Tuesday, March 28

Mount Hermon School alumni look back at life

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From Arcadia to Queen’s Hill School to Mount Hermon School, this Darjeeling institution has weathered various trials and tribulation and soaked in sunny days during its journey of 125 years.

The school will start its 125th anniversary celebrations from Wednesday. The motto of the school in Latin is: Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus which in English means: not for school but for life we learn. The Telegraph reached out to some alumni members on the life lesson they imbibed from the school given the prevailing discourse in public life in India.

Sunirmal Chakravarthi (1968-72), ex-principal of La Martiniere for Boys, Calcutta

It was not about grades but we were taught to understand and contribute towards community. We were taught to be tolerant. A New Zealander would teach us the Indian Constitution. An Australian taught us Bengali. We were taught to be secular, liberal, tolerant and open-minded and we were never discouraged from asking questions.

All this contributed to Mount Hermon being a happy school.

(Mount Hermon is one of the few schools in the Darjeeling hills that declare sunshine holiday when the sun comes out after days of rains)

Shiv Kumar Saria, 1961-72, tea garden owner, Darjeeling

The most important lesson I learnt was to be honest and accept everybody as they are. In business community, one is not given due respect if he is not financially strong. In Mount Hermon we learnt the importance of equality.

Discipline, punctuality and respect. We used to go to the church. I am a vegetarian but we used to share the same table with non-vegetarians. Untouchability was unheard of at Mount Hermon.

Ashok Pokharel, 1977-87, proprietor, Shangri La Tours, Kathmandu

I learnt a lot about independence. Being away from home, we had to do everything, I still do my laundry.

Essentially, I was a Hindu at a Christian school and I learnt to be tolerant. I was taught to respect others and their beliefs as we shared the same room with friends from other faiths. This has helped me a lot in life and in my profession.

Karl Hagen, 1960-72, professor, Georgia, US

I received a solid foundation on the subjects we studied. We were taught to have an honest approach to life and do to the best of our ability. It was a Christian school.

So, we did not study much of other religions but your classmates came from different backgrounds and values and one tried to fit in that. I have an open-minded approach to others unless they are too dogmatic about their approach to religion.

Kenneth Hagen, 1959-71, Medical Technologist, US

One was taught to appreciate different people and culture and make the most of out it and that was very enriching.

(Kenneth and Karl are siblings whose parents were missionaries in Darjeeling then.)

The celebration

Miss E.L. Knowles established Arcadia near Chowrasta after Dr J.M. Thoburn offered Rs 2,000. The school opened on February 15, 1895, with 15 boarders. In 1896, the school was shifted near the railway station after Arcadia was damaged in a landslide and was called Queen’s Hill School. The school was relocated to the present site at Singamari on March 11, 1926, and later in 1933, it was named as Mount Hermon School.

Hermonites who have travelled from across the world will attend the “school birthday cake cutting ceremony”, followed by a chapel service at 8.30am on Wednesday. Old boys and girls will spend the day at the school followed by dinner at Hotel Sanderling in Darjeeling. The yearlong event will culminate with a grand celebration in December later this year.


Source: The Telegraph

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