Handwriting translates globally
I don’t know about you, but I still vividly remember the touch of my elementary school teacher’s caring hand cupping my own little hand as she guided the flowing movement of the pencil that we held together. I remember how hard it was in the beginning. I also remember it helped me think deeply about every beautiful cursive word that I learned to write. Growing up in India, handwriting, including cursive English, had a central place in every class — be it math, science, English, Hindi or history.
A few years ago, it was a notebook with gorgeous cursive English handwriting that I saw at a small village school in a remote part of the Indian Himalayas which became one of the key inspirations for me to start a nonprofit to help the kids in that region. Remarkably, I found that one could look at the notebook of almost any child at this school and would find the same beautiful and artistic cursive handwriting. The principal of this Himalaya Public School, Devbala Bisht, was amused that I was taking pictures of their handwriting. You should know that these were students and teachers whose first language is not English, who then barely had a handful of books in English and most had very minimal contact with the world outside of these mountains.
For me, like for most of you, tapping of keys has replaced the meditative swirling of ink on paper over the years. My own cursive is dead. So you can imagine just how terribly conscious and embarrassed I was as I signed their guestbook while giggling kids watched.
With the generosity of so many in the Monadnock region, in the last 4 years Himalayan Education Foundation has built a library, a computer lab, a science lab, and installed solar lighting and water heaters at the Himalaya Public School and it provides scholarships to almost 70 children from very poor families. There is still much more work to do to help the people out of poverty there.
It is simply wonderful to see that the art of elegant cursive handwriting is still taught as a critical skill at this obscure village school tucked away in the mountains where India, Nepal and Tibet collide. Every single visit to the school that I make ends in my tears dripping onto letters and cards that the young Himalayan students carefully place in my hands... all written in cursive that is alive and well in this remote corner of the world.
Jayant Hardikar, a resident of Peterborough, is founder and president of the Peterborough-based Himalayan Education Foundation. Learn more at www.himalayaneducation.org or on Facebook.