Our school recently held an International Night, to culminate a week of fun activities: classes did lots of art projects, such as making Multicultural Dolls and Diversity Quilts, every student made a flag of their heritage, they sang tons of songs from different genres around the world in music class, we shared bread from around the world on our International Bread Day, and held a colorful parade of traditional clothes through the hallways.
During International Night, I called for parents to coordinate “Country Tables” that were to be set up in the cafeteria during our spring Open House. I began months before, looking for volunteers to be the leaders of a particular country: we have large populations of families from China, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, and Indonesia, and I needed at least one person to be “in charge” of each team of volunteers. Continue reading
Posted in Africa, Around the World, Asia, Chile, China, Ethiopia, India, Jordan, Mexico, Palestine, Taiwan, The Americas, UAE, Zimbabwe
Tagged education, international week, multicultural
Elephants are the largest land animal and can live up to 60 years. There are 2 basic species of elephants: the African elephant (whose ears are larger, look like the continent of Africa!) and Asian elephants (whose ears are smaller, and look like the shape of India!). Asian elephants are an endangered species, with only 25,000 wild elephants living in: Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and southern China.
We saw this lovely elephant at the St. Louis Zoo (Missouri, US).
Elephants have been highly regarded to Asian culture for thousands of years; here, elephants have been domesticated and are used for religious festivals, transportation and to move heavy objects. Other fun facts:
- they are vegetarians, and eat 400 pounds of green leaves, bark, branches, fruit and grass daily- they weigh over 10,000 pounds!
- they have 6 sets of teeth that wear down and are replaced
- the tusks are actually incisor teeth that elephants use to dig in the ground for roots and break apart tree bark. In Asian elephants, only the male has tusks
- the elephant’s nose has 40,000 muscles and can pick up tiny objects
Here are some wonderful books whose main characters are Asian Elephants! Continue reading
Posted in Animals, Asia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Literature, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
Holi celebration at the College of Engineering in Adoor. Photo credit: Sandeep Pranavam, public domain.
Holi होली is a religious festival celebrated especially in Northern India by Hindus in the spring to mark the arrival of spring and new life and the end of gloomy winter. Farmers begin to plant their crops, the flowers begin to bloom, and people celebrate the new season of hope (for a good harvest) and happiness. There are also various religious legends associated with the holiday. Read here for The Legend of Prahalad and Holika. Typical food that is eaten is gujiya (a sweet puff), mathri (salty crackers) and papri (fried dough wafers).
But what truly makes this holiday unique and special is Continue reading
Mangoes have been growing in India for over 5000 years, and in fact the name in Hindi is aam, which means “common.” The fruit and leaves are used in Hindu rituals, and also play a role in Buddhist folklore, where the fruit is considered sacred. In fact, one of Buddha’s followers gave him a mango orchard, so that he could rest and meditate in the shade of the mango trees.
In the US, we gets most of our mangoes from Mexico, Haiti, Peru, and Brazil, while the EU imports from India, South Africa, Pakistan, and Thailand. When you find the countries on the map, notice their distance from the equator. What conditions do mango tree need to thrive? Can they grow where you live?
Mangoes are one of our favorite fruits: they are as sweet as candy, packed with antioxidants, and high in vitamin C and A. Their soft and juicy texture allowed them to be one of my babies’ first solid foods that I didn’t have to mash, and my kids have enjoyed this high-fiber, low-calorie fruit ever since. Recently I was buying a box of ripe mangoes in the supermarket, and someone asked me how I would serve them. Here’s how my kids love to eat mangoes.
The flag of India, like all flags, is a source of national pride, symbol of cultural identity, and representation of values held by a group of people that- as diverse as they are- indeed are unified under the flag.
Recently, I was looking for ideas to create the flag of India for our upcoming International Week at school. I stumbled upon a wonderful blog called Putti Prapancha, with an idea to make the flag of India out of pulses: lentils, split peas, and we used rice for the white stripe. Here is our version:
The deep saffron orange strip represents courage and sacrifice, the middle white stripe represents truth and purity, and the bottom green stripe symbolizes peace and prosperity. The blue circle in the middle Continue reading
Everyone can appreciate good storytelling, and parents and teachers who would like to educate their kids about another country or culture are wise to begin with a stack of books. When choosing children’s literature to increase global awareness, I think it is important that the books are visually appealing, culturally accurate and without stereotypes, and are age-appropriate, engaging stories that subtly inform and showcase new traditions and people.
With my kids, I choose one country per month to “study.” Recently we chose the magnificent country of India. We made food from that country, studied the map, learned the flag, watched video clips, and read a lot of fiction and non-fiction books. Out of the lot, here are our favorite stories we found in our library, with my reviews, and the reviews of my kids. Continue reading
Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.- The Dalai Lama
With so much violence in the world today, it is our duty as parents and teachers to teach our children about compassion, showing them kindness and respect, and giving them examples and role models to follow. Studying great leaders who embody peace helps kids to make better decisions and learn from others wisdom as well as from their mistakes.
The Buddhist religion was founded in India over 2500 years ago, and is currently practiced by over 500 million people all over the world. The countries with the largest number of Buddhists are: China (especially Tibet), Thailand, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Viet Nam, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Laos, and Nepal among others. Every country has different ways to worship, but the universal goal of Buddhism is to achieve a state of enlightenment- freedom from suffering- through acts of compassion on all living things.
The Dalai Lama: Peacemaker from Tibet, a biography by Chris Gibb.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, though Buddhist around the world follow his teachings of non-violence and kindness.
Dalai is translated from Mongolian as “ocean” and lama in Tibetan Buddhism is “perfect teacher.” In fact lama refers to a religious master, specifically a Tibetan or Mongolian Buddhist monk. Continue reading
Posted in Around the World, Asia, China, India, Japan, Literature, Malaysia, Nepal, People, Thailand, Tibet
Tagged biography, buddhism, education, famous person, multicultural
Diwali is a 5 day festival of lights celebrated in India and other countries with Hindu populations. The name Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps,” because during the festivities people light up their homes with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas or diwas. It is easy to make your own diyas with clay and some decorations.
Photo credit: Becky Morales
Rangoli is a decorative folk art from India that is created on the ground in front of entrances to homes, inside the homes, or in courtyards during celebrations to bring good luck and welcome Hindu gods and goddesses. The art is both a religious and cultural symbol, and is found in all homes regardless of income. The details in rangoli decorations can include lotus flowers, mango leaves, geometric shapes, or other elaborate designs made of rice flour, colored sand, or even flower petals. First, let’s see how people in India make rangoli, then we’ll look at some examples from around the world, and finally the kids can make their own rangoli decorations. Continue reading
The other day I was asking my friend, who is originally from India, about typical games kids would play. I thought it would be fun to learn a simple game from another country, that doesn’t require special equipment. She mentioned a game called “kabaddi,” which is like tag with a twist. I was wondering if I would be able to find any rules or information on-line and imagine my surprise when I found the International Kabaddi Federation. Not only did I find out that they host the Kabaddi World Cup, but it is going on right now, and you can stream the World Cup games for free here until November 20, 2011!
So what is kabaddi, and why is it so popular?
If you live where there is a large Indian population, or you have Indian friends, you might have heard of the largest of all Indian celebrations called “Diwali” (pronounced di-VAL-ee). Diwali is a 5 day fall festival beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of Kartika (Ashwin). By the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls in October or November. In 2011 Diwali begins on Wednesday, October 26th and in 2012 it will be November 13th.
Let’s learn about the Hindu celebration of Diwali!