Indus Arts Council (IAC)
A Cultural Exchange in the Ethnically Diverse City of Houston
Parents applauded and the children rushed to look at the words and pictures up close in the book that was displayed on the monitor. I had just finished reading the story of a “baloongra” rescued from a tree branch by a little Pakistani girl who broke all the taboos by climbing a tree. “Baloongra” is the word for “kitten” in Urdu language and girls in urban Pakistan do not climb trees. 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. This was 4 years ago.
Since then, Indus Arts Council (IAC), with it’s inception in 2012, has attained outstanding growth in structure, resources and programming, and is a leading Arts and Cultural Organization of Pakistani decent in the Houston area. “IAC’s mission is to Promote diversity and awareness of arts and culture of Pakistan in the U.S. through Urdu language classes for children and adults, cultural events, films, and theatre, and engage diverse talent within the Houston community to create a cultural exchange for its audience.”
As per U.S. census data released in November 2015, Houstonians speak approximately 145 different languages at home, other than English. Out of these 145 languages spoken in Houston, “Urdu” is among Top 10. Large communities of Urdu speaking families and of Pakistani and Indian heritage living side by side with Hispanics, African Americans, and Caucasians, demand an exchange of cultural awareness to dispel the stereotypes often spread by irresponsible media.
Our programs include Urdu language classes, cultural events, theatrical plays, and independent film production.
Whereas a culture can not be authentically recreated outside of its context, it can be dramatized to bring that experience to a global audience, providing a wide lens into its beauty and diversity. Indus Arts Council achieves that by engaging diverse audience from its surrounding communities to perform theatrical plays in Urdu language and act in independent films. Children and adults learning Urdu at IAC’s language classes get a chance
to participate in the theatrical performances, organized at the end of each semester, bringing the learning of language, its usage and experience, full circle.
Indus Arts Council believes it can achieve its goals further by building symbiotic partnerships with other organization who strive to bring harmony through cultural knowledge.