The OSCAR Foundation, a non-profit organisation from Mumbai in India, visited Marlborough College for three days in early October 2023.
The Foundation provides opportunities for underprivileged children to excel academically while fostering personal development through sports. 16 children from the OSCAR Foundation visited Marlborough College and their visit was an incredible opportunity to witness their inspiring work and learn from their experiences.
When we met them at Heathrow Airport, it was clear that their journey from Mumbai had been filled with anticipation and excitement: the thrill of visiting a new country and experiencing new cultures had kept them awake on the ten-hour flight and their enthusiasm was infectious.
During their three-day stay at Marlborough, the OSCAR Foundation pupils showcased their creativity and ingenuity. In Design Technology, they designed and created innovative fidget spinners. It was inspiring to witness how their young minds approached the task with such enthusiasm and flair. Their visit also marked many first-time life experiences such as first overseas travel and first-time in an aeroplane. Swimming was an entirely new and exhilarating experience - and a first for many! We had a fantastic time at the pool, where they splashed through the first strokes towards learning to swim, followed by a game of water polo.
Football played a significant role during their stay with hours on the football pitch, practicing at Swindon Town FC’s impressive Foundation Park alongside coaches from Swindon. The OSCAR tourists joined forces with College teams to form mixed six-a-side football teams. Together, we experienced the universal language of sport, bringing young talents together across borders and cultures.
The pinnacle of their visit was a special Gala Dinner where we shared stories, laughter, and cultural insights. Several boys and girls from the OSCAR Foundation joined in our House Shout competition practices, singing along with College pupils and then giving an impressive performance themselves, rounded off by a dance party for all. The exotic flavours of their cuisine added a delightful twist to our meals. They would bring their spices and chilli sauces to complement our food, allowing us to savour some diverse tastes of Indian cuisine.
Addressing year group assemblies, the OSCAR Foundation visitors shared their origins and life stories, leaving a lasting impact on all College pupils who had the opportunity to interact with them. Their tales of resilience, determination and hope inspired us all and reminded us of the power of education and sport to break down barriers.
Their visit extended beyond the College campus too. Together, we explored the historic Avebury Stone Circle and climbed and admired the views from the Mound as a beautiful culmination of their visit. Throughout their stay, their smiles and happiness were infectious, making it a truly joyous occasion for all involved. It was an eye-opening encounter, demonstrating the impact of cultural exchange and learning on both sides. We learned so much about their lives and culture, as well as the importance of appreciating what we have and striving to make a difference in the world.
Their visit left a profound impact on our College community, igniting a desire in many of our pupils to explore and connect with their world. Several College pupils are now planning a gap year to visit the Foundation in Mumbai, inspired by the bonds formed during this visit. Their stay at Marlborough was a unique blend of learning, sharing and pure fun.
We were privileged to host the OSCAR Foundation and the exchange of knowledge, culture and friendships was a testament to the power of global connections.
Review by Archie S