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ISW: Give The Gift Of Bilingualism!!

Shiamin Melville

Give the gift of bilingualism!!

How often we as parents have had to cajole and negotiate getting our children to activities they have signed up for, and we wonder, is this worth it?  It is especially harder on the weekends.   However, whether it is soccer or math classes, we persevere and get everyone out of the door, doing homework in the car or tying up cleats.  As immigrant parents, we have this added desire or guilt to instill an exposure to our native ‘mother tongue’ and desi culture.  And after all, a language is what binds a culture. One’s mother tongue is the most powerful tool that can help us convey culture. Studies have shown that being bilingual contributes to learning another language and helps with stronger literacy skills in the languages at school.  Being bilingual is also becoming more and more a door to a variety of business and cultural opportunities in this global world.  As Nelson Mandela, said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart,”

Luckily for many in Massachusetts there are many options for studying Indian Languages, and in the Metro West/Worcester area, the India Society of Worcester has been running Indian Language classes since 1992. The ISW Language and Cultural School is run entirely by volunteers, started with a modest enrollment of 2, and now flourishes with over 160 students and a curriculum in 5 different languages:  Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. Each language class consists of one hour of language instruction, half an hour of yoga, and half an hour of cultural assembly.  The cultural assemblies touch on subjects such as Indian art, history, religion, music and dance.  The school also celebrates Indian as well as local holidays to demonstrate respect for cultural differences.  Activities are incorporated into our school program to benefit local charities. For example food, books and gifts are collected and donated to food pantries and needy families identified by the ISW’s Crisis Committee. Students who complete our curriculum have an opportunity to become student teachers, when slots open up and our younger students are energized by their enthusiasm. Another opportunity for our older kids is to take active part in volunteer work with the IYG, which is the ISW’s Youth Group that undertakes many volunteer projects such as their annual fund raiser Showcase India; taking part in Walk For Hunger and working with the Humrahi group, comprising of Indian senior citizens that meet monthly at the India Center.

We strongly encourage supporting your heritage language.  By enrolling in a language school you can pass on the best of both worlds to your children: a language to speak at home in addition to the language in school. By enrolling in the school and or becoming a member, you will be part of a vibrant Indian community.  With the India Center, ISW is one of the few Indian Organization in Massachusetts that has its own facilities to conduct classes and events. The center is open to all regardless of religious and regional differences.

ISW classes begin on the weekend of September, 24/25.  An Open House for registration and information will be held on Sunday, September 18 Sunday at 10 am. Online Registration & payment is available at www.iswonline.org. Click on Activities>School>Registration.  The link for registration is on left hand side.  Feel free to call Shiamin Melville 508-353-4316 or send email to ShiaminM @gmail.com if you have any questions.

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