Mumbai/Karachi: To counter stereotypes and clear misconceptions through interaction and dailogue, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative, last Wednesday connected two schools - one in Mumbai and the other in Karachi through video conference.
Believing that it is the lack of communication and miscommunication that has sustained the conflict between the two neighboring countries, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, has been using Information Technology for peace-building. They have used ICT to conduct "Aman Chaupal" sessions but this time, they connected classrooms across the border.
In the first “Indo-Pak Classroom Connect”, they connected the grade 7 classroom of Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai) and Government Girls’ Secondary School (Gizri, Karachi) through video conference to facilitate interaction between students.The interaction took place on 2nd December and students interacted with each other over different issues. The students also discussed their history textbooks and tried to know the reason for partition.
Referring a book she had read, a student in Karachi said Muslims had the feeling that after the British would go, Hindus who are in majority will rule over them, and so they thought it will be better if they live separately.
"What has happened has happened. We should now live in peace and not fight", she said.
Another student from Karachi said to stop the killing of soldiers on both sides of the border, we need to resolve our problems.
“This is the first time, I interacted with children of Pakistan. If I hadn’t known already they are from Pakistan, I wouldn’t have made out the difference", Tulika Bhatija, 7th grade teacher at Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai), said.
"Discussion about our language, shared love for kebab and biryani, bollywood & cricket got us to connect. We were no longer the “other". It felt like our special connection with Pakistan", Tulika said.
"Our understanding of partition and history were varied which led us to introspect about what we learn in our history textbooks. Friendship between Indian and Pakistani children is the only way forward”, Tulika added.
The session ended with students exchanging their hope for an everlasting peace and commitment that they will play a role to realise it. The students and the teachers considered this interaction to be quite helpful.
[To read the full report and know more about Aaghaz-e-Dosti, click her.]