“They do not resemble the stereotypes we were taught”: 11th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect

indopak classroom connect by aaghaz e dosti

When Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 11th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect, brought together students of National School and College of Modern Sciences (Mandi Faizabad, Nankana Sahib in Punjab, the birth place of Guru Nanak) and Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai, we found ourselves struggling with the same old questions.

With deep fissures of distrust between two neighbors in conflict, it only takes discussions around bollywood, TV shows, food, visa issues, festivals, cricket, Urdu-Hindi, and social media (for people on both sides of the border) to move through the connecting back process. These discussions not only help heal divides, give the people common grounds, but also serve as platforms enabling “people” to come back together as friends, when “governments” are uncertain and unwilling. This all too much of discussion required of us skype connection on both sides.

The session was organized and coordinated by Raza Khan, Lahore Chapter Head of Aaghaz-e-Dosti on April 4, 2017 who travelled from Lahore to Nankana Sahib struggling with limited ground resources. Aroon Arthur and Farooq Ishraq facilitated in putting the event together. The other side was being facilitated by Tulika Bathija, educator and teacher at Ecole Mondiale World School, Mumbai.

17858117_1413304648692025_1229879787_nThe students from India sang ‘Channa Mereya’ from the Bollywood movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Pakistani children discussed about all kinds of Indian TV shows and films that they have watched: Salman and Tiger Shroff being their hot favourites. Fawad Khan, the Indian students said, was their heartthrob. They both agreed that ban on cross border cinema is absolutely ridiculous and they cannot imagine living in a world where they cannot see each other’s films and TV shows. Were our governments listening?

It is very hard not to be overwhelmed by conversations like this that foster dialog and try to bring people together. When Indian children asked what you like about India, interestingly Pakistanis named all Hindu festivals (Holi, Diwali, Raksha Bandhan) that they love to celebrate as well — Holi being their absolute favorite.

There were also discussions on food, biryani, streets, and least expected — pets and animals! When Pakistani kids shared that they had goats and rabbits for pets, there was a wild cooing and mooing on the Indian side. The Indian students might apply for a VISA to Pakistan for the sole purpose of pet-patting. What do you like about Pakistan? “We like Pakistani rabbits!”, they said.                                                                                                                                   

While Indian kids stumbled and fumbled with Urdu, they were sporting and confident. Pakistani kids responded kindly. The students from Pakistan shared that the Muhammad Iqbal, author of ‘Saare Jahan se Accha Hindustan Hamara’ is the national poet of Pakistan, also known as poet of the east.

As the session was winding down, the students expressed they would love to reconnect and asked Raza Khan when he would be back. One of them said, “Raza Sir, none of them resembled the stereotypes I were taught”.

It was a two-way learning process for the students as well as the mentors of the session. Raza said, “For the students, it was an emotional end of a Skype conversation. I have asked the students to put into words, what impact the connection had on their day. For I know, their response had a greater impact on mine.”

Report by: Tulika Bathija and Aliya Harir

Advertisements

About aaghazedosti

Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative

Posted on April 11, 2017, in Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: