Over 750 participants registered for the 43rd Annual Conference on South Asia this year and there were more than 120 scholarly panels organized. The event took place in Madison, Wisconsin October 16th through 19th this year and the work of the Foundation was featured during three separate events. On both Friday and Saturday, during the noon hour break, we presented open showings of selected animated episodes from the Ponnivala video series. In addition, a two hour roundtable thoroughly discussed various approaches used, so far, to teach The Legend of Ponnivala story.
Two university Professors, Ann Gold and Jeffery Brackett compared their individual uses of this unique material in introductory college courses focused on India. This conversation was greatly enhanced by the contribution of a Primary School teacher from Toronto, Mr. Parthi Kandavel. He has used the 13 hour video series that tells the story in full, in both a sixth grade class (taught during 2012-13) and in his third grade class (taught during 2013-14). Because the idea of teaching this kind of material at the primary school level was very novel for conference’s university participants, Mr. Kandavel’s comments (supplied via a short homemade video – because he could not be personally present) held the audience’s rapt attention. Comments from Mr. Kandavel’s sixth grade students, also captured on video, provided thoughtful reactions to this experimental teaching unit. All-in-all, The Legend of Ponnivala enjoyed a significant presence at the conference this year and its core concepts made for plenty of discussion plus a ton of positive instructor feedback.
Since the conference we have had several positive emails about the event, including this one from an advanced Ph.D. student who flew all the way from Jerusalem for this conference:
“I would like to thank you for sharing your project of “The Legend of Ponnivala.” It is a very effective (and aesthetic) method of drawing attention to this rich and interesting text. I believe it should enter the list of materials taught in our department in Jerusalem.”
Another advanced US-based scholar wrote to us: “I appreciated your special events. Your epic certainly merited the double session. Congratulations on work well done and I assume you will continue with the same focus…..”