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Rama
Rama, one of many popular figures and deities
in Hinduism

ITC project: Indian students write family-oriented stories

By James M. Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist

(May 12, 2009)--The UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching will host "The Kahani Project" at the Institute of Texan Cultures through May 16. "Kahani" is Hindi for "story." The Kahani Project is a literacy endeavor in which Indian and other international students write family-oriented stories. Admittance to the exhibit is complimentary with ITC admission.

"India has a rich oral tradition and people usually sit around the village leader or the eldest member of the village and listen to stories or kahani even today," said Kalpana Iyengar, a San Antonio Writing Project teacher consultant and Ph.D. student at UTSA. "This art brings groups of people together and provides entertainment for the entire family."

A collection of 25 stories is available for guests to enjoy in the ITC auditorium during regular museum operating hours. Stories recount memories of relatives living in India, family trips to parents' homes, Indian heroes, language barriers, adapting to life in America or being exposed to Indian culture for the first time.

"The stories are amazingly personal and yet universal," said Roxanne Henkin, UTSA professor and director of the San Antonio Writing Project. "The students talk about their lives and their struggles to show their families in India that they are still Indian while fully American too. Their parents and the Indian community in San Antonio expressed pride and support as the students of all ages shared their stories."

The Kahani Project is a program of the San Antonio Writing Project (SAWP), a local nonprofit organization designed to promote the effective teaching of writing in San Antonio area schools for students aged pre-K through the university level. SAWP teacher consultants are trained in a summer institute and then offer workshops, institutes in local school districts and summer writing camps for students.

The San Antonio Writing Project is sponsored by The University of Texas at San Antonio and The National Writing Project. The Kahani Project was made possible by the India Association of San Antonio. For more information, visit the San Antonio Writing Project Web site.

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The Institute of Texan Cultures is on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 851 E. Durango Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call (210) 458-2300 or visit the Institute of Texan Cultures Web site.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is an agency of the Vice President for Community Services at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The mission of the museum is to engage lifelong learners in the understanding and celebration of Texas cultural heritage. On the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus in downtown San Antonio, the 182,000-square-foot complex features 65,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and displays that tell the stories of Texans.

The museum develops quality, accessible resources for educators and lifelong learners on topics of cultural heritage and strives to develop a rich and vibrant culture in the arts and humanities that will expand the community's awareness and appreciation of Texas through an engaging series of exhibits, programs and special events. Resources for multiple audiences are available at the museum's Web site, TexanCultures.com.

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