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02/28/12

PAAIA Brings Nowruz to Elementary Schools Nationwide

Source: Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), Washington, D.C.

“This was an amazing tool to have. The children could not take their eyes off the presentation and had question after question about Iran and Eid. The activity sheets were a God-send and really emphasized what we had talked about. I had parents who came up to me the next day to thank me for giving their children a glimpse of our culture and teaching them something they would not learn otherwise. Thank you!” - Comments from a parent who used the PAAIA Nowruz Project in March 2011

For young children born and raised in the US and celebrating every American national holiday, explaining the concept behind Nowruz, a tradition basked in over 2500 years of history, can be a daunting task. Similarly, parents keen to share their history and heritage with their American friends and other parents don’t always have the tools and resources to do so.

Building on its successful efforts to pass the Nowruz Resolution through both Chambers of Congress in 2010, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) launched its Nowruz Project in March 2011. The Project, offered for the second year, provides parents of elementary school children with resources and information they can use to present this joyous celebration at their children’s schools. The resources include:

  • A PowerPoint presentation that provides information on Iran and Nowruz. The PowerPoint can be used as either a handout or displayed on an overhead projector. Parents can also use the PowerPoint as a way of generating questions and discussion.
  • Nowruz coloring pages provide two sheets for children to color and are used to portray the items that are included on the Haftseen table.
  • A Nowruz Word Sramble activity that helps younger children retain information about Nowruz by looking for common words used in connection with this festive event. The activity sheet can be printed and used as part of the overall presentation in the classrooms.
  • The Crossword puzzle comes in two pages. The first page provides information on Iran and Nowruz, focusing on information that is easy for children to remember. The second page requests that children fill in the crossword by finding answers to questions posed on the page. Answers to all of the questions can be found on the first page of the crossword puzzle. This activity sheet is most effective with children in grade 1 and above.
  • The word translation paper is a simple activity sheet where a child’s name can be written in English and then in Farsi. This activity sheet highlights the beautiful written Farsi language and helps younger children differentiate and appreciate this unique culture and language.

In 2011, parents used the resources to present to elementary school children (kindergarten through sixth grade). At last count, Iranian American parents throughout the country had presented to and used the resources with over 750 children and 200 parents and teachers. Many combined the presentation and activity sheets with other unique gestures such as adding traditional Iranian sweets, setting up a haft-seen, dressing up in traditional Iranian costumes, and giving out small gifts. Every parent commented on the enthusiasm and excitement with which the presentation and activity sheets were received and how much they had helped enhance an understanding of our culture and image within their communities.

Parents interested in using these resources at their children’s school can access them by downloading these materials off of PAAIA’s website. To continuously refine this project, PAAIA would appreciate receiving feedback and comments from parents regarding the use and efficacy of these resources. Comments, questions and feedback can be sent to info@paaia.org.

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