Bringing South Asian Literature into the Classroom

Highline Teachers at South Asia Workshop

Highline Teachers at South Asia Workshop

The South Asia Center and Highline School District, in conjunction with UW’s Southeast Asia Center and the Center for Global Studies, continued their project on integrating literature from and about our regions into the classroom in the most diverse district in the state of Washington. The workshops focused on Ramayana and on the theme of Finding Home.

Ramayana Workshop: The Story of Rama, about a prince and his long hero’s journey, is one of the world’s great epics. It began in India and spread among many countries throughout Asia. Its text is a major thread in the culture, religion, history, and literature of millions. Through its study, teachers come to understand how people lived and what they believed and valued. As the story became embedded into the culture of many South Asian communities, they created their own versions reflecting their own values and beliefs. As a result, there are literally hundreds of versions of the story of Rama.

Teachers investigated this powerful genre comparing and noting repeated patterns and symbols to analyze how traditional tales have been re-imagined in a variety of texts and genres. Storytelling traditions abound throughout South and Southeast Asia, and these traditions provide the raw material for many great works of literature.

Finding Home Workshop: With significant numbers of people in South Asia leaving their homes voluntarily or being forced to move, its important for teachers to understand what motivates a person to move, and how they define “home” after such a move. This workshop paired fiction and non-fiction works in order to help educators better know how to discuss this important topic in their classrooms, which include many students who have moved their homes.

The Center will continue its collaboration with Highline Schools in the coming years.