Exchange programs have a long term positive effect on young students

On 29 December 2020 when I was taking AIR-FRANCE back to Paris from the India Gandhi International Airport I had a very surprising & pleasant experience which I would like to recount here.

I came to India on a whirlwind personal & business trip in Dec 2020. My AIR-FRANCE flight was at 4 am early morning & at that wee hour of the morning, I was not having any person accompanying me to drop me at the Airport. Considering that I came to India after almost 10 months due to the restrictions emanating from the sanitary crises that have engulfed the world, I had a lot of luggage to take back to France as my family in France ran out of many things from India. It was understandable for them to order so many things as they were used to my travelling to India every three months & a 10 months break just piled up things for them. Once at the airport & with no help, I reached out to the trolly stand. As I turned around with the trolly I found a group of young boys & girls descending on me & in true Indian tradition touching my feet & it took me a while to recognize some of the faces as many of them had turned taller than me over last 3 to 4 years with some of them having long hairs topped up with nicely groomed beards. These were the students of BSAVA International School in Dwarka-Delhi who over the years participated in many of global citizens workshops & exchanges not only in India but in France & Germany in 2015-16 period.

Overwhelmed by their love & enthusiasm I almost forgot that I have left my big luggage as some distance and when I mentioned it to them, some of those lanky boys quickly bought them over & nicely placed them for me on the trolly.

We chatted for a while & met their parents too who had come to see them off. Now it’s here that I found that these young Turks are going to Germany to do their graduation in Automobile engineering & are taking AIR-INDIA flight to Frankfurt Airport.

After spending some nostalgic & happy moments with them & after boarding my flight, I started reflecting on what I just experienced. Slowly but surely I could see the jig-saw puzzles falling in place and a eureka moment dawned on me.

Going on the hindsight, I could recollect that these young Turks were part of an exchange program where we took them to France & Germany & as part of this exchange a group of joint-delegation of Indo-French students visited two Universities in France & Germany to let the teenagers discover the Universities in Europe & to have a 1st hand experience of the University environment & infrastructure and to meet some Indian students who are already studying in those Universities.

So a question came to my mind, was it the short 10 days exchange program taken 4 years back shaped the thoughts of the students to go for a University program of their choice in Europe? I could not say with assurance but somewhere in my heart, I believed that it must have played some part in their decision.

Later, when we exchanged our numbers and these students got touch with me in January 2021 to wish the new year my doubt turned into surety when one of them said ” Sir, if that tour in 2016 would not have taken place when they were in 9th class, probably we would not have been here”.

This statement was so reassuring & bought immense satisfaction to me & my team who have for the past 10 years have been working with schools & universities across India & Gulf countries to provide exactly these opportunities to students.

As a team we believe that these are our real “earnings” & this is why project Le Frehindi-Paris exists.

Also, it makes our resolve more stronger to carry the work with more passion & enthusiasm going forward in a post COVID era.

Haru MEHRA

President & CEO, Le Frehindi-Paris

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