Including a Special International Conference on Understanding Children with Disabilities to Build Inclusive Communities

January 3 to 15, 2012

Day 1, Tues. Jan 3
Depart New York for Cochin, India

Day 2, Weds. Jan 4
Connection flight for Cochin, India

Day 3, Thurs. Jan 5 (B,L,D)
Arrive at Cochin’s International Airport. Transfer to Changanassery and check in. We will have dinner with Assumption College officials and enjoy a dance program at the hotel. Overnight at the Contour Back Waters.

Day 4, Fri.   Jan 6 (B,L,D)
After breakfast at the hotel, we have a morning of in-class instruction followed by a visit to Assumption College and special schools. Time permitting, we will visit an elephant training center. Dinner is at the hotel.

Day 5, Sat.  Jan 7 (B,L,D)
Kerala backwaters toursWe pick you up at the hotel and take you to Alleppey to board a houseboat and cruise through the backwaters. The Kerela backwaters is a network of over 1,000 miles of man made and natural canals, 38 rivers and 5 big lakes extending from one end of the state to the other. Before trucks became popular, the main cargo transportation was through backwaters by ‘Kettuvallams’ — or houseboats (riceboats) — country boats once used to transport goods from isolated interior villages to the towns before the advent of roads, bridges and ferry services. Now kettuvallams are back as a major tourist attraction. A cruise on one is a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauty of the backwaters.
After Lunch on board, the group will disembark and transfer to a coach for Periyar where we check in for dinner and an overnight stay.  Overnight at the Abad Green Forest Hotel.

Day 6, Sun.  Jan 8 (B,L,D)

After breakfast at the hotel, we travel by boat to visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a 500 square mile reserve on the western slopes of the Western Ghats, for game viewing by boat, navigating the waterways to sight elephants, bison, deer and possibly a tiger. All manner of flora and fauna flourish in this tropical habitat, making it one of the premiere reserves of Southern India.
Later we transfer to Changanasserry where we will check into the Contour Back Waters hotel for a light dinner.

Day 7, Mon. Jan 9 (B,L,D)
After a day of in-class instruction in special school, we will enjoy a cultural event and possibly visit local shopping centers.

Day 8, Tues. Jan 10 (B,L,D)
After a day of in-class instruction in special school, we may go for a walking tour to local paddy fields after dinner, followed by poster session preparation.

Day 9, Wed. Jan 11 (B,L,D)
Today calls for in-class meeting in the morning before attending the Conference, where lunch will be served. Dinner is at the hotel.

Day 10, Thurs. Jan 12 (B,L,D)
Today also calls for in-class meeting in the morning before attending the Conference, where lunch will be served. Dinner is at the hotel.

Day 11, Fri.  Jan 13 (B)
After breakfast we drive to Cochin and on arrival check into the Hotel Abad Plaza. The rest of the day is at leisure. Cochin is known as ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ due to its natural harbor being one of the finest. It is a city made of islands connected to Ernakulam on the mainland by bridges and ferries. This quaint town has seen historic visits from seafaring traders of the past from countries such as Portugal and China.

Day 12, Sat. Jan 14 (B,L,D)
After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a sightseeing tour of Cochin, starting with a visit to the Jewish Synagogue.  The oldest synagogue in India, built in 1568, it is an interesting place with hand painted willow pattern floor tiles brought from Canton in China in the mid-18th century. Its location is one of the centers of the spice trade in the region. We also visit the ancient Mattancherry (Dutch) Palace built by the Portuguese in 1557. It was presented to the ruler of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. The most important feature of the palace is the astonishing murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharta and Puranic legends connected with Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Kumara and Durga.
Another stop is the St. Francis Church, the oldest European built church in India, constructed in 1503 by the Portuguese Franciscan Friars. The famed Vasco de Gama, the first European to reach India by sailing around Africa, died in Cochin in 1524 and was buried here for 14 years, and his tombstone can be seen. We also visit the amazing Chinese fishing nets that work on principles of physics well-advanced for their times. It is believed  traders from the court of Kublai Khan introduced these nets. After dinner we will attend a performance by the very colorful Kathakali dancers.

Day 13, Sun. Jan 15
Very early transfer to the airport to fly back to New York. Same day arrival