Monday, September 1, 2014

Beyond Manzil

Beyond Manzil

With open minds and hearts, there is no limit to what we can learn!

At Manzil we believe there are no limits to learn and explore!
Thus, in our classes learning goes beyond Maths, English and Computers. We and our students are constantly seizing opportunities to experience the kind of learning which deeply connects us to the world, and to each others. Recently, several young students learnt how to produce their own food; an essential idea which, in a city where vegetables come in plastic wrappers, most of them had never really considered.

Kapil, founder of Sajeev Fresh, generously facilitated a workshop in which the students built their own U‘rban Farm’. Their bodies stretched and crouched to examine seeds and lay soil, and were rewarded later with fresh and wholesome food. They used their minds to grasp the basics of plant growth and the logic which guides the practice of farming. And, when they received a few seeds in their palms at the end of the afternoon, their souls were set alight by the prospect of watching vegetables grow in their balcony at home.

We’re also very grateful to Chakmak Magazine, who has given us all the chance to combine our creativity and intellect, something which doesn’t often happen in a traditional learning environment. Each month, our students enjoy listening to a poem written by the renowned poet Gulzar Sahab, and then express what it means to each of them by making a painting. The artwork of five Manzil students has already appeared in the magazine over the past few months, with one painting selected by Gulzar Sahab himself as he found it be a beautiful representation of his words.

For Chakmak, the students also put their pens to paper to write some poetry, many for the first time. Some took a journey into a special memory lane and recalled what they could see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Others felt the array emotions they experience in a day, or what they like the most about their family and friends. And spread their emotions on paper. It was a joy to watch them think about all these different aspects of their lives, gradually becoming more and more self-aware about their ideas, and realize that they have innate in them.

At Manzil, art and craft isn’t limited to drawing and painting. Recently four students were lucky enough to attend a week long Puppetry workshop by Katkatha organized by the Nehru Learning Centre. Throughout the week, two members of Katkatha (one an old Manzil student), helped children of all ages and backgrounds try their hands at shadow and glove puppetry. The students scripted their own stories, made glove puppets from simple recycled materials, learnt to manipulate their puppets, and finally performed their stories in front of each other. Their imagination was limitless. Rohit, a 9 year old student of English at Manzil, based his performance on a tree which instead of growing fruit, grew chocolate! Unfortunately, it didn’t end well. The main character lost all of his teeth from being too greedy.

One of the most valuable things about being together in the Manzil space is that we learn how to communicate with one another lovingly. We believe that communication, like drawing and puppetry, is an art! To develop this vital skill, the core team and teachers have taken time away from everyday work to explore Non Violent Communication (NVC). The sessions were intense, and left us all feeling very connected to one another. We are already seeing the love everyone has to offer us more clearly, and expressing our love in a way that everyone else can see it, too.

We can’t wait to see what else there is for us to experience together beyond our Manzil classroom. With open minds and hearts, there is no limit to what we can learn!

(Cailin Burney-O'Dowd)

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