Austin Tamil School’s 5th Annual Graduation

By: Mithra Ananthkumar

Raising children in America doesn’t mean that Indians have to give up their language and culture.

This was one of the many goals that Austin Tamil Sangam had in mind when founding its Tamil school.

On May 21, 2017, the Austin Tamil School (ATS) hosted its 5th annual graduation ceremony to congratulate all of their students.
The event was spectacular and unique in that each student demonstrated a cultural and/or language based talent that they had learned in their classes during the school year.
A variety of performances ranging from poetry reading to tongue twister recitals were displayed to the crowded auditorium filled with an attentive and supportive audience of parents and friends.

The ATS also encouraged its students to try out different skills by having students co-host the event with a few adults.
Each level performed a different talent, starting with Tamil rhymes, then moving on to Tamil rapping, and ending with various versions of the famous Tenali Raman skit.
Students recited the Thirukural and with a unexpected twist, provided the audience with the meaning of each Thirukural passage.

The ATS graduation also featured a student speaking portion in which students shared what they felt that the ATS was about.

“To learn about Tamil happily”, “so that teachers will fix our mistakes so that we can learn from them”, and “to learn about the culture, customs, and traditions and not just the language” were some of the translated responses from the chutti kiddos – as the entire event was spoken in Tamil.

This event also served as a gathering of the Indian families in the area to come together to celebrate their children’s accomplishments as well as socialize, allowing the community to come closer together.
The founding director, Mahendran Nagarajan, was among the speakers at this event who detailed some of the information about the ATS program for students.

“We have two locations now. One in North Austin and one in South Austin.” Nagarajan said.
This allows students from all parts of Austin to attend classes at ATS and increase the number of students that speak Tamil in the Austin area. In the end of the day, the goal to know the culture and language as it is a part of each individual.
The ATS also offers enrichment programs in addition to its Tamil classes, which includes classes like robotics.
Another unique feature of ATS, which is an up and coming program is its UT tie up partnership.

UT Austin Tamil Professor, Sankaran Radhakrishnan, is working with the ATS board to establish a program that allows students to learn Tamil in all aspects.
Professor Radhakrishnan teaches the Tamil language and culture, in both modern and classical styles. Within the Tamil language, students can learn both conversational or spoken Tamil as well as written Tamil.
The Tamil school is open to students from K-12th grade and is taught by volunteers who are native Tamil speakers. ATS is currently closed for the summer but will open up again for students in the fall.

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