Educating for Peace: Experience of an Educator from India
On Literacy Day, Tulika Bathija, an English Teacher and ESL Specialist from Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai, India), reflects on her engagement with Peace Education.
Last year, grade 7 students of Ecole Mondiale World School sent solidarity cards to students of Ghauri Wisdom High School in Lahore. Children in Lahore were quite traumatised to see spaces they cherished being destroyed in a brutal manner. These spaces provide hope, enjoyment, and allow children to express their joy, playfulness and innocence. This attack took place on Easter, targeting the Christian minority community of Pakistan. Families from all faiths lost their loved ones. Despite experiencing loss of one of their own loved ones, these young children accepted our best wishes and solidarity with such warmth and openness.
Many days passed and we received cards in exchange, thanking us for sending them solidarity cards! Children yearning for peace, friendship, sent us messages of gratitude. These beautiful cards of gratitude speak volumes of young minds that reside in Pakistan.
Whenever someone asks me, “Why send cards to Pakistan?” I never have any logical explanation to satisfy their political curiosity or explain my love for the so-called enemy nation. In these children, I see the image of every Indian child I have taught and come across. It does not matter whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Sikhs; the plight and pain of every child suffering in Pakistan is our shared agony.
One day, I can only hope that whether my students remember me or not, they will hopefully not be swayed by media and political forces in making an enemy of a nation that is our friend, our neighbour. I wish they never forget that borders cannot divide their hearts. I hope they never forget so many friends they met and interacted with on the other side of the border.
Through this process, I met a wonderful person and friend, Raza Khan of Aaghaz-e-Dosti who facilitated the greeting card exchange between the two schools in India and Pakistan. It was such a delight talking about the responses of students from both sides. Creating opportunities for India-Pakistan friendship in classroom spaces has been such an enriching experience for all of us involved at Ecole. I look forward to many more interactions in the future.
Tulika Bathija is an educator from Mumbai. She is presently working as Assistant Service Coordinator, IB MYP Language and Literature teacher, ESL Specialist and Theory of Knowledge Teacher at Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai). She is in search of her Sindhi heritage and ardently participates in Indo-Pak peace initiatives. One day she hopes to write stories about Indo-Pak peace and communal harmony for children and young adults.