Some children did not know who Melania Trump was, but it didn’t exactly matter. Excitement was widespread among the students of a Delhi government school, who interacted with the US First Lady on Tuesday.
Melania visited the Sarvodaya Co-educational Senior Secondary School in South Moti Bagh, and the central focus of her visit were the “happiness classes”, which are held in Delhi government schools every morning for students from Class I to Class VIII.
The First Lady attended one such class with students of Class V A, which had been set up specifically for her visit.
“It is very inspiring to me that the students here begin each day participating in mindfulness — from mindful breathing, telling a story to a friend, listening to another classmate or simply reconnecting with nature. I cannot think of a better way for all of us to start our day,” she said while addressing students of the school.
She also spoke about her public awareness campaign for children – ‘Be Best’ – saying that it focuses on “similar ideas of well-being”.
“Seeing your programme firsthand and speaking to your dedicated educators has been a great experience and proved that the principles of ‘Be Best’ are not just limited to the US but can be found throughout the world. This school exemplifies and promotes values of kindness, compassion and respect…,” she said.
In the class, Melania participated in a “mindfulness” meditation activity with the students. The children, meanwhile, had been well-prepared for the session.
“We had found out about a week ago that a big guest was coming to our school. We had decorated the class the previous day. We put up posters on the wall, decorated the blackboard with chalk, and practised a ‘gratitude activity’ which we did today. We spoke about someone or something in our lives that we are thankful for,” said Nisha, one of the students.
Melania had entered the school to lines of children waving small India and US flags to the rhythm of bagpipes played by a band from AG DAV school, who had travelled from their school in Model Town for the occasion.
Apart from the happiness class, Melania also observed a yoga session by students from Classes VI-VIII, who performed Surya Namaskar and had visited the primary section’s “Room to Read” library. She also interacted with nursery and KG students who were pottering in the activity room with clay modelling, building blocks and rangometry.
Among the questions the students asked her were: “How big is America?”, “Is the United States very far?” and “What is your work as the First Lady?”
Students of Delhi government schools are currently not attending classes because of annual examinations which are currently underway. The activities and classes of Tuesday were arranged in light of Melania’s visit.
The First Lady’s visit to the school came amid tension between the Central and state governments. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia — under whose government the school operates — were excluded from the visit, with the US Embassy stating that it does not want the event to “turn political”.
According to a Delhi government education department official, they had been approached by Trump’s campaign specifically for observing the happiness class. “A school was chosen in this area because it is close to the embassy and this particular school is in a secure area, surrounded by government flats,” said the official.
The school which Trump had visited is one of the 54 ‘model’ government schools, in which massive infrastructure work, resources and teaching initiatives have been introduced over the past few years.
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