Yesterday was India’s Independence Day, a yearly celebration of India’s establishment as a country independent from the United Kingdom’s colonial rule. Although the event occurred in 1947, India is still a young country considering how old some countries on this planet are. While us interns have typically been at the front of the classroom, leading lessons and posing questions, Independence Day was the students’ time to teach with us in seats, paying attention. We had been hearing about the huge program and the routines the students had been practicing for weeks, but yesterday was the day everything came together and, I have to say, the emotional investment and excitement of the students really shined on stage.
Watching some of my students sing, dance, and act in the final play was so inspiring and relates to my last blog post about how, if we incorporate art and movement into lessons, the students are more emotionally invested. As well as just getting to relax and see some great performances, the history of the performances (explained to us after the show due to the language barrier) showed how leadership roles can transfer when exchanging cultural staples. When I’m at the front of the room teaching the kids “Country Roads” by John Denver to relate the mountains of Dehradun to the ones in West Virginia, the students are listening. Now was my time to listen and take what I can from the dance featuring god and goddess figures, historical portraits, and Hindi song lyrics. This is the cultural exchange in motion.
Despite some adults feeling as though this celebration of the work the students have put in was a good time to hog the mic and make the event about themselves and politics, the messages the students were conveying still hit their target. If I had to spotlight one routine, four of the older students in my class performed a dance highlighting the common misconception that femininity is confined to one box, one set of characteristics. The four girls were dressed in various outfits, one dancing in cleats with a soccer ball, one in a dancer’s uniform, one in typical Indian celebratory dress, and one in common wear. You didn’t need to speak Hindi to get the message and, in a community which our bosses at Ankuri have said is a very patriarchal, I believe the conversation is crucial.
I’m so glad we got to attend the ceremony. I’ve attached a few pictures from the show. Enjoy!