Thursday, May 10, 2012

1st Annual Multicultural Celebration Day at the Kawartha Heights School in Peterborough

Students receiving henna designs.
The Kawartha Heights School has a lot of students whose cultural roots lie in other countries. So they decided to heighten student appreciation of other cultures and their riches by celebrating a Multicultural Day. The event featured Native Canadians and at least 30 countries from around the world. The kids carried national flags and put on a lovely show of dress outfits worn by people in different places, as well as multicultural music and story telling. There was even some henna hand painting for those who wanted to try it. The kids had a ball and everyone was very upbeat about the event.

Priya Govindarajan narrates the Ponnivala story for students.
Our role came in the story telling. Priyadharshini Govindarajan comes from a local family with roots in South India. She worked with us for about two years as an animation artist that helped us to develop our 26 episode animation series. Priya is also a mother of two young boys who attend the Kawartha Heights School. She volunteered to read parts of the Ponnivala story to kids in one of the school rooms. Kids cycled in and out of the room to hear her every twenty minutes, so that most everyone had a chance to hear the stories at some point during the day.

Priya started each session by telling the story in Tamil for about ten minutes. The idea was to expose kids to the sound of a very different language and let them enjoy some of the rhythms and expressions used, before switching to English to explain more thoroughly what was happening. She told a different story for each session and each presentation was accompanied by the projection of pages from our graphic novel series onto a big screen in front of the kids. This way everyone could enjoy the graphics even if they did not understand all the words.

A KHS student enjoying one of our graphic novels.
The kids seemed delighted with the format and with the stories. Afterwards many kids picked up the comic books and started reading them on their own. Where the kids were of different ages and skill levels the older ones--the better readers--read to their “partners.” The best news of all came when the Principal of the school came into the room and told us that she wanted to order the entire set of 26 novels for her school library, as she could see how the kids were enjoying these booklets! Of course we will be happy to provide these. Kawartha Heights is to become the first elementary-middle school in Canada to adapt our materials!

This is a forward-looking school, emphasizing the need for peace between cultures and between nations. Their initiative is to be commended we hope others will follow suit. It was a well planned event and fun was had by all, even by the many friends and parents who also attended the celebration!

~ Dr. Brenda Beck

Dr. Beck giving her presentation to the Multicultural Celebration Day assembly at
Kawartha Heights School in Peterborough, ON.

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