Working in a foreign student-exchange organisation like EUMIND (2020-21) has definitely given all the five of us a brand new opportunity to learn about Graffiti & Vandalism, and how our country as well as another country, The Netherlands, deals with it. Despite having tons of fun and enjoyment, we also learned many things about Graffiti as a boon and as a bane, and how either country tries to deal with them individually.
Before comparing either country with the other, we first were gathering as much as information as possible for the topic in our own nation, India, by putting up google forms, conducting surveys and interviews, reading articles online, and whatnot! That’s when we got to know that Graffiti in India is looked forward to, and people love noticing and putting up Graffiti art on certain places which may beautify its surroundings as well, unless it vandalises public property or a monument. However, after meeting virtually with our counterparts in the Netherlands, we got to know that over there, Graffiti is looked down upon and is a criminal offense as well. One can be put behind bars and can lose the freedom to put up art on walls forever, unless he is a professional and has a license for the same. This might sound a bit downcasting, but on the contrary, it cures Vandalism and the result speaks for itself!
In both the countries, India as well as the Netherlands, Graffiti is highly appreciated by people till it spreads a positive message and/or beautifies a locality. Out of the surveys we conducted as a team, the most common answer which we got to know was that Graffiti is one of the best art forms to portray a message to the public, if other means of communication do not seem to be as effective. However, people sometimes use it as a wrong mode of communication and post objectionable and offensive “art” OR simply demean and demoralise public property and monuments, which creates a havoc within the society. Both nations have arrangements made for the same, but the ones in the Netherlands seem to be a bit more harsh and cruel than the ones in India.
Our counterparts and we; despite being miles apart from each other, somehow managed to use the same tactics of gathering information as we did, maybe due to the global pandemic, which also proves that it could not really stop our learning. They conducted certain interviews as well, asked their elders and their teachers, googled up certain topics just like us. They also put up a small graph after comparing everyone’s opinions and answers which helps in understanding the responses in a better manner. We exchanged words on social platforms such as Whatsapp, Google Meet and Google Drive. We met thrice this whole pandemic virtually, and everytime we did, they came up with interesting facts which definitely caught one’s attention.
This was overall how the two teams for Graffiti & Vandalism communicated with each other and exchanged thoughts and ideas. Despite being miles apart and having a whole global pandemic as a huge hurdle, we tackled all of our problems owing to the upgrade in technology. Our knowledge on Graffiti has expanded, if not completed fully. However, no matter what people say, Graffiti does enhance a place’s beauty, no matter how harsh a rule is imposed, be it in the Netherlands, India, or any other country in the world.
Doing a Student Exchange Program is really an unforgettable experience for me at Grade 11, both for the learning process and the interaction horizons that I have encountered. Initially, the interview and the selection process that was conducted on 26th September 2020 for The EUMIND Program helped me to gain a high confidence level and improve my interaction for personality development. As the months went by, constant interaction with my Peers within the School Team and the Netherlands Students strengthened my bonding and made me feel enthusiastic to carry on the Program in a positive manner. An interaction on a One to One Basis rather than via an Online Platform would have helped me to share my thoughts, reactions in a more motivating manner. Would have appreciated if I was given the opportunity to travel to Netherlands and study their academic and social environment. An Enlightening Opportunity was given to me when we shared and expressed ourselves on the Topic: ‘Vandalism and Graffiti’ via Google Meet and Zoom, amid the pandemic crisis. This Opportunity enabled me to take photographs of the Graffiti images in my area especially the one on the Mehboob Studio Wall. Through these images, it brought back memories of my participation in May 2018 for helping out in painting the graffiti image exercise. Interviews with Mr. Prakash Gohil, the Junior Officer of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the respondents have helped me to understand in a deeper manner the meaning and the messages conveyed through graffiti art. Interacting with my team members at various time periods have sharpened my insights and have enabled me to collaborate with my technical knowhow while editing Part 3 section of the report as well as sharing my ideas for the webpage and the colour combinations. Good Communication and Continuous Team Effort in this Wonderful Endeavour will always remind me in my future opportunities.
EUMIND has been a daily driver for me since the past few months now… Scheduling meets and interacting with our counterparts related to various studies has instilled a lot of exposure in me outside the retro school education system. It has helped me craft many skills which would for sure play a potential meaningful role in my future endeavours. Our topic of Vandalism has taught me so many new things such as the various laws & regulations in different countries, imposed in order to control the vandalism of public/private properties, the various types of vandalism and the reason behind proper vandalism. Working as a team and contributing towards a unique goal was indeed a fortunate experience which will be cherished for years to come. Even in place of a world pandemic we managed to work together as a team and managed to complete tasks on time with dedicated hard work. We successfully managed to cross many hurdles together as a team. Time Management would be the most valuable thing I would say to have taken home after this program because operating between and before exams has always been an interesting challenge in hand. Extreme pressure phases has also helped me develop a seamless mind-set. Mastering the various innumerate skills of content creation and web designing has been a learning curve for me. The program has allowed me to challenge myself into learning various real life values which could practically be implemented anywhere in the world .Right from the beginning of the interview round for the program EUMIND has kept me on toes ever since for which I am very greatful. In conclusion I would say that the program has indeed been a fun & captivating process where I could give in valuable team effort & contribution :)
In the course of interaction with our counterparts we were made aware of myriads of new facts , which enabled us to get a better understanding of the difference as well as overlap between the two cultures. The plethora of similarities between the two countries&; perception greatly accentuated how at times, geographical separation does not thwart cultural ideas to spread and integrate... Inspite of the extant pandemic, some of the things that indeed facilitated our communication included : -- regular messages and exchange of ideas by means of a whatsapp group -- video calls to track the progress of our work on the project by means of Google meets as well as the platform of Zoom. In my opinion, my favourite part of the project was being able to see the actual first hand pictures of graffiti in the Netherlands and comparing and contrasting them with those of India. The project went off very smoothly wherein there was hardly even a language barrier and we were able to converse freely with our counterparts. There was nothing in particular that went wrong throughout the project instead it was a great learning experience..
