Immersion – India
Posted on August 26, 2016
Reflecting on the 2016 Indian Immersion it “…has been one of laughter and joy, endurance and patience, angst and hope. The hospitality of the Marist Brothers, the LaSale Fathers and the Sisters has been gracious and generous. They live their faith and mission through authentic action. The Indian Immersion students have grown on this journey through embracing the challenges and displaying emotional maturity with their empathy and gentle nature”.
An Immersion is to stand in solidarity with others and develop an understanding for their plight by being present to their world. The nine students and three teachers lived Champagnat’s charism through hard work, simplicity, in the way of Mary and most of all presence. The 2016 Indian Immersion was our sixth immersion to the Marist community at Talit in West Bengal. It was a wonderful experience to see how the boys at the Marist Tribal Boys’ Hostel and the children at St Francis de Sales at Galsi have grown. Br Alex and the Marist Brothers, fathers, sisters and the parish communities were outstanding hosts and their support in enabling our immersion experience was truly appreciated.
Kolkata was a challenging experience with many people living in abject poverty living on the streets, coupled with the crowds, noise, heat and smell. The children we worked with in the Mother Teresa’s hospital and her Mother House was a special experience and one where her legacy of love was truly evident.
Anthony Munro reflected that the “Immersion has been a chance to interact with children in such a positive way. In a society where the problems are so many and varied, one can’t help but be inspired by the soon to be canonised Mother Teresa’s words ‘Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you”. The impact of our interactions, no matter how small, can never be underestimated”.
We travelled by train to Galsi and worked with the Santali children at St Francis de Sale School. The students taught the children lessons in English and we visited Santali villages. There were many games of soccer where friendships were forged and there was great rivalry. Our main focus was spending time teaching the boys at the Marist Tribal Boys’ Hostel in Talit and being with the children who have HIV at the Chetana Clinic. Special relationships were formed through the activities and games. It was a heartfelt farewell where the students truly gave their all in being with those in need.
Luka Flannigan reflected “The Indian Immersion experience has been unbelievably insightful and has provided an opportunity to see a variety of cultures, races and walks of life. Through visiting Santali children I personally found that happiness does not come from materialistic possessions, but through the joy in found friends and family”.
I was personally humbled by the commitment, camaraderie and goodwill that I experienced from the fellow teachers and students on this year’s Immersion. Their reflections revealed their remarkable journey:
“The Indian Immersion experience has been a journey of many different challenges, changes and joys. It has opened me to explore many different aspects about the person I want to be. It has challenged me to always look for the light when all I can see is darkness, and to understand, respect and love each person’s, lifestyle and culture for what they are”. Brayden Shawcross
“My Indian Immersion experience has been one of challenge and self realisation. This experience has tested me and I have had times where I wanted to be back at home. But experience has strengthened myself in terms of patients and awareness. I would not change this experience, it not a holiday, but to push yourself and make that self change which this Immersion has most definitely done”. Nicholas Bradley
Brother Alexander Arockiasamy is now preparing for a new mission in Bangladesh working with children who are exploited picking tea. It is with a sad farewell, but he has left a remarkable Marist legacy at the Chetana Tribal Boys Hostel and has been a catalyst for change and faith.
I would like to personally thank my Indian Immersion companions; Gabrielle, Anthony, Nicholas, Sam, Keegan, Harrison, Joshua, Brayden, Luka, Chris and Paddy.
Indian Immersion Leader
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