Yoga, meditation, storytelling, bhangra enchant First Lady on her visit to Sarvodaya Co-Ed Senior Secondary School
By Geeta Goindi
February 29, 2020 – In keeping with her signature initiative for youth to always ‘Be Best’, First Lady Melania Trump attended a ‘Happiness’ class, rooted in mindfulness, at a government school in Delhi during her and President Donald’s Trump’s first official visit to India.
“It is very inspiring to me that the students here begin each day with mindfulness”, she said about the Sarvodaya Co-Educational Senior Secondary School which specializes in a Happiness Curriculum. “I cannot think of a better way for all of us to start our day”, she added.
America’s First Lady, evoking Spring in a white floral dress, arrived at the school just before noon on Tuesday and was greeted in a customary Indian tradition by young students dressed in colorful ethnic attire who applied a red ‘tilak’ (sacred mark) on her forehead, garlanded her and showered her with flowers.
“Thank you Sarvodaya School for welcoming me with the lovely Tilak and Aarti tradition!”, she said on microblogging site Twitter sharing eye-catching photos of the event.
After lighting the ceremonial lamp, Trump proceeded to tour the school entering the reading room and attending a storytelling session, all the while interacting with students and even sharing hugs, a heart-warming sight!
In the activity room for kindergarten students, she engaged with children involved in drawing, clay modeling and building blocks. She then entered a school ground where students were performing the ‘surya namaskar’ asana (posture) in yoga, a mesmerizing scene!
At a Happiness class, she meditated with students as part of the mindfulness activity and admitted she is feeling relaxed after the exercise.
Back in Washington, Trump posted a series of tweets with photos which showed she was profoundly impressed by her India visit and to the Sarvodaya School in particular. “I was inspired by the ‘Reading Classroom’ and ‘Happiness Curriculum’ programs at Sarvodaya School in New Delhi. Wonderful to see the principles of #BeBest are not just limited to the US, and can be found throughout the world”, she said.
Be Best is a public awareness campaign created by the First Lady which focuses on the well-being of youth, and advocates against cyberbullying and opioid abuse.
Manu Gulati, an acclaimed teacher at the Sarvodaya School tweeted, “Both #BeBest initiative and #HappinessCurriculum focus on the well-being of each child. If these are spread across geographical boundaries, the gravest problems of the world like terrorism and hatred would be solved successfully. There would be peace and happiness everywhere”.
During her school visit, the First Lady witnessed a cultural program on a stage overlooking the school lawn. Children sat on the grass waving the national flags of India and America. A Sikh boy drew considerable attention from the audience and applause from the First Lady for his impromptu dance during a bhangra performance.
Sharing a video of the boy’s performance on social media, Indian business leader and entrepreneur Anand Mahindra said, “In a world burdened by natural calamities, trade battles, social upheavals and pandemics, this viral clip showing a child’s unrestrained enthusiasm is a breath of fresh air. He didn’t give a hoot about the celebrity in front and the nervous secret service agent behind! Balle balle!”
It is noteworthy that the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ was introduced by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2018. It encourages children to practice mindfulness in addition to storytelling and drawing.
Ahead of Melania Trump’s visit to the school, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a member of AAP, tweeted that the First Lady “will attend happiness class in our school today. Great day for our teachers, students and Delhiites. For centuries, India has taught spirituality to the world. Am happy that she will take back the message of happiness from our school”.
Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia said, on Twitter, “It was a pleasure to host you @FLOTUS at the Delhi government school. Your endorsement for the #HappinessClass has boosted the morale of Delhi’s Team Education. It is a matter of great pride that Delhi’s education model is being recognized on the global stage”.
Clearly fascinated by her visit, Trump tweeted, “Unforgettable afternoon at the Sarvodaya School in New Delhi! It was an honor to be surrounded by extraordinary students and faculty. Thank you for the warm welcome! #BeBest”.
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