Being a part of the EUMIND program of 2020-2021 has been a very memorable experience for me (a 9 th grader). EUMIND has helped me in knowing quite a few things which were previously unknown to me. It has also improved my ability to work efficiently in a team and has certainly refined my communication skills. Although I could not visit the Netherlands physically due to the ongoing crisis of the pandemic, we still got a chance to interact with our Dutch students via video calls and WhatsApp messages. Even though our very first interaction (25/11/20) did not go as expected, we got used to it later on, and were able to share a lot of information regarding out topic. This not only helped us with our project, but also gave us a lot of insights about life in the Netherlands, from out Dutch counterparts. Before it was assigned to us as our project, I had negligible knowledge about graffiti and vandalism, but delving deeper into it for our project helped me in broadening my thoughts on the aforementioned topic. Interviewing school caretakers also helped mein knowing about what kind of vandalism could be seen in my school (of which I surprisingly was unaware). Lastly, I would like to thank my teachers, and my school for including me in the program, and also EUMIND for conducting it in these unprecedented times, even when it would have seemed impossible.
It has been an honour, personally, to have become the team leader for Graffiti & Vandalism, Eumind (2020-21). I love getting to know more about new cultures, traditions whenever possible and I truly felt that Eumind could help me with this hobby of mine.
Conducting interviews online via Google Meet and Whatsapp were no doubt a task, but just as fun. I personally did look forward to going to the Netherlands and going places over there, because physical learning and interaction just has a different impact altogether, but online platforms also felt the same upto some extent.
Talking to our counterparts was kind of ecstatic, but worth it. We shared a lot of information and talked about Graffiti quite a lot. It really did not feel like we were foreigners to each other, as if we already were acquaintances.
I personally did not know much about Graffiti or Vandalism, except that I saw it in almost every Rap Song Video in Bollywood. Maybe that is what caught my attention to this platform and the amount of knowledge it has given me about the topic is completely mesmerizing.
I thank my school and my teachers for providing me with this opportunity and also Eumind 20201-21 for conducting it in such difficult times.
Learning Beyond Borders
‘It is the lives we encounter that make life worth living.’
Guy de Maupassant
As part of the Student Exchange Program, it has been an unforgettable experience of connecting thrice with our peers on December 18th 2020, January 18th and January 24th 2021. A wonderful opportunity beamed when we shared and expressed our ideas on the Topic: ‘Vandalism and Graffiti’ via Google Meet and Zoom, amid the pandemic crisis. The aim of this exercise was to get a better understanding on the idea of vandalism as well as on graffiti and both sets of students have had an educative experience within each cultural identity of the world. Our peers stated that if anyone consistently commits crimes in the form of vandalism, they could face up to 2 years in prison. Dutch Law allows for fines that can be levied by the court in three separate ways.
Custodial Sentence: Individuals who commit minor offences of degrading statues and other forms of art may face temporary imprisonment ranging from one day to life imprisonment depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Fines: A fixed penalty rate is also imposed if an offence is committed in most serious cases.
Community Service: The courts may impose community service for minor offences such as unpaid work and can include removing graffiti or cleaning public areas.
Our peers reported that the documented cases of disclosing vandalism are much less due to stringent steps. Graffiti is permitted only with a license and is observed on the sides of the highway, metro station, smaller localities and some playgrounds. According to them, mostly random lines or letters are drawn. When graffiti artists without a license are caught, they are usually held for one night or a nominal fine is imposed. In order that we connected with our peers despite the time difference, a whatsapp group has been created wherein information is shared and exchanged through messages enclosed. With respect to preparations for the video conferencing, our peers took the initiative to create the link via whatsapp and then we connected through Google Meet and Zoom. The students were well disciplined, punctual and attentive to our conversation. From the video conferences that were held, our peers were taken aback with the graffiti images that we displayed. Through the Student Exchange Program, International Learning and Awareness have helped both sets of students to understand the idea of vandalism in a clearer manner. Indian Graffiti images are considered to be inspirational and have increased our interest in viewing the messages displayed. Certain graffiti images are not appropriate to society when they convey a negative image and lead to the cause for vandalism. Language and dialects among our peers have helped us to communicate effectively through online and social media modes. In the words of Auguste Rodin ‘Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.’