A Story of Light: Radical Generosity Giving Tuesday

Jasiah Noor, a regular 12-year-old from New York City, encountered a setback when she could not secure a spot in the busy NYC summer school program. With her parents at work, she faced the prospect of a lonely summer spent with just her iPad and a Komola Sundori staff from Sundarban, the cat Pierre, and the cat’s owner, 21-year-old sister, Fatiha Noor, as her company. She is daunted by the thought of days stretching ahead with little to do.


As special education teachers in the New York City public school system, Jasiah’s parents understand the importance of structured, supportive environments for children. Both mom and dad are deeply committed to their students, often working in summer programs at DOE, even during the summer months when most staffs are out of city on luxury vacation.

However, as dedicated as they are to their professional and environmental goals, they cannot help but worry about Jasiah. She didn’t get a spot in the overcrowded NYC summer school program this summer, leaving her at home alone with her iPad while both parents were in school. The city, struggling with resources, can only accommodate some children, and finding affordable alternatives for minions is challenging.

The thought of Jasiah spending her days isolated with only a screen troubles them. They fear the potential impacts on her mental health and social skills, knowing too well the importance of engagement and interaction for a child’s development.

Amid these concerns, an idea begins to take shape. They realize that the local dance academy, where Jasiah has been learning and thriving, could be the perfect place: a school away from school, an alternate summer school.

They discuss this possibility with Jasiah. She is initially reluctant but eventually sees the potential impact she could have. They envision Jasiah and other volunteer dancers leading therapeutic dance classes for families on Tuesday evenings. These sessions would keep disconnected youths engaged offline and provide a valuable service to the community, promoting physical health, emotional well-being, social interaction, and cultural heritage.

Mom and Dad are hopeful. They plan to collaborate with the dance academy. They see it as a way to ensure that Jasiah and other children like her have a safe, nurturing place to spend their time during summer, especially when traditional programs are unavailable. It’s also an opportunity to teach Jasiah about the importance of giving back to the community and using her skills to help others.

At first, Jasiah felt unsure, then skeptical. Volunteering at BAFA for Giving Tuesday seemed like a monumental task. She loved dancing, but teaching? That was a whole different story. The thought of leaving her cozy home to face the world was intimidating. Seeing her hesitation, her dad said, “There are no teachers, only mentors. Even the greatest teachers started as mentors. You might be too young to be a full-fledged teacher, but you can guide others, just like you helped Mom and Noi Apu with the Dhekir Nach. You’ve got this!”

Her dad, looking at her bright side, saw this as an opportunity. He knew Jasiah was good at dance, and her teacher praised her improvement. One evening, he reminded her, “Your last name, Noor, means light. Why not share that light with others? Remember Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. At 12 years old, he hadn’t invented it yet, but he would go on to light up the world. Before Edison, there wasn’t complete darkness—prophets enlightened hearts, but Edison lit up homes. Similarly, why not brighten someone else’s world again?”

“Think about it,” her dad continued. “Instead of being home all day long, you could meet friends offline and help with basic dance movements like Pranam based on individual abilities. Practice pranam, an essential dance element to express dignity for all people .”

Jasiah sighed. “I guess I have to say yes to Giving Tuesday in the name of generosity,” she told her reflection in the mirror, practicing her dance moves. Deep down, she knew her dad was right. She could make a real difference. She wished to mentor her dad and mom first, then her beloved cat, Pierre, and finally, her peers who also didn’t get a spot in summer school.

Despite her initial resistance, the idea began to grow on her. She envisioned a vibrant dance studio filled with laughter, music, and the joy of movement. However, there was a significant obstacle: the cost. The rent for the dance studio, personnel, and tuition fees for the students added up to $5,000 per month.

“Let’s start a campaign to raise funds,” her dad suggested. “to cover the logistics and offer stipends for Giving Tuesday participants to replace tuition that can benefit the operation of a nonprofit organization.”

Jasiah’s eyes lit up. The challenge excited her. She could use her passion for dance to foster youth development and support mental health in the community. She finds a new purpose for her summer.

As parents work extra to save for personal goals, they know their efforts contribute to a larger goal of youth development. The story resonates with many, especially those who understand the importance of keeping children engaged and active.

Their dedication to their family and their students reflects their deep sense of generosity and care. They believe in the power of education that transforms lives with the cornerstone of freedom. Education is life. By initiating this program with the dance academy, they hope to create a lasting support legacy, ensuring no child is left without a place to learn, grow, and shine.

Jasiah starts activities according to the lesson plan with her dad’s encouragement and support. Friends and the community come together with a shared vision of a dance studio that teaches dance, fosters youth development, and supports mental health.

The Giving Tuesday movement @BAFA aims to transform summer to spring in the lives of those. It’s their story of generosity.

A $50 donation provides one month of tuition for prospective program participants for the Giving Tuesday: Therapeutic Family Dance Classes.

1. New York City Department of Education. (2023). Summer School Program Overview. Retrieved from https://www.schools.nyc.gov/summer

2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Energy Savings from HVAC System Upgrades. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/energy/energy-savings-calculator

3. American Psychological Association. (2019). The Importance of Summer Learning Programs. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/education-career/k12/summer-learning

4. Dance/USA. (2022). The Benefits of Dance for Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.danceusa.org/benefits-dance-mental-health

5. New York City Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy and Programs. (2022). NYC Climate Action Plan. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sustainability/index.page

6. Children’s Defense Fund. (2023). Summer Learning Programs: Protecting Against Learning Loss. Retrieved from https://www.childrensdefense.org/summer-learning

7. National Endowment for the Arts. (2020). The Impact of the Arts on Community Health and Well-Being. Retrieved from https://www.arts.gov/impact

8. Harvard Graduate School of Education. (2021). The Role of Extracurricular Activities in Adolescent Development. Retrieved from https://www.gse.harvard.edu/extracurricular-activities-adolescent-development

Sample Dance Lesson Plan

 Objective: To engage students in a dance activity that promotes physical health, emotional expression, and cultural awareness through the traditional song of Dheki, highlighting themes of community and sharing.

Simple Stretches:

  – Neck rolls (1 minute)

  – Shoulder rolls (1 minute)

  – Arm stretches (1 minute)

  – Leg stretches (1 minute)

  – Light jumping jacks (1 minute)

Introduction to the Theme (5 minutes):

 Briefly explain the significance of Dheki, the traditional rice grinding machine used in Bangladeshi villages. Share the cultural context of the harvest season before winter and how it fosters a sense of community and sharing. Introduce the song of Dheki, highlighting the story about community spirit and shared celebrations.

Themed Dance Activities (25 minutes):

 Part 1: Rhythmic Movements (10 minutes)

    – Teach basic footwork by mimicking the movement of the Dheki and emphasizing the see-saw motion.

    – Encourage students to feel the rhythm and express the motion with their whole body.

 Part 2: Storytelling Through Dance (10 minutes)

    – Create a simple dance routine that tells the story of the harvest season.

    – Incorporate movements representing making food, sharing with the community, and celebrating together.

 Part 3: Collaborative Dance (5 minutes)

    – Divide students into small groups.

    – Have each group create a short dance segment that reflects the theme of sharing and community.

    – Encourage collaboration and creativity within each group.

Gentle Stretches (5 minutes):

  – Slow, calming stretches to relax the muscles.

  – Deep breathing exercises to help students wind down.

Group Discussion (5 minutes):

  – Sit in a circle and invite students to share their feelings about the dance activity.

  – Discuss the themes explored during the dance, focusing on the importance of community, sharing, and cultural traditions.

  – Encourage students to reflect on how they can apply these themes daily.

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