Living in a vibrant multicultural world, we have so much to learn from it. Despite the diversity, we will always find some interconnectedness between two different countries and their cultures. Oakridge, one of the top international schools in Hyderabad partnered with JAM (Japan Art Mile) and got connected with the Minami Tsurumaki Primary School in Japan wherein they participated in the International Intercultural Mural Exchange project.
International Intercultural Mural Exchange (IIME) project involves two schools from different countries to paint a mural. Both the schools represent their own country and culture in the mural with an emphasis on the interaction. This project involves them in various activities step by step. Each activity is internally connected with their school subjects which includes language, history, and visual arts.
Around 30 students from Oakridge International School Gachibowli of grade 4 participated in this project along with the Japanese students from Minami Tsurumaki Primary School. Both the schools connected through Skype first to understand each other. For the first meeting, students were donned in their cultural attires to introduce themselves and their culture. In the next step, they were involved in research during which they learned about their own culture including food, festivals and traditions. In line with this, both the schools shared their learning and mutually decided on a theme that depicts the message of ‘Global Harmony and Peace’. However, they used folk art to exhibit things that are unique to their respective cultures. Students and teachers of both the schools together brainstormed and decided on how to create the mural and how to place the folk art by both the countries. Finally, these young creative kids came up with incredible ideas to draw the mural and this is how it came up.
The left side of the mural speaks about the Indian culture made by our students which includes fireworks to depict our cultural festival Diwali, an elephant, the Himalayas, a woman pounding rice using a traditional mortar and pestle, Madhubani folk art painting style painted on our national bird Peacock, other birds that depicts Gond folk art painting style painted just below the image of one of the 7 wonders – The Taj Mahal, flying kites to depict our harvest festival, a traditional Hindu temple and a village scene which also depicts the Warli folk art painting style.
The right side of the mural was created by the partner school, which speaks about the Japanese culture. They had Hanabi symbolizing firework shows to depict their rich tradition of crafting fireworks, Mt. Fuji – active volcano, Sakura cherry blossoms: onset of spring along with Hanami customs, Japanese pagodas: each roof or levels symbolize one of Earth’s elements– (lowest) water, fire, wind and space (top), architecture that were mostly made of wood, Koi fish symbolizing health, maintenance and longevity, the famous Samurai: the warriors of premodern Japan, the Japanese crane symbolizing good fortune and longevity.
Students involved from both the countries not only learned to be appreciative but also got an opportunity to showcase their creative side. As we know creativity is all about expression and this was an apt platform for the students to express their ability and creativity. Additionally, this collaborative project gave our students a wide perspective on the culture of Japan as they interacted with the Japanese students. Such kind of activities helps them learn to respect other cultures and see the similarities between two different countries.