“I am a Gurgaonean” – An Expedition by Grade 7 Students -

“I am a Gurgaonean” – An Expedition by Grade 7 Students

At Heritage International Xperiential School, community-centred expeditions are used to facilitate deeper learning and fostering a sense of oneness with and responsibility towards the community. Such expeditions allow students to see the relevance of the work done in school in the context of their own environment and brings concepts to life as students’ own experiences lead to reflection, dialogues and a deeper understanding.


A recent expedition that embodied this community connect and the interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum central to Heritage pedagogy was the “I am a Gurgaonean” expedition. The objective of this expedition was to nudge our Grade 7 students to acknowledge the diversity that surrounds them by exploring the backgrounds and lives of people in their own community.

The expedition was launched by inviting the journalists from PARI (People Archive for Rural India) to talk to students about their work and establish the context. Background knowledge was built and curiosity ignited through exhibitions in the school. The actual field work was started by conducting a human transect of an identified geographical area of Gurgaon. Students were trained and sensitised by expert journalists on how to conduct an interview and take portrait photographs. Students worked on the flow and content of the questionnaires and thentranslated them to the local language. They then conducted interviews independently to document the stories of the people who make up the diaspora of Gurgaon. They captured digital portraits of respondents and learnt how to create a photo journalistic magazine documenting the life-stories of the respondents. In the classroom, curriculum themes across disciplines like Science, Math, Languages and Global Perspectives were integrated into the expedition. How naturally the expedition extended itself to include various subject areas made it even more powerful.

The culmination product was an eBook created by students that built a mosaic of portraits that depicts Gurgaon’s transition and how it sits at the intersection of rural and urban and the local and global, by looking at the true diverse cross section of individual stories as “case studies”.

The students were in the driver’s seat throughout this expedition like in the other HIXS expeditions and the idea of setting them on a journalistic endeavour to capture stories of the lives of people of Gurgaon unleashed their creativity beyond we had even imagined. They led the research and the composition of their photographic portraits and stories. They designed their own website and book and planned the culmination. This creative independence generated enormous excitement, involvement and ownership of the expedition, by the students. They were guided by expert facilitators on the research methodology and also photographic skills that they used extensively during the expedition.

Students were deeply impacted and started taking note of and uncovering the layers and segments that form our community. They started asking larger questions like “How a new city is created from a village in 15 years and what is gained and lost in the process?”, “How are the patterns of migration, observed in Gurgaon, similar to or different from other metropolises around the world?” and “Is India one nation and one culture, or a collection of many?” They developed greater empathy and respect for those who they so often overlook which is evident in the portraits they developed. Each story also reinforced in them that challenges are intertwined with life and that having a growth mindset, that keeps them from giving up, is the only way ahead.

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