India stint makes US students fall in love with Indian culture

India stint makes US students fall in love with Indian culture

India stint makes US students fall in love with Indian culture

Highly impressed by the rich diversity of Indian culture, four American high school students say their year-long stay in India has been a life-changing experience which taught them family values and serious work ethics.

One year ago, Ryley Conway, Magie Alexander, Rowan Croswell and Mila Loneman - coming from different parts of the US - had a very little knowledge about India.

In fact all of them, were anxious about their year-long stay in India, which they had earned under Kennedy-Lugar YES (Youth Exchange and Study) Programme.
Once back from India, these American students now consider themselves as cultural ambassadors of India in the US.

Not only they love wearing "salwar-kurti", they regularly put bindi, have mehandi in both of their hands, and prefer traditional Indian dishes from Chennai - Idli, Dosa, Sambar, Chutney and rasam.

It's their new home they tell their family members and friends back home a year later.

"Before I came to India it was like a foreign land (for me). But when I think of India (now) it is my home. I really don't want to say it is my second is my home only," Mila Loneman told PTI in a joint interview with three other awardees of the Kerry-Lugar YES program.

"It was most amazing and life changing experience of my life," said Ryley Conway.
From New York, she stayed in Chennai with a family and studied in a high school.
Ryley said her stint in India taught her what family values are.

They say they are highly impressed by the depth and diversity of Indian culture.
One needs to stay in India much longer to understand the various aspects of Indian culture, they said.

"Schools in India are so different from ours," said Magie Alexender, from Seattle, who studied at the Ladyanda Venkata Subarao Higher Matriculation School as a Class XI student.

Not only the school uniform was a new experience for her, but also she was impressed by the discipline of the students and the respect teachers are given by students in particular and the society in general.

"They have really got serious work ethics," Magie told PTI in an interview on her return from India.

And Rowan Croswell, the fourth student from the YES programme, described difference between Indian and American schooling system.

"American schooling is based on practice and application. You do all the four core subjects foremost of your schooling career. In India when you get into 11th grade you have three different streams and it is mainly memorisation. You memorise vast quantities of information from text book or from lectures and you have to able put back on the paper immediately," she noted.

Observing that Indians in general are "very very intelligent", Mila said Indians have a very strong work ethics.

"They have a lot of ambition and lot of motivation. When they decide they want to be an engineer, they want to be best engineer possible. That is very important thing about Indian culture. They are very dedicated about what they said they want to be," she said.

Under the YES Program so far, more than 6,890 students come to the US on the YES program to date, including 310 from India.

Since 2007, 148 Americans students travel overseas through this programme, including 15 to India.

Sponsored by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affair, the highly popular program offers American high school students and recent graduates full scholarships for up to one academic year to live and study in countries with significant Muslim populations.

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