Earlier this week the Hindu Festival of Holi was celebrated around the world. This is a very colourful festival, often celebrated by people covering each other in brightly coloured powders, resulting in some spectacular sights and events, and some of the most easily recognisable photos from any religious celebration!
At one of the campuses I lead, students learned (from some wonderful parents!) about one mythological story linked to the festival, as well as tasting some traditional foods and sweets, creating their own colourful bandanas and, of course, taking part in their own Rangwali Holi, or “Carnival of color”.
One question that I am often asked (not only here in Hong Kong, but in most schools I have taught in) is why we place such an emphasis on celebrating these different cultural festivals. The answer, in my opinion, is deeply embedded in our desire to create students who are engaged with, and empathetic to, the world around them. Not just the narrow, singular world that they may encounter within the confines of their immediate family and social groups – the exciting and diverse global culture that they will, ultimately, be required to engage with in their future lives. To understand and value diversity begins with encountering those different cultural practices in ways which are safe and enjoyable. Celebrations at school are often low-key and focused on learning a little about the things that are special to others. We celebrate and experience (on a minor scale) the things that people around us value. It can help us understand and be more accepting and tolerant of those who are different from us, as well as growing learning and children who are open-minded and knowledgeable about the world around them.
That is a desirable and achievable goal in educating our students to take their place in leading the global community in the future!