By Nandhika Kamalakkannan (YES 2019-20, India, hosted with World Link in Visalia, CA)
I'm from a city called Chennai in the state of Tamilnadu. Let me share some interesting things from this International Education Week! I really enjoyed sharing my culture. I gave 25 cultural presentations that reached nearly 800 people in my school and community. I mostly conducted presentations in school classes, and my goal was to reach every person in my school and introduce myself and my country. I wrote thank you cards and gave a country pin to all the teachers who gave me the opportunity to do a presentation in their class. In every class, I taught everyone how to greet and thank people in Tamil. I sang my national anthem in some presentations and did henna for most of the teachers and some students. I spoke about the traditional book "Thirrukural" and read some phrases translated into English. I related the significance of bindi and gave some out for students to wear throughout the week.
One thing that worked well was doing different types of presentations for each class. In my dance class, I danced the traditional dance known as "Bharathanatiyam" and spoke about dance forms from different regions. In the baking prep class, I taught them how to cook two Indian snacks, which we distributed to all the staff and teachers on campus. They all loved it. I also made the famous Indian dessert "Gulab jamun" for my speech class.
After doing so many presentations, I had so many new friends. While walking in the corridors wearing my traditional dress, students came up to me, thanked me and told me how much they loved my presentations! I love to share my culture with everyone.
Then, other exchange students and I visited the Global Learning middle school to conduct presentations for the 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes. I sang my national anthem and we ate biryani and other Indian dishes. I taught them the Tamil alphabet, how to write their names in my language, and how to say welcome and thank you in Tamil. I learned that there is a global book read-aloud program and this year they had chosen a book that takes place in my city, so they invited me to come back again as a guest speaker! Even the production team interviewed me for their show!! This is one of my great memories.
These little things make me feel special. I am really thankful for everyone who supported me and gave me this amazing opportunity. Thank you so much to my cluster and my local coordinators for cheering me up each and every time. This week gave me fabulous memories ❤️. I'm blessed to be in the YES program, and I am really grateful to the YES program, State Department, World Link and AFS for giving me this amazing opportunity!