FOICR sponsored Balavikas program enables children to stay connected with their Indian culture and tradition. Balavikas kids also have the opportunity to participate in many cultural events sponsored by FOICR. We encourage all the FOICR member kids to actively participate in the classes and take advantage of this great program. The classes are coordinated by FOICR Youth and Youth Co-chairs members.

Following are the five groups of Balavikas classes for this year.

If you would like to learn more about Balavikas activities, please send an e-mail to

For details on the Balvikas classes and sign up click here

Balvikas attendance sheet click here.

Balvikas classes location:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Balavikas activities for Kids-------------------------------------------------------------

During the last few years, the kids in Balvikas have indulged in following activities :

· Classes about Indian Culture

· Classes about India as a Nation, its Symbols and Languages

· Classes about History of India

· Classes about Geography of Indian Subcontinent

· Introduction to Yoga

· Introduction to various Dance Forms

· Introduction to Indian Cooking

· Introduction to Indian Sports

· Playing traditional Indian games like Kho Kho and Kabaddi

· Participation in cultural events during Indian Republic Day celebrations, Fall and Spring Festivals

· Singing Indian and American National Anthems

· Participating in Parade.

· Discussions about famous Indian Personalities and their body of work.

· Introduction to Hindi Language

· Awareness about social / economic issues

· Volunteering activities to give back to the community.

-By Anjela Suri , Mar 2018

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Poem --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From a Kid's eye

Lots of Fun ..

Lots of Frolic ..

Lots of Dressing up ..

Lots of Dancing ..

Lots of Coloring ..

Lots of Yummy Treats ..

Lots of games ..

Lots of talking ..

And to Top It All - Lots of pampering from all Aunties.

That’s Balvikas !!!!

And you thought it was just -

Lots of classes …

We take it as Lots of Play Dates with our Buddies !!!

-By Anjela Suri , Jan 2018

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Balvikas Recipe for Smart Kids ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ingredients :

    • A pound of Knowledge

    • A handful of Traditions

    • A dash of Culture

    • A pinch of Kindness

    • A pint of Commitment

    • A spoonful of Values

    • Lots of Love

Method :

Use one good Mentor , to mix it all up with tender care and serve the community with a healthy dose of smart kids.

- By Anjela Suri , Jan 2018

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Testimonials --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Balvikas was always more than just something your parents made you go to. Balvikas is a community of families who work hard to make sure that all of us stay in tune with our culture and never forget our roots. I will always be grateful to Balvikas for providing me with an amazement and understanding of the culture that I am a part of.”

: Vignesh Das - Ex Balvikas Student (23 yrs)

Being involved with Balvikas was so rewarding and helped me to better understand and strengthen my roots to my culture and heritage. It can be challenging to maintain our understanding of Indian religion and culture growing up here in America, but Balvikas has given me the opportunity to learn more about my heritage while having tons of fun. Whether it was cooking Indian meals, learning new words in Hindi, or performing on stage to Bollywood music, I made some of my closest friends through Balvikas while learning more about my heritage which I am so proud of. Balvikas gave me the opportunity to share my culture with other members of the community and make life-long friendships and I am so grateful I was involved.”

: Chandini Reddi - Ex Balvikas Student (24 yrs)

“Can you imagine a tree without roots? No way, roots get the tree nutrients and help meet its needs, help it stand up straight and ground it. Balvikas makes up part of the roots of my life. Going to class every other Sunday was a stable and grounding force in my life - I am grateful for my parents who made it a priority to get me to class (though usually late ;) and the aunties and uncles who opened their homes to us rambunctious kids. Balvikas class met needs I didn’t even realize I had; learning about Indian history and cultural traditions, I was able to uncover my roots even an ocean away from my motherland. What I remember most about Balvikas was having a place where I was able to look around a room and see kids that looked like me. I didn’t feel ashamed to have oil in my hair or eat with my hands around them; I found great camaraderie with the peers I sat in a circle with every week. We formed a strong peer support group of shared experiences - these friendships helped shape my values and provided support to help me stand up tall in the good and bad times. These friendships definitely helped ground me and my experiences as a first generation Indian-American growing up in Iowa.

I am enriched from the knowledge I gained from Balvikas, I learned how to be prideful of my cultural background and I feel supported still by the community of friends & aunties & uncles I met through Balvikas. I am grateful for the roots Balvikas gave me and know I am the person I am today because of these experiences.”

