From the Shores of Mumbai to the Mountains of Chitral: Let’s Exchange Peace on New Year
“As I entered the room, I waved the envelope in the air. They knew what it is, and the room comes alive with excitement. They could barely wait until I open the envelope and pass out the contents. Their New Year cards had arrived. Yes from India – from the country they had always known as enemy.”, said Zaibun Nisa Hussain, teacher at Lang Lands School & College, Chitral, Pakistan.
Students of grade 7 from Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai, India participated in a program called ‘Let’s Exchange Peace on New Year’ with students of grade 7th and 8th from Lang Lands School & College, Chitral, Pakistan. On Dec 31, the students at Lang Lands were seen devouring the cards, sent by ‘friends’ from an ‘enemy’ country, with intermittent shouts of, “Wow, my cards is so lovely. You know what is written in my card?” Initiated by Aaghaz-e-Dosti, the program aims at exchanging New Year cards between school students of India and Pakistan. It aims at breaking down class rooms walls between India and Pakistan for sharing greetings of peace, understanding, and love.
The school in Chitral is named in acknowledgement of educational services of Geoffery Douglas Lang Lands. He landed in India in 1944 as part of the British army. When powers were divided in 1947, Lang Lands moved to Pakistan and now has retired after a long teaching career including 24 years at the Lang Lands School. Zaibun Nisa teaches Mathematics and Physics to grade 6 – 12 at Lang Lands School & College but her goal is to further develop a sense of being global citizens in her students. “No matter which side of the border we are, we shares values of and desire for peace, love, blessings, and greeting” she said. She was also of the view that handmade card exchange greeting may be a thing of the past to many people, but for the learning and happiness they bring, she would want it to continue to be a part of her classroom’s future.
Ecole Mondiale had sent about 40 cards to Lang Lands exchanging New Year greeting and hope for love and peace. The students wished their peers in Pakistan on New Year and also shared their hope for peaceful and friendly relations. Arya, a student of Ecole Mondiale wrote in his card, “I wish you a very merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. There is so much love from India. I am very proud to call you my friends.” Similarly, Aditi had written “Dear Pakistan! Happy New Year, have an amazing 2016.“
ESL specialist, English & TOK teacher at Ecole Mondaile World School, Ms. Tulika Bhatija remarked, “Inclusion of peace initiatives in school related activities and curriculum by extension can go a long way in shattering stereotypes and paving a path to build cross border friendships. New Year greetings is a step towards fulfilling a dream where children no longer feel the burden to take forward the legacy of hatred.“
The students from Lang Lands replied back to their friends from Ecole Mondaile in end of January.
Devika Mittal and Aliya Harir, conveners of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, have expressed the hope that these exchange of cards help to bridge the gap of miscommunication and misconceptions and will fill young hearts with love, hope and commitment for peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.
Previously, Ecole Mondiale World School had exchanged greeting cards with Excellent Education Centre in Lahore on Independence Days, and Air Foundation School in Umerkot on Diwali. The exchange was also facilitated by Aaghaz-e-Dosti.