Almost a year ago my husband Mohsin was elected as the Chairman of Pakistan Professional Forum Qatar which is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, volunteer organization, involved in raising the profile of professionals of Pakistan origin in The State of Qatar. When he was elected, he had a list of things he wanted to do in his capacity as the Chairman, but on top of the list was to set up Urdu classes for children(like ours) who do not go to Pakistani Schools and therefore cannot read/write Urdu (or even speak for that matter).
The biggest mistake we did as parents was that we didn’t focus on speaking Urdu with our kids from the beginning. They study at a British school and having a Filipino nanny at home 24/7 didn’t help their Urdu skills either. The kids found it easier to communicate in one language at school and at home and we (read Me!) didn’t make an extra effort to make sure they speak Urdu at home.
It used to bother Mohsin a lot (since he is an Urdu poet himself!). He used to bring Urdu books for the kids, translated nursery rhymes to Urdu (his poetic talent put to good use!) but despite all his efforts the progress was very slow. Since it wasn’t an organized and fun learning environment, the kids weren’t picking it up. It was a struggle! We found out that this is not the story of only our home but most of the expats of Pakistani origin, who have kids studying in schools other than Pakistani Schools face the same issue.
So the first thing Mohsin did was to set up these Urdu weekend classes with his wonderful PPFQ team, in collaboration with the Pakistan International School(formerly known as PEC -Pakistan Education Centre) at their premises.
PIS provided their Urdu teachers however our ‘Urdu Class Mom’ (a parent volunteer) makes sure that kids learn in a way they are used to and act as a bridge between the kids and the Urdu teacher.
Mohsin also got a Music teacher on board (who is of Pakistani origin and heading the Music Department of a leading school in Qatar), who teaches them Urdu nursery rhymes (which Mohsin translated) and national songs.
And as he says,
Urdu is not only a language – it’s the voice of our culture and civilization. It’s the link. These Urdu classes are our humble effort to connect our children back to their roots.
The classes have been such a success! The credit not only to goes to PPFQ, but to the parents as well who make the effort to bring the kids every weekend and give priority to the cause. The kids are not only learning to read, write and speak Urdu but also enjoy learning Urdu songs.
The Progress So Far..
It’s just been 6 months and my 8-year-old daughter has started to read Urdu books herself and all 3 kids know a number of Urdu songs by heart (even my 4-year-old knows the complete lyrics of Dil Dil Pakistan). My daughter heard the National Anthem play a few times and then wrote the notes (herself!!!!) and surprised me by playing it on her violin (she certainly got the musical ear from her dad! MashaAllah!). And that made me realize, how much impact JUST these 6 months of Urdu classes have had on my children. They not only know a lot more of Urdu language but feel so much more connected to Pakistan!
The Family Fun Day @ Urdu Club, Every Weekend!
It’s become a great weekend activity for us. Every Friday afternoon, we all go to the Urdu club as a family. The kids look forward to meeting their friends and learn Urdu in a fun way, while the parents either entertain themselves to a game of badminton or they socialize over a hot cup of tea with some yummy pakoras! It’s become a weekly family fun day for the whole family!
The Pakistan Day Performance!
The kids have been preparing for a performance for Pakistan Day and will be performing at Ezdan Mall Qatar, sharing their culture with the diverse set of nationalities living in Qatar. When Pakistan Embassy Officials came to know about PPFQ’s plan for this Pakistan Day performance, they invited the Urdu Club kids (along with the Pakistan International School kids) to perform at the Flag Hoisting Ceremony on 23rd March! (How super cool is that!).
So if you are in Qatar, come and join us to support and encourage these kids who couldn’t even speak Urdu properly 6 months ago! And if you are not in Qatar join me Live on my Facebook page!
I feel super proud of ALL the kids who have really worked hard, super duper proud of Mohsin, the entire PPFQ team and the Parent volunteers for helping Mohsin realize his vision into a reality!
To know more about the PPFQ’s Urdu Club, visit their Facebook Page
See you on 23rd March 2017!