From India to Kongsberg – crossing boundaries

Foto: KIS

The 17th of May parade in Kongsberg featured very special guests this year amongst the children in Bunads and school banners.

Text: Regan Oakley and Alison Mulholland. All photos: KIS

Les den norske versjonen her: Fra India til Kongsberg. 

20 students and two teachers from Jain International School, marched in colorful Indian traditional attire alongside their hosts from Kongsberg International School.

The visit was the second opportunity for JIS and KIS to meet, following an exchange in December in which Kongsberg students descended upon Nagpur, India.

Foto: KIS
Foto: KIS
Foto: KIS

In January, the article, The memories will last a lifetime, detailed some of the dazzling collection of experiences with local industry and culture that KIS students had with their Indian hosts.

Foto: KIS

In May, as KIS students became the hosts, it was an opportunity to show the best of Kongsberg.

As two schools that are forward thinking about competencies for the future, the partners in this exchange were aiming for an opportunity to compare industry and culture, as well as forging friendships across boundaries.


KIS aims to develop initiative and innovative thinking in its students. The importance of these skills showed in the range of company visits the Kongsberg team arranged for their visitors.


The students visited Kongsberg Automotive, Kongsberg Gruppen and  Viatech AS,  as examples of established Norwegian companies and explored their views on innovation for the future.

Similarly, a visit to the University of Southeast Norway provided a glimpse of the path from education to industry through systems engineering and design thinking.

Questions arose from both sides about the future and the development of innovation, socially conscious business practices, quality within systems and human ingenuity.

Nature and culture

Cultural comparisons arose through another aspect of Norwegian life, the pursuit of pleasure. Students were treated to an array of concerts, museum visits, design time at Makerspace, and the sacred tradition of a cabin trip.

Foto: KIS

The Indian students had little experience with hiking, mountain climbing and cooking in the open air.

A hike up Skrimtoppen and evenings around a campfire at Rajehytta, including the exotic experience of making pinnebrød, threw the visitors into a very different way of being.

The outdoor skills and experiences that are integral to Norwegian life were, as a programme for visitors, a special opportunity.

Swimming in the lake and sunning on the beach, debating what constitutes cold, brought students of vastly different experiences and backgrounds together. This would not have been possible without the help of the Kongsberg Red Cross, who provided much needed walking boots for the weekend trip.

Skrimtoppen. Foto: KIS

Foto: KIS

For the Indian teachers, the three standout things the group took away with them were the importance of inclusiveness, independence and outdoor life to Norwegians.

These thoughts were mirrored in their students:

Foto: KIS

– I learnt how to make my own food, to make my own bed and to clean utensils, which I didn’t know how to do before, said Saiee Taywade, 15.

None of this would have been possible without the help of the Rotary Club of Kongsberg, whose vision and enthusiasm helped with transportation and made many of the initial contacts required to set this programme in motion.

It is hoped that the vision of international collaboration and service to the community will allow many more collaborations in the future.

This exchange highlights the role that competencies play in a future where adaptability and practical experience working across boundaries are key skills. Young people can break down cultural boundaries, to open other’s eyes and make them more responsive to the world.

With repeated exposure to cultural differences it is hoped to build the capacity that students have to collaborate with people with different perspectives and provide a range of experiences solving different kinds of problems, drawing from unexpected sources and a wide range of available resources.

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