Chocolate and ice cream both?” Pearl asks, with a dreamy, blissful look. She seems to have mentally transported her seven-year-old self to a Swiss chalet, dedicatedly consuming ice cream and chocs while it snows outside.
My oyster: (above) ‘Globetrotters’ at The Koala Club; (inset) examining a Swiss franc. Photographs by Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
But Pearl Buhariwala is in a room in Mumbai with three other girls, learning about Switzerland in a “Globetrotters” session conducted by The Koala Club, an after-school edutainment centre. Fifteen weekly sessions will be conducted by instructor Nimisha Kimji and Toral Bhanushali (who is a partner in The Koala Club). Both have travelled a fair deal and want children to start a journey appreciating other cultures.
So far, that journey is going well. A home-made Swiss flag is changing hands, a slideshow of pictures is playing on the computer screen. Swiss franc coins are being passed from one small hand to another and someone wants to know “Who is this girl warrior on it?” The children are told about Switzerland’s capital and neighbouring countries, as well as about things the country is famous for (which prompted Buhariwala’s reaction). They are even informed that Bollywood directors get invitations to shoot in Switzerland (“just like the way you get invited to birthday parties”).
“Like in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,” says 10-year-old Maitri Thakkar, who vacationed in Switzerland last year with her parents and elder sister. She’s asked to come to the front to talk about her experiences there. Thakkar is at an age where “what I did” equals “what I bought” but Bhanushali gently gets her to talk about the cities she visited.
The session’s aim is not just to impart information, but also to get the children involved in diverse cultures by keeping the proceedings interactive. Kimji asks them to try spelling out the word “chalet”; after a few wrong starts with “sh”, they get it right.
The children are given a “passport” in which, at the end of a session, they stick the flags of the countries they have “visited”. Art and dances from these countries are planned too.
Besides popular holiday destinations such as Switzerland, Malaysia and Singapore, the class will have sessions dedicated to countries such as Israel, Nigeria and Japan. Bhanushali and Kimji feel there cannot be much value-add in making children aware of countries they might have travelled to already. “Besides, many parents have business ties with countries such as Nigeria and Japan. So the kids should grow up learning about them,” says Kimji.
For now, however, chocolate is more important than business, and as the bowl of Lindor minis is passed around the class, that blissful look returns.
Globetrotters sessions will start 1 August for children in the age group of 5-9. Contact 09833415008.