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DAY 1:WELCOME & PUJA | St Joan of Arc - Udayan


11 February 2019

Due to our connecting flight from Mumbai to Kolkata being cancelled, our group was split in two, one being headed by Liam and the other by Miss St Ledger and Chris. The news had to be broken to Rowan that she has on the second flight and the whole group was dreaded her reaction. The first group had a wait of 12 hours in comparison to the second who waited for 18. But the up-side was our endless supply of KFC and Burger King which we devoured.

When eventually in Kolkata, our journey from the airport was one of chaotic excitement and we were shown the ropes on how to get from A to B with several near-death experiences – the driving was pretty… well… Indian! On arrival, the first group had the privilege of experiencing Puja celebrations – a festival celebrating the goddess of education, Saraswati. Their dancing put us all to shame and we were taught how to properly party.

After a similar journey from the airport but in the dark, the second group arrived in the night and both halves of the team were reunited at breakfast. After a special Puja breakfast, we were treated to a celebratory welcoming with marigold garlands of rich orange colours and a traditional Indian tea.

We were given a tour of the complex by director Dipak and the assistant directors who explained to us how Udayan runs and why its work is so vital. We spent the rest of the day hanging out with the children and recovering from the chaotic day of travel. This included playing sports and games. A variety of sports were played where we took in football, volleyball and karate, and realised we really need to take our PE lessons more seriously. The girls gave us Indian inspired hair braids that looked especially good on Maddie!

A real highlight was the procession to conclude the Puja celebrations which included the immersion of the idol of goddess Saraswati. It was so loud that even Elizabeth awoke from her ‘power nap’. The procession included singing, shouting, incense, drumming and a parade following the statue balancing on the back of a trailered bike!

The children went to study from 6-8pm and tried to silently work until Rowan decided the art of dancing was surely a priority. Immediately after the teacher left the room she took full advantage and lead a dance battle that we all took part in. Next was dinner followed by further study as we write this update.

Tomorrow we will be doing a day-in-the-life of a child at Udayan which means an early start so it’s time for bed – Maddie has already retired.

Thanks for following, see you tomorrow.
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N Briggs

@ 1029 days ago

Pleased to hear you’ve all arrived safely – if a little late!

Look forward to hearing more about your trip over the coming days! Hope the girls aren’t missing school too much… Elia’s got some A Level PE catching up to do after missing today’s riveting lesson on strength training! I know where I would’ve rather been…

Enjoy what is undoubtedly going to be a life changing experience.

Caroline Weldon

@ 1029 days ago

Congratulations on not letting your travel disruption deaden your spirits – you are clearly having a brilliant time there already and getting immersed in Udayan’s culture. Enjoy being with the children!! They are what it is all about. Namaste.

Tracey McDonnell

@ 1028 days ago

Well done on making it through the travel disruption! Looks like the wonderful welcome was more than worth it. Fantastic video – it’s truly moving to see the delight in the faces of the staff and students of both Udayan and JOA. Can’t wait to watch more of your experiences. Enjoy your adventure……xxx PS: Obligatory embarrassing hugs to Sophia! xxx

Adrienne Brown

@ 1028 days ago

Good for you on getting through the journey so well. What a beautiful video! It’s wonderful to see all of you and the children having such a joyous time. What a brilliant experience. Sending lots of love to Sophia and all xx

Year 4 at St John's

@ 1028 days ago


We have spent part of our afternoon reading about the start of your trip. Some children who would like to go to St Joan of Arc are already excited about possibly going on the Udayan trip – thanks Liam for inspiring us during your talk on Friday.

We have a few questions we would love to ask you if that is okay, but we know you are really busy!

Was it stressful when your flight was cancelled?

How is Udayan? Were you excited when you arrived? Miss Ashton remembers arriving at Udayan in 2013 and being overwhelmed by the beautiful welcome they received.

What type of food have you been eating?

We hope you are having a fantastic time and we can’t wait to read more about your trip.

Miss Ashton and Year 4

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