First Indo-Pak Classroom Connect: Classroom of Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai) and Government Girls’ Senior Secondary (Karachi) connected
Mumbai and Karachi: Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative, are striving to counter stereotypes and misconceptions through their initiatives as they believe that it is the lack of communication as well as miscommunication that has sustained the conflict. To meet their objective, they have been organizing interactive sessions in schools and colleges called aman chaupal, seminars and discussions, public demonstrations, launch an annual Indo-Pak peace calendar among other efforts.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti has also been using ICT for peace-building. They have used ICT to conduct aman chaupal sessions but this time, they connected classrooms across the border.
In the first “Indo-Pak Classroom Connect”, they connected the grade 7 classroom of Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai) and Government Girls’ Secondary School (Gizri, Karachi) through video conference to facilitate interaction between students.
The interaction took place on 2nd December. The students interacted with each other over different issues. The students talked about culture, cuisine and Bollywood. Some of the questions were “How is Karachi?”, “How are people in Karachi?”, “What is your favorite food” a question by a Karachi student which had students to share about the diverse cuisines in India and Pakistan and had them to explore similarities and bond over pani puri.
The students also discussed their history textbooks and tried to know the reason for partition. Students of both India and Pakistan shared what they have studied. A student in Karachi referred to her book and said that she read that the muslims thought that after the British would go, Hindus who are in majority will rule over them and so they thought it will be better if they live separately. She added that what has happened has happened but we should now live in peace and not fight.
Another student from Karachi added that if we will live in peace, soldiers on both sides will also not get martyred. We need to stop their killing and to do so, we need to resolve our problems.
The students also discussed about the recent controversy around indo-pak cricket series. Students on both sides agreed that political situation should not affect cricket.
The session ended with students exchanging their hope for an everlasting peace and commitment that they will play a role to realise it. The students and the teachers considered this interaction to be quite helpful.
“This is the first time I interacted with children of Pakistan. If I hadn’t known already they are from Pakistan, I wouldn’t have made out the difference. Discussion about our language, shared love for kebab and biryani, bollywood & cricket got us to connect. We were no longer the “other.” It felt like our special connection with Pakistan. Our understanding of partition and history were varied which led us to introspect about what we learn in our history textbooks. Friendship between Indian and Pakistani children is the only way forward”, said Tulika Bhatija, 7th grade teacher at Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai)
“Knowledge on both sides is quite limited when it comes to knowing each other so this was a great opportunity for the students to learn that people across the border are just like us. This session was not just informative but had the students to engage, discuss with each other on some more critical issues like that of the recent cricket controversy and even about the history textbooks. The students really enjoyed this interaction with their peers in India. Some of them even said that I wish we could go inside the laptop and reach India,” said Suraiya Islam, Teacher at Government Girls’ Secondary School (Karachi)
The Mumbai school had their students to reflect on the session. Merrill from grade 7 wrote,
“I really want India and Pakistan to have peace among both the countries people. I feel this is the best way to do that. After the skype converstaion we just had, I understood so much about them. They are really sweet, even though they couldn’t speak English that well, I appreciate them for trying. I really felt glad that we were interacting and getting along so well. I have to admit there were so humorous moments too.”
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is happy about the success of the first Indo-Pak Classroom Connect and plans to continue this initiative and connect more schools of India and Pakistan in the coming months.