District Highlights

What is Nowruz? SD42 students explain how they celebrate in new video

Students from three Maple Ridge elementary schools are sharing how they celebrate Nowruz in a new informative video.

Fifteen students from Albion Elementary, Fairview Elementary and Harry Hooge Elementary participated, with guidance from English Language Learners (ELL) teachers Harjit Chauhan, Sukhdeep Birdi and Kawaldeep Ghuman.

“The students in the video were excited to participate and they were quick to add their own personal connections to our research about Nowruz,” said Chauhan, teacher at Fairview Elementary.

Nowruz marks the Persian New Year and the arrival of the spring season. The 13-day festival is celebrated by millions of people with diverse backgrounds and faiths all over the world, including those from the Middle East, and Central and South Asia.

“Everyone can celebrate Nowruz,” explained Albion Elementary student Mahsa, who is in Grade 5. “I have been celebrating Nowruz since I was a little girl. I like this holiday because it’s [the] beginning of a new year and everything we do is new and everything we see is new.”

In the video, students explain the unique ways their families celebrate the festival, from their favourite foods to the items they add to their haft-sin/haftseen tables.

“Hearing how our students celebrate Nowruz was really enjoyable because they spoke about it with pride and joy,” said Sukhdeep Birdi, Albion Elementary teacher. “I loved listening to the students share their stories.”

The goal, added Harry Hooge teacher Kawaldeep Ghuman, is to reflect student voices and showcase the different cultures and traditions celebrated in the school community.

A haft-sin table with an apple, garlic, dried fruit, vinegar and sumac on top of it.

“We encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about the different cultures to foster a more inclusive learning environment,” she said.

In past years, the group of ELL teachers have produced other educational videos with their students highlighting different holidays and traditions, including Ramadan and Diwali. When these students saw the other videos, they felt inspired, Chauhan explained.

“After watching those videos, they wanted to participate in creating another video about Nowruz and educating their peers about the holiday,” she said.

Students and their families showcased their personal experiences by sharing photos and bringing in traditional items used to celebrate the holiday.

“They helped set up the haftseen tables,” said Birdi, adding the video was very much a collaborative project with families.

Ghuman agreed, noting the collaboration added a layer of authenticity to the process.

“We love learning from our students and families,” she explained. “It goes beyond the research available because we hear about their authentic experiences.”

Shabnam Momtahen, one of the district’s settlement workers in schools (SWIS), also spoke about her personal experiences celebrating Nowruz. In the video, Momtahen explains the tradition of Eidi, where children are gifted money.

“We are really thankful to all those who contributed,” said Chauhan. “The video wouldn’t have been possible without their help.”

This year, Nowruz falls on March 19, 2024.

Haft-sin table with banner on the wall behind it that reads, "Happy Nowruz".

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