Sunday, February 05, 2006

 

Bringing India to America

Currently I have a short gig as a sixth grade teacher. Since these students have been learning about ancient India in their social studies class, the teacher asked me to speak to them about my experience in India. I was thrilled to have this opportunity because one of my passions is to educate Americans about other cultures. I thought this would be of particular interest to the children because while we were in India we worked with children in hopes that we could see India through their eyes. So I felt my presentation would be a way in which I could connect American children with the lives of Indian children.

There are two sixth grade classes and I was to make my presentation to both. I've taught these kids before and I've known both groups to be quite boisterous, so I didn't really know what their response would be, but I hoped for the best and thought the use of my website, http://www.jillianlongheier.com/india/artCampIndia.htm, and its pictures would hold their attention.

I was very pleased with the first group. They immediately showed enthusiasm when they learned that I had actually traveled to India. They asked thoughtful questions, enjoyed the photographs, and were emotionally affected by what they saw. We didn't have nearly enough time for them to thoroughly appreciate what I had to offer.

The second group acted like spoiled self centered Americans. They were completely disrespectful as they constantly interrupted me with silly questions and laughed through the entire presentation. When I told them of the poverty in India, they did not express any compassion for these people. Nor did they express gratefulness for their wealth. Rather they expressed disgust, the same sort of self righteous narrowminded views that have oppressed the lower castes all along. Their reaction was an utter disappointment.

Both groups are a good indication of what Americans are like in regards to other cultures. Some just don't care. Others are unaware, but willing to learn. Hopefully in time the first group will join the second.

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