Tadeeb International seeks to foster new writing from all quarters, but, particularly, by young people. Recently, to this end, Bazm-E-Tadeeb International organised and mounted, in conjunction with the British Council, Lahore, (www.britishcouncil.org/Pakistan), and the Global Schools Partnership, (www.britishcouncil.org/globalschools.htm), a video-conference literary event for pupils from schools in Bradford and Lahore. The umbrella title of this ongoing venture is the Tadeeb International Young Writers' Project.
On Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008, 5 pupils from schools in Bradford and 6 from schools in Lahore shared their literary creations with each other via video link. In Bradford, this was the climax of a long period of preparation and effort, which has included the pupils' performance of their work at the International Mushaira of the Ilkley Literature Festival (www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk)in October.
In the course of the project, assistance in kind has also been generously provided by the Schools Linking Network and the University of Bradford's School of Lifelong Education and Development, without which it would not have been possible to realize the dream of directly connecting young people across the continents through the medium of literature. Bradford Metropolitan District Council has contributed to the cost of this issue's distribution in recognition of Bazm-E-TadeebInternational's engagement with the young writers of Bradford. Our thanks go to the Council and all other institutions and the many individuals, including Tadeeb International's Advisory Editor, Dr. Mukhtar Uddin Ahmed and the poet, Sitara Khan, who have actively supported this pioneering project. We hope it will become an established event in the school calendar and that it will lead to further offshoots, such as student exchanges between Lahore and Bradford, and the establishment of an Arts exhibition and performance forum for the young people of Bradford.
Above all, the contribution of the pupils involved is to be applauded, for, in spite of onerous school schedules, they have responded with spirit and commitment. The Bradford pupils study at Tong High Schoool and Feversham College and their supporting teachers have spared no effort to help the project reach this point. The same comments apply to the pupils and teachers in Lahore from The Green School, The Lahore Lyceum School, The Beacon House School System, Garden Town Branch and The Lords International School.
The connection with the Ilkley Literature Festival continues as Shamshad Khan, Poet-in-Residence to the Festival, 2008, who gave the students a deeply useful performance training session prior to the Festival's International Mushaira, attended the video-conference and performed her poetry at it. In the New Year, Shamshad will be working with students from schools participating in the project and others. We hope that the students engaged in this work will form a vanguard for Arts activities in Bradford.
The video-conference was introduced in Lahore by Rukhsana Ashfaq, Projects Manager of the British Council there, and hosted by Mati Ur Rehman, literary figure and TV anchorman. In Bradford, the event was introduced and hosted by Helen Goodway, English Editor of Tadeeb International. It was a joyful occasion at which the students performed magnificently. Their writing was utterly moving, expressing not only the woes of youth but also a profound yearning for peace over war, life over death and the universal characteristics of humankind underlying different cultural contexts. Hameed Qaiser, Urdu Editor of Tadeeb International, read from his editorial for the new issue; its content dovetailed with the ethos of the event, being entitled, ‘Peace and Literature'.
Before its conclusion, Rukhsana Ashfaq invited the students to comment on the value of the project to them. Their responses were most moving:
Thank you very much for all your support and encouragement...I have learnt a lot through this project...I have become more confident...I enjoyed writing the poem...and I really liked your ideas and feedback about the poem and how I could make improvements to it. I really enjoyed the conference...I really liked the way students in Lahore presented their work. I was really impressed .It was a great experience.
The whole process was a precious experience that I shall always cherish. Apart from the enjoyment, we gained confidence and learnt a great deal of skills; skills that we wouldn't have learnt otherwise; little things such as how to add expression to your poem to make it sound better, how to conduct yourself throughout the whole process, how to write out your piece in order for you to read it with ease, etc. I particularly enjoyed the video conference greatly as it connected me to my own roots which I left not so long ago. Coming across students from familiar schools, especially the Beacon House School System where I studied for 8 years, and sharing pieces and ideas with them from the other side of the world, felt extremely wonderful. This whole process was indeed very valuable. I shall be looking forward to such events in future.