A summer school doesn't necessarily have to mean education in the form of books. It could simply be an institution which school children would join to keep themselves active during vacations. We all like to spend time with people of our own age. It is also important to allow children to do what they want explore their interests and learn from experience.
The school should consist primarily of extra-curricular activities which the students may choose from rather than be forced to attend. Hence they will be eager to attend their classes. Classes should be held from 9 o'clock in the morning till 1 in the afternoon. Neither will the children complain of waking early to go to school, nor will any office-going parents face difficulties in sending their children.
The school can arrange for different clubs. Chess clubs can arrange tournaments while those interested in debate can hold debating sessions. Many children are afraid of public speaking. While this is a very important skill to develop, they get few opportunities to overcome their fear. Speaking in front of friends and classmates is an effective way of overcoming stage fright. The school should have a library with a large collection which is constantly being updated. Youngsters love to read modern writers who have new books coming to the markets every year.
Apart from classics which so many of us find boring, the library should also include these so that we grow an interest in reading. The library should not have an imposing silence which discourages us from entering, but should have a friendly calm which makes reading more enjoyable.
The students can be taught music, dance and art having a large number of students will enable the management to arrange for diverse forms. There may be those who are interested in modern art or folk music. The more popular band music can also be performed. Some categories of music such as jazz are quite uncommon in our country and are sure to find many eager learners.
Summer is the time for outdoor games. Cricket, football, basketball and volleyball teams hardly get time to practise during the rest of the year. A summer school means the players will get together and practise without any academic pressure. The school can also allow us to try out games like tennis, baseball or hockey which otherwise we hardly have the chance to play. Games like fencing or boxing can also be taught. This will ensure that the children remain physically fit while learning new sport.
Camping out in the open can be arranged while the children can go cross-country hiking. This will arouse the interest of many teenagers. They may be taken to visit places of historical or political importance across the country. Ensuring that school-goers of our society are aware of our past and our rich heritage is very important.
Summer school can encourage students to join voluntary work. The students can visit remote villages and create awareness among the people.
They can address villagers about the long-standing tradition of giving and taking dowry, health and hygiene, arsenic poisoning, better food habits and other social issues. Others can take part in tree-planting campaigns. They can also raise funds to help poor people. Many low-income families do not get proper medical treatment due to lack of money. These families can be helped in their dark days. By learning to extend a helping hand, these children will become responsible citizens of our nation.
Although such a school is yet to be established in Bangldesh, an institution like this would be highly commendable. School children can simply enjoy their time and do things that they do not get time for during the rest of the year. It would enable them to get a break from their academic life. At the same time they will develop other skills which will help them later on in their lives.
I sometimes wonder what it is that keeps me coming back to Sub-continental literature. Maybe it's the same thing that makes me return again and again to the street food, because, even for a pizza for the scrumptious bhel puris, phuchkas, idlis and dosas, koti rolls have no parallel in Western Cuisine. Okay, I better quit speculating about food while I still remember I'm on a diet.
Which brings me to Arranged Marriage, a collection of short stories by Chita Divakaruni. An arranged marriage, for a woman, represents an un-retractable step into an unfamiliar situation; one where she cannot quite anticipate what to expect. For the young girls and women brought to life in these stories, the possibility of change, of starting anew, is both as terrifying and filled with promise as the ocean that separates them from their homes in India. From the story of a young bride whose fairy-tale vision of California is shattered when her husband is murdered and she must face the future on her own, to a proud middle-aged divorced woman determined to succeed in San Francisco, Divakaruni's award-winning poetry fuses here with prose for the first time to create eleven devastating portraits of women on the verge of an unforgettable transformation.
In one story, "Doors," the character Preeti, after moving to the United States, has come to love the western idea of privacy, and this is threatened when her husband's friend comes to live with them, and she finds herself facing her husband's view of a traditional Indian wife. In another story, "Affair," the protagonist comes to know of her best friend's affair, and this leads her to contemplate her own arranged marriage with her self-cented husband. Divakaruni deals with a variety of issues in the book, including racism, interracial relationships, economic disparity, abortion, and divorce. She says that the stories are inspired by her imagination and the experiences of others.
Like most Indian authors, Divakaruni's writings have a rich flavour of their own, with the Bengal society and the extended families descending on the characters to complicate matters. These are not your typical immigrant-experience stories, however. The author does not dwell on the 'Oh, it's so hard for an Indian to adjust to America' factor. Instead, most of her stories deal with flaws in the Indian society as a whole, and it is something that even we can relate to. Like a variety of chutneys, each story has a different taste. Some are really sweet, some will leave you smiling, the others are sad and leave a bitter taste in the mouth. This one's for the girls, and I'm sure they will be able to relate
By Sabrina F Ahmad
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