr. Sanjay Patil
Head of Department,
Modern College, Ganeshkhind, Pune