New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) For nearly one hour, US First Lady Melania Trump had the first-hand experience of the Delhi government’s much-talked about ‘happiness curriculum’ at Sarvodaya School in South Moti Bagh, here on Tuesday.
The US first Lady was accorded a traditional welcome with ‘aarti’ and was garlanded by students. Sporting a tilak, Melania Trump spent the time at a classroom and watched 24 students and their teachers seeking nothing but happiness.
Siddharth, one of the students in the class, said the First Lady enquired about mindfulness and also the activities in happiness classes.
A girl students told IANS, “During the session, we had to express gratitude to someone. I expressed my respect towards the class teacher. She (Melania Trump) enquired whom did I thank and why.”
She played puzzles with students, and also briefly occupied the class teacher’s chair and quizzed them. Paintings and stickers in the classroom, depicting human behaviour, caught her attention. She was impressed with thrust on compassion and empathy as part of the happiness curriculum.
“I can’t think of a better way to start our day with than this,” the First Lady said and added, she was “inspired” by the happiness curriculum. She advised students to be “good to each other” throughout their life and thanked teachers for inculcating good values in them.
While students were performing bhangra dance, one student — Gaganjit — started dancing spontaneously on the beats, much to the First Lady’s amusement. While her security apparatus went into tizzy, Melania Trump enjoyed it thoroughly. As the cameras caught Gaganjit dancing away to glory, the First Lady could be seen laughing and clapping for him.
Before leaving, she wished students success and obliged almost everyone who walked up to her to shake hands. She also thanked the educators for their efforts. “I want to thank all educators for setting a positive example and giving skills, knowledge to students,” said the US First Lady.
As part of the programme, students are taught various activities, like mindfulness, plays, and anxiety reducing techniques.
Launched in 2018, the ‘happiness curriculum’ was intended to shift focus from marks-oriented learning to art-based learning that not just teaches good behaviour but also helps in dealing with regular stress.
Slovenian-born model-turned-social activist, Melania, 50, moved to the US in 1996 and is the only First Lady to become a naturalised US citizen. Mother of Barron Trump, Melania spends a lot of time on her campaign against drug abuse and for the well-being of children. On her foreign trips, she often visits hospitals and schools.
On her visit, a proud Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted: “Welcome to our school @FLOTUS! We hope you would have a great time here in #HappinessClass It’s just 18 months old initiative, but early results have made us confident that @HappinessDelhi is the ultimate solution to all violence & hate in mindsets that we r facing worldwide.”
However, the event didn’t go without its share of controversies.
When the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) cried foul over omission of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Sisodia’s name from the Melania Trump’s visit to the school, the US embassy in New Delhi said, while it “had no objection to the presence of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, we appreciate their recognition that this is not a political event”.
“It’s best to ensure focus on education, school and students,” said an embassy spokesperson.