February 23, 2016
As an ELL educator in an elementary school, I am constantly looking for ways to encourage cultural diversity. This past year we invited author, Farhana Zia, to visit our school on Multicultural Book Day to discuss her books and her Indian heritage. She created a program which combined literacy-related topics with a celebration of her culture. She presented for every grade level and each presentation was different because she made each one grade level appropriate. Therefore, all students were engaged and they made personal connections to her books, personal life, or culture.
Farhana brought many artifacts with her including hijabs, sari’s, food, incense, and spices which the children were able to view and experience in some fashion. The students loved the interactive part of her demonstration. They saw how to tie a hijab and dress in a sari, how to cook roti, and how incense and spices smell. The presentations ended with a question and answer forum that lead to further discussions in their classrooms. The students have asked for her to return when her next book is published in the spring. Hopefully Mrs. Zia will accept our invitation.
It was wonderful to see our students participate in such wonderful conversations which further our understanding of being a culturally diverse community and to watch them enjoy literature written by multicultural authors.
Marion E. Zeh School
February 12, 2016
Dear Enthusiastic Educators:
Do you want to awe your students? Then invite author Farhana Zia to come to your school and talk about her experience as a writer and Muslim American who has lived in the United States for many years. Exciting! Interesting! Amusing! Awesome! Compelling! All adjectives used by the students and teachers of Marion E. Zeh School to describe the presentation by Farhana Zia, author of three children’s book (“Hot, Hot Roti for Dadi-Ji”, “the Garden of my Imaan” and the soon to be released “Child of Spring”). Mrs. Zia’s presentation was the most interactive and fun, yet educational, demonstration I have ever experienced in my 30 years of working as a librarian. Teachers and students learned so much about the Indian culture from tying hijabs and sari wrapping, to cooking roti and Indian deserts, to the smelling of incense and spices to learning the variations in commonly spoken languages. They also learned about the writing process and the thrills and disappointments of becoming a published author. Mrs. Zia’s presentation was a great mix of literacy related topics and a cultural celebration that did not feel forced. Students made lots of connections to her work, her personal life, and her culture and were motivated to write very thoughtful letters to her. She clearly made a positive impact on our students.
School librarian and Head teacher
Marion E. Zeh School
Monday April 20, 2015
The students loved Farhana Zia's presentation. They learned a great deal about Indian culture from her. I couldn't believe how many things she brought in to show the kids! They especially loved seeing a sari get wrapped and rolling out the roti. These hands-on activities made the presentations different from other author visits. It was a great cultural experience!
Farhana Zia’s author visit to Freeman-Kennedy School was fantastic! I would highly recommend Farhana Zia for an author visit to your school. Students, teachers and administrators all had rave reviews. Being a 4th and 5th grade teacher, F. Zia knows her audience well. She brought many artifacts from India and the Muslim religion to share with students. Her presentation was very interactive, involving students attempting to make roti and put on a sari. F. Zia sang, read book excerpts and presented slides with great photos. She adjusted the content and level of her presentation for the older students. See the attached copy of the announcement I sent to our school describing Farhana Zia and her books.
In addition, there is an article on global awareness: “Why students need a Global Awareness and Understanding of Other Cultures”. The last paragraph is particularly good in stating why it was so good for our students to see Farhana Zia:
Global awareness and international collaboration during the formative years results in more rounded individuals, encouraging our pupils to see things from different perspectives and helping them to make informed decisions, acquiring transferable skills that will be useful to them and will remain with them for life. According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters companies cannot find enough applicants with the requisite skills to operate in an international market place, indicating that greater efforts by schools in fostering global awareness and international collaboration are needed to best prepare our students - and ourselves - for life in the 21st century. (http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2012/sep/25/students-global-awareness-other-cultures)
Sharon Lavallee, Librarian, Kennedy Freeman School, Norfolk, MA
April 23, 2015
It was wonderful to have you at our Celebration of Community event. Both Donna and I really enjoyed your presentation. We thought your introductory material including the differences between American and Indian culture, explanation of vocabulary, and discussion of cultural traditions was quite informative. Your read aloud of the book of the book was phenomenal. No one can read the story better than you. I wish the children had a bit more time to explore some of the artifacts you displayed on the tables. Overall, we had an excellent response from the community. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with Miller students.
Chris Louis Sardella, Assistant Principal
Rita Edwards Miller Elementary School
(978) 392-4476 ext. 1112
Norman E. Day Elementary School
(978) 692-5591 ext. 14