: Madhana Pandian - Ex Balvikas Student (24 yrs)

“Balvikas was a place where I got to learn about who I am and what it means to be an Indian. Since the class included families from all over India, I not only learned more about my family’s culture, but we were able to learn about different Indian festivals, languages, and subcultures that I was not familiar with at all. But to me, the most important thing I got out of Balvikas, were friendships and memories that will last forever.

Sure school is cool, but Balvikas is a Blast ! “

: Shraddhesh Anavkar - Ex Balvikas Student (25 yrs)

“ Balvikas allowed me to be myself. It broadened my horizons and nurtured my love for the Indian culture, because I knew my Indian roots were not just a part of me but they were vital to who I was as a person. Balvikas is not a class, but rather a learning experience, and is for everybody regardless of your ethnic background or where you come from. It's about raising awareness of a culture that has brought so much light and color into this world.

But honestly, you need to figure out if Balvikas is right for you by first figuring out what is important to you. Do you have an inner urge to learn about a colorful country that's steeped in rich history, filled with the magic of song and dance and legends and folklore? Even on a simpler level, does a cup of chai make you smile or do Bollywood beats make your heart race? If so, dig deeper within yourself by experiencing the Balvikas journey.”

: Sarvesh Anavkar - Ex Balvikas Student (30 yrs)

“ Balvikas is not just about teaching the kids. It is about learning for all ages! Learning the different cultures and traditions of India. Spending our time with the kids discussing Indian history and culture we get to learn a lot ourselves. These little kids are the best teachers. Balvikas program is playing a very important role in knitting a close bond within the Indian community and making it stronger. We enjoy and value our association with Balvikas and would recommend everyone to benefit from this unique opportunity available to this city. “

: Pragya and Amit Saxena, Parents of Amya (11 yrs) and Pramit (7 yrs) - current Balvikas students

“Arushi loves performing on the stage. We are fortunate enough that FOICR gave her the opportunity to participate and perform on the stage endlessly and experience our great culture heritage.”

: Nivedita Bhat parent of Arushi ( 7 yrs)- current Balvikas Student

“Balvikas gives our kids the opportunity to stay connected to their Indian roots and also helps to foster confidence in them by giving them opportunities to perform before a wide audience of people. They interact with their peers during the classes and have meaningful social interactions in a fun way. We would strongly recommend Balvikas for the other kids.”

: Anjela and Amit Suri – Parents of Aditya ( 11 yrs) and Abhay ( 7 yrs) - current Balvikas students

“Balvikas was one of the most influential activities I participated in as a child. It not only taught me about my culture and mother country, but also helped me build relationships with people who are some of my closest friends today. I will always look back fondly on my time in Balvikas.”

: Ashwath Gunasekar - Ex Balvikas Student ( 26 yrs )

For as long as I can remember, I had attended Balvikas and participated in FOICR's cultural programs. Every Sunday I'd eagerly wait for class to spend time with my friends, learn about India, and eat some great snacks. It was amazing to feel so close to the Indian culture, even though I lived thousands of miles away. It is definitely not an opportunity that every Indian kid growing up in the U.S. gets and I feel so honored and grateful to have that be a big part of my life. It really shaped who I am today.”

: Abhinaya Gunasekar - Ex Balvikas Student ( 21 yrs )

“I volunteered as FOICR youth chair for about 5 years, and had the wonderful opportunity of leading the Balvikas program. I thoroughly enjoyed being a mentor, and helping kids learn about their Indian roots and traditions. We made Balvikas classes an entertaining and enriching experience for kids of all age groups by providing various hands on activities, group projects and game events. We taught children about various Indian festivals and spread the culture locally through several diversity programs held through Balvikas students. My own children benefited enormously from Balvikas. It was the only medium, kids had growing up together, to learn about their own identity and embrace it. ”

: Radhika Gunasekar ( Past FOICR Youth Chair and Balvikas Mentor )

“For smaller cities like Cedar Rapids, education wing of FOICR like Balvikas is vital for kids of Indian origin to learn about our culture and heritage. Kids don’t get to visit India often, so this form of education wing helps kids to bond with others, develop friendship in a fun and educative way. Mentors cover a wide variety of topics like festivals celebrated in India, geography, current affairs, holidays of India, etc. Appreciate all the volunteer mentors who take immense interest in our community. FOