It started with a small gathering of Urdu story time in a public library. Parents applauded and the children rushed to look at the words and pictures up close in the book that was displayed on the monitor. Sara Iqbal, one of the 3 founders of Indus Arts Council, had just finished reading the story of a “baloongra” rescued from a tree branch by a little Pakistani girl. “Baloongra” is the word for “kitten” in Urdu language. This animated, gestural story in Urdu, mesmerized the children at the library story time. South Asian parents left this gathering demanding more Urdu story times and language classes for their now-American born children. They felt a bridge of communication develop as they answered questions for their children about their heritage and culture in Urdu language. What started as a personal strife of the founders to keep a bridge between their American born children and their rich Pakistani heritage, has bloomed into a cultural exchange between the surrounding global communities.
Indus Arts Council fosters a cross-cultural exchange between the Pakistani diaspora and the diverse communities in the U.S. through Urdu classes, cultural events, films, and theater by keeping the Urdu language at the core of all its activities. We collaborate with creatives from the Humanities and Arts in the U.S. and Pakistan to build immersive experiences to broaden cultural knowledge and enrich societies that celebrate and cherish Urdu heritage.
PERVAAZ – Urdu Language classes began in 2013 with 20 students in the Woodlands area community center. Classes are now taught in 4 different locations including Spring, Sugarland, Cypress, and Houston. Students range from young children aged 5 – 15, all the way to adults. While the majority of young students are heritage learners, Arabs and Spanish also make up a small number of our adult classes. See our Urdu classes.
Urdu Summer camp is held every summer for 15 days and is open for k-12 students. This Urdu immersion camp is taught by ACTFL qualified teachers as a themed, immersive curriculum which takes the students around Pakistan using media and interactive presentations for an enhanced cultural experience.
Children’s Theatre provides the opportunity to children and adults learning Urdu at IAC’s language classes, to participate in the theatrical performances, organized at the end of each semester, bringing the learning of language, its usage and experience, full circle.
NAKSH – Art classes are offered to students k-12 and adults. “Naksh” means a mark you make on a surface or an impression you may leave upon someone. Art always leaves its impression. Students are exposed to various artists and styles from all around Pakistan—historical, contemporary and street art. They’re taught to draw and paint to understand and critique the language of colors, shapes, and forms, and connect with these visual stories from another world. Technical skills mastered include mixing and applying colors, using different paint brush sizes correctly, handling canvas with easels, taping canvas with correct technique, stenciling, using art vocabulary, and displaying art. Our goal is to bridge the art of one culture to another and leave a lasting impression upon the future generations on this globe.
Independant Films engage a diverse audience from surrounding communities to produce thought provoking topics covering the changes and challenges of South Asian diaspora and their American born children. Learn more about the independant films Roxanne and Soach by Indus Arts Council. See our upcoming Rung Film Festival.