Himalayan Education Foundation (HEF) works closely with Himalaya Inter College (HIC), Chaukori, in its aim to build and strengthen rural communities. For more than a decade, various initiatives by HEF helped the school children, especially girls, to pursue quality education. HEF also sponsored community level projects that empower women and youth and benefit the locals by generating income opportunities.
Mr. Mayank Mehta is a senior student at HIC, Chaukori. He is a native of Ganai, a town some 35 km away from the school. Son of a news reporter father, he aspires to join the air force or merchant navy after his graduation. He stays in a hostel on the campus as it’s not possible to commute to the school daily. We would like to share what life is like as a resident student at HIC campus. Let’s hear his story.
Hi, I am Mayank, studying 12th class at HIC, the school I consider as a temple of learning. I am fortunate to stay on the campus while I pursue my studies. Hostel life has its joys of living with my friends and teachers and also has benefits as it inculcates discipline and studiousness in us. I think of my teachers as mentors and life coaches. We are blessed to have our school located in the lap of nature, far from the hustle and bustle, free from pollution and noise.
My daily life starts with waking up at 5 AM. While the distant Himalayan snowpeaks catch the early morning rays of the sun and glimmer brightly in golden hues, we, the hostel mates begin our day. Thanks to the solar heating facility, we get hot water which feels very nice in the biting cold weather. By 5:30 AM we are off to the playground for our morning exercise. The fresh air and chirping of the birds refreshes the mind and I feel energetic and ready to start the day.
The sun has risen and the hillsides are bathed in the bright light while the valleys remain in shadows. It’s 6 o’clock. Time to go to the library, it’s learning time. The reading room is so spacious and well lit that I feel like studying seriously with full concentration. By the time I leave at 8:15 AM, the inviting sunlight outside elevates my mood. It’s going to be sunny today!
After bathing and donning the school uniform, I proceed to the mess where we have our morning breakfast. We have a dairy farm on our campus, from where we get fresh milk and curds. They supplement our diet and some students who are physically weaker get extra nutrition from these products. Now It’s 9:30 AM. The school is abuzz with the arrival of day scholars. Some of them come from nearby villages by jeeps and buses run by our school.
The bell rings and the morning assembly commences in the open space. All students and teachers participate in it. And after the prayer, news – happenings in our country and abroad is read out loud and important announcements are made. Then we disperse to our respective class rooms.
Maintaining physical distance in the classroom – A Covid precaution
We also have a digital smart classroom facility where multimedia and other aids are used for teaching. They make learning interesting and fun. I enjoy these classes very much as it’s easy to understand and remember what I have seen and heard. Knowing how to use computers is a part of our curriculum. So once a week, we go to the Computer Center where we can learn the skills to use them. This is also the place where I can access the Internet for my studies and projects. Students are not allowed to use mobile phones on the campus or in our hostel. Whenever necessary, we request our teachers or the warden to lend their phone.
Computer center: Our gateway to Internet
It’s noon. Time for a leisure break. We go out of the classrooms into the open. The sun is up in the clear sky. All around, hills and valleys are drenched in sunlight. It feels good to relax and banter with friends out in the warmth of the sun. After a while we return to our classrooms. Our teachers make us learn. They are strict and exacting while being helpful and friendly to students. They always exhort us to study well and come up in life.
The Covid pandemic has been terrible for us. At home I struggled to learn while everything else was locked down. Fortunately the school has opened after two devastating waves of the pandemic spanning one and half years. Still the threat is not gone entirely. So we have a reduced number of periods of study as a measure of precaution. These days the school closes at 2:10 PM. After a short assembly, everyone disperses. We hostellers go to the mess for our lunch and the day scholars to their homes.
Dining at HIC canteen
It’s 3 o’ clock by the time we get back to our dormitories. After a short nap or half an hour of rest, it’s time for extracurricular activities like sports and hobbies. Really this is an exciting time of the day. I, along with friends, go out into the school grounds. I play cricket. Others play volleyball and few others play their own games! All around it’s shouting and merriment. While playing, time passes in a jiffy!
Playing is an important part of our life at HIC
The evening sun casts long shadows in the valleys and snow peaks begin to receive their last rays of fading light. We finish our outdoor activities by 5:30 PM and return to our rooms to wash and clean. The sounds of birds returning to their nests fill the air. As the twilight envelopes the campus, I walk to the library for our evening learning session. Resident teachers are with us guiding in our studies and explaining any difficult concepts.
It’s already dark outside when the bell rings at 8 PM . We leave the library for the dining room for supper, which is an important meal for us after a day of mental and physical activity. As usual we get a delicious dinner that we devour enthusiastically! Thanks to our canteen staff who work hard to prepare those awesome meals. They do care for us.
After the dinner we head back to our dormitory for personal study time till 10 PM. We discuss what we have studied during the day and complete our homework. We help each other in our studies. For half an hour after this we get free time to do what we like. We usually talk, gossip and tease each other.
By now, there is chill in the air and stars shine brightly in the inky sky. The moon rises in the east and the snow giants make faint silhouettes in the horizon. Electric lights twinkle hesitantly in the valleys below and over the hills. The school clock strikes. It’s 10:30 PM. It’s bedtime, time to call it a day and get under warm blankets to start sleeping and dreaming!
That is how I spend my time as a resident student.That is also how we hostel mates spend our time together at HIC, our place of learning and living.
We at HEF thank our supporters and donors for their generous contributions towards building resilient Himalayan communities. HEF sponsored projects at HIC, Chaukori, include a solar lighting and heating system for the hostel, construction of a library building, setting up a dairy farm as a part of a children’s nutrition project, commissioning a computer laboratory, providing teaching aids and books etc., in addition to providing annual scholarships to 150 students, of which 100 are for girls.
Many thanks are due to Pradeep Nagarkoti, Coordinator, HIC and students Saurabh and Abhishek for their valuable inputs.- Ed.