Mahi Dheri of Class XII was selected to represent India for The Camp Rising Sun. This camp is organised by the Louis August Jonas Foundation (a non- profit organization) which is an international, full scholarship, leadership program for students aged 14-16, coming from all over the world to live and learn together, building a shared & inclusive community.

Here are the experiences that Mahi shared about her month long stay at The Camp Rising Sun –

This year, I was lucky to get the opportunity to attend the camp and to represent my country’s rich culture and traditions. Being the only camper from my country, I felt a huge sense of responsibility on my shoulder. It was a daunting task to gather the maximum information about my country, its history, culture, traditions, people, clothes and languages and to present it at the camp in the best possible manner.

This was my first time traveling all alone and that too, for a 19 hour flight journey, managing each and everything on my own. I was well received by the Camp organising team and they took me to my host family where I stayed for two days before the camp started.

The past 4 weeks of the camp have been surreal to me. The cultural diversity was visible on the first day of the camp. I felt that each one of us are so different in the way we dress up, the languages we speak, our culture, history, traditions and lifestyle, there was diversity in every regards aspect. But gradually while living with them and knowing them better, I realized that we're still so similar in many aspects, we all love to dance anytime when the music is played, we all laughed at the same jokes and we even shared the same taste in music. Besides this, what we all had in common was this feeling of sharing, caring and humanity towards each other. Living in a relatively isolated place, close to nature, and without having any means of connection from the outside world for a month, really helped me to forge a greater connection with the campers, with nature, and with myself. From sleeping in tents, hand washing dishes, chopping wood, painting shelves, building our fire, learning about different cultures, having discussions about global issues, giving and following instructions, building a wooden bridge in a team, making new friends, organising and enjoying pool parties, movie nights, bonfire and hiking trips, I cherished and enjoyed each and every moment spent in the camp and tried to learn something out of it each day. Being away from the everyday chaos, maintaining a simple life style close to nature and without any electronic gadgets and family support system helped me to understand my inner strengths and made me strong enough to overcome my weaknesses. I got to learn the practical lessons of life not through theoretical learning, but from daily experience at the camp.

I got a chance to perform ‘kathak’ in the first variety show, which is an Indian classical dance. I saw everyone cheering for me throughout my performance. I felt so happy and couldn't resist myself from smiling even after the performance got over. This is the power of this community. Everyone is so supportive and accepting, that you can just go and stand on the stage, and they will still cheer for you and support you. This kind of support helps one to uncover his/her true self.