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Bonding over Gujarati, Food and Music: 7th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect

In Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 7th Indo-Pak Classroom Connect, two organisations – Pathshala NGO (Surat, Gujarat) and Street to School (Karachi) striving for quality education for underprivileged students connects and explores similarities in terms of culture, language and their mutual quest for a better education for a better future.

The 7th Indo-Pak Classroom connect session conducted on 18 February 2017 was co-ordinated by Devika Mittal and Madhulika Narasimhan from Aaghaz-e-Dosti India. The session was moderated by Adnan Kudiya from Street to School and Sagar Papneja from Pathshala NGO. The session connected students of Navnirman Vidyalaya (Surat, Gujarat) and Street to School Organisation.  The following report has been made from the inputs provided by the two organisations.

On the Indian side, reports Sagar Papneja, the session began by understanding what students from this side think about the neighbour country. He writes, “We were horrified when all of them used the word – Dushman (enemy). When asked about the source of the same they said, TV and movies. We asked them about the questions they would ask if they get to talk to the kids from the other side and we made a list which included – school life, culture, songs, cricket, and many other innocent questions. We shared with them a beautiful coincident. The moderator from here was I and my forefathers come from Layalpur which is now known as Faisalabad in Pakistan whereas coordinator from the other side – Adnan Kudiya his forefathers come from Gujarat, India.”

At 10:00 AM IST (9:30 AM PST), the schools were connected through video conferencing.

The session began with all the kids singing their national anthems. When AdnStreet to school indopak classroom connectan asked that who should start first, the Indian side replied that 14th August comes first and on this fun note, the session was initiated.

The students asked questions to their peers across the border related to their schooling experiences – the subjects they study, the amount of home work, the kind of punishments they get, the scope of bunking! They explored the mutual craze for the unofficial national sport of both countries – cricket and discussed their favourite players. They discussed about food, music and movies. From Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to Akshay kumar, the students were amazed to explore how similar they are. Both the sides sang songs like – ye dosti hum nahi chhodenge. The students were extremely enthusiastic to talk to each other and ask questions.

The teachers also got to interact with each other and realized that both the sides teach kids about Malala. The session ended with a promise to meet someday, share peace and work towards the betterment of our relations and society. One of the kids, on behalf of India, expressed the togetherness of nations in the time of grief as Sindh had bomb blasts a day before.

The language connect was also explored. While the classroom sessions are conducted in Hindi/Urdu, here the language explored was also gujarati. It was heartening to see the moderators converse in Gujarati with each other. Adnan thanked the Indian side in Gujarati, “Tamari Bohot Merhebani Che” which made the Indian side students beam with joy.

At the end of the session, when the Indian side asked the kids again what they think about Pakistan now. The answer was – dost (friend). They said that they never knew both the sides are so same. The food we eat, the way we celebrate, the subjects we study, the actors we love, the songs we sing, everything was same, said Sagar Papneja. He also shared the students asked to have more of these sessions in future.

Report made by Devika Mittal, based on inputs by Adnan Kudiya and Sagar Papneja.

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