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Volume 72, Issue 47, Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Children celebrate cultures

Center advances multiculturalism with the observance of holidays


The UH Child Care Center will celebrate a Muslim and an Indian holiday Oct. 25 as part of its effort to acknowledge the cultural diversity amongst the children and staff. 

The center will celebrate ‘Eid-ul-Fitr, or the Festival of Fast Breaking, a three-day celebration that occurs at the end of Ramadan. They will also celebrate Diwali or the Festival of Lights, a celebration of the return of Rama, a Hindu god.

"The University of Houston is such a diverse place that we need to celebrate all the different cultures," Nadeema Akhtar, master teacher of the center's pre-school program and coordinator for the event, said. 

"We have children from all over the place, that is why we are doing it," Akhtar said.

This is the first year that the center has attempted to celebrate the holidays of different countries and cultures.

"What we used to do was we never called it the ‘Christmas Holiday', it was just ‘the Holidays'. But this time we tried to be more into it," Akhtar said 

"Our director, she is really into diversity so she talked to me about these things and we decided, ‘Why not?'" she said.

"We have Russian kids, we have French kids, we have British kids, we have Chinese kids, we plan on including everybody, no child is left behind," she said. 

By celebrating the holidays of different cultures, Akhtar believes that it will allow parents to get more involved in their children's lives. 

"Most parents are really happy because we're including them in their celebration.

"One of the parents, from Russia, when I asked about the Russian celebration (Festival of Winter), she was in tears. ‘Oh my God, you're going to celebrate my occasion.' So they feel like this is their home." Akhtar said.

"The parents are bringing the presents for the children. In my (class)room, I have a Muslim girl and (her parents) are bringing presents for all of the children. The children are dressing up."

Today's celebration will include Arab and Indian food and will engage the children in activities that will help them learn about the ‘Eid-ul-Fitr and Diwali holidays.

"We're going to put out tables of food so that everyone who wants to can taste it," Akhtar said. "We're not going to have a big, big feast just a little bit for the taste."

"Also, the children are doing the artwork on Diwali," she said. "Diwali is represented by a lamp, but a special kind of lamp, and the children are going be coloring and painting it whatever they want to," she said.

"A girl is coming to put henna, not on the children because you never know who's allergic and who's not, but on the parents and the teachers if they want to," Akhtar said. "I was thinking of getting some tattoos of henna for the children." 

Originally, the ‘Eid-ul-Fitr and Diwali celebrations were going to be a three-day event.

"We had planned that on Wednesday we were going to do the henna and the artwork, on Thursday we were going to do the dancing and on Friday we're going to have the feast. But when those plans didn't work out, we put everything on for Wednesday," Akhtar said.

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