Monday, May 11, 2009

Heritage Day 2007

Originally Posted in the Common Threads Blog,
Centre Daily Times, May 18, 2009

Yesterday, I was busy with “Heritage Day” at my daughter’s elementary school.

Parents came in and shared music, books, dresses, toys, instruments and ways of living from around the world. I remember tables devoted to Switzerland, Italy, Israel, Ecuador, Serbia, Australia, Korea, Scotland and India; and to the heritage of dairy farming in Pennsylvania, and to world heritage through stamps.

The table that I had set up with another parent, focused on the cultural heritage of India.

We vary what we do each year – this year, we had a display of dolls representing the many dances of India, and another display devoted to the numerous languages of India.

Most people speak several of the 18 official languages with distinct scripts - Hindi and English serve as common languages. We gave out bookmarks, with the children’s names written in an Indian language. The bookmarks also had an Indian motif, made with blocks used for printing textiles.

At our table, we also had homemade crispy noodles called “sev” that the other parent had made, and a fennel candy. Kids who were familiar with the food from a previous year, headed straight for it. “I have had these before - could we have a refill – can we take two – oh, I love these - ” were exclamations we heard often, and which made all the work worth it.

As the kids walked away to other adventures – to trying the Swiss candy or the Korean drum - I reflected on the power of the memories we were engaged in creating - the possibility of interacting across cultures in a respectful manner, the power of enjoying the beauty in all our lives. And so I am thankful for all the parents and teachers who ignored their “to-do” lists that morning to create this beautiful world at Corl Street.

As a parent, I participate in creating this learning experience for the kids, but end up learning more – from a shared story or moment, with a child, teacher or another parent.

And every year, I get more than I give - old memories are recalled, new ones created, and I end up transformed by the power of creating and sharing these beautiful memories.

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