Children travel the world without leaving the building at Meadowbrook School Hillsdale, NJ

Teaching children to appreciate differences in cultures is a key to overcoming racial intolerance, and a recent event held at Meadowbrook School Hillsdale, NJ, went pretty far toward that end.

Meadowbrook took the idea of standard lessons on cultures and ran with it. The school held its first Multi-Cultural Festival on Feb 1st 2007 and the second on April 1st 2008, in which kids could hop to Germany, skip to India and jump to Japan in the course of a day.

During the Multi-Cultural festival, each class traveled to at least seven different countries, gaining stamps to their faux passports along the way. Three of these” countrified” classrooms contained parent presentations one of which was India, the show stopper of the whole festival.

The trip to India was the greatest hit. I volunteered to represent the country India along with three other Indian friends from Hillsdale. Overnight the Art room transformed from an ordinary classroom to an exotic Indian Mela, with bright gaudy colors. We had sections like Arts and Crafts , Spices and Food, Music(Tabla, Sitar, Payal, etc.), Religious books along with books in different scripts, Currency of India, Yoga, Body Art (Henna, Bindis, etc.), Costumes with different textures and embroideries, (mainly Saris), Jewelry, A place of worship, (temple), etc.

To welcome all the “Atithis” (guests), we placed Torans on the doors displayed a beautiful Rangoli at the entrance with Diyas, etc. Of course the main highlight was the Flag of India.

The students on arrival were greeted with a Namaste, and educated with a slide show which comprised of what India really was. The students made a rakhi, which was then taken as a souvenir. The female students were mesmerized with the clothes, jewelry and the body art. Thus the students traveled India without spending a fortune on “Palace on Wheels” and left breaking the myth that India was only a “Land of Snake Charmers”.

Dr.Cozine (the principal of Meadowbrook School) who was attired in a beautiful Indian Shalwar Kameez, dramatic dangling earrings and a Bindi (which I had lent her) credited the enthusiasm and hard work of the teachers, students and parent volunteers for the success of the program.

As a token of appreciation of our hard work an article was published in two local newspapers, “Pascack Valley Community Life” and “Pascack Press” along with our pictures. These can be viewed, here.

This made my daughter Chandni K. Shah very proud of her origin and heritage as we reside in a predominantly American neighborhood.

Jai Jinendra,
Rashmi K. Shah,
Secretary at HVO Samaj – USA.

(link to newspaper article: If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium)