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The Anjana School Project: Part 2 – The Hokey Pokey: Global Barrier Breaker!

By Murali Bashyam

Part 2 of 7 – The Hokey Pokey:  Global Barrier Breaker!

Silence turned to laughter and dancing when Uma started the Hokey Pokey.

From the moment my wife and I stepped out of the car and met Channa for the first time, I knew we would witness something wonderful that day.  A positive vibe was in the air, and Channa welcomed us as graciously as a person could.  He was happy to see us, show us the school, introduce us to the children, and explain his vision for the school and its future.  He spoke passionately about a school where children would learn to make the best use of the limited resources they have, and of a school where children of different religions could learn together in religious tolerance and harmony.

One of the first people we met was one of Channa’s former teachers.  He referred to him as his mentor.  Channa told us that his mentor’s influence inspired him to work hard and obtain his Ph.D.  To me, this demonstrated a clear case of paying it forward.  Channa was now giving back to his community the same way his mentor had once helped him.

As we walked through the school grounds, Channa explained to us how the school started 10 years ago in three small rooms.  He called that part the ‘old school.’  The ‘new school’ was a nice three-story structure that now houses grades one through 12. We walked through the new school and stopped in a few classrooms.   It is a small school – there was one classroom for each grade.  However, it currently educates about 300 children who would otherwise lack access to a formal education.

The first classroom we walked into had the school’s first graders.   These kids were very cute, and very quiet.  As they watched us, I’m sure they wondered who we were and what we were doing there.  Channa, in an effort to make a connection between the kids and us, asked my wife, Cheryl, to come sit in the middle of the room.  He told the children to say “Hello, Auntie Cheryl.”  Still silence.  He asked Cheryl to sing them a song, but she didn’t know what to sing given the language barrier.  Then Channa’s wife, Uma, stepped in and solved the impasse.

She started singing the Hokey Pokey!

Doing the Hokey Pokey!

Of all the songs, Uma chose the Hokey Pokey.  It reminded me of a trip Cheryl and I took with our Friends Unite colleague, Pam Prather, and a number of others, to Africa last year.  After watching the Maasai Warriors show us their ‘war’ dance, our group wanted to reciprocate and show them a dance that best represented America. What did we choose to show the Maasai? The Hokey Pokey!  And here I was again, this time in India, watching Uma, Cheryl, and the first grade students – a room filled with both young and old – all singing, dancing and laughing to the Hokey Pokey.

Click HERE to read Part 3 – The Electricity Problem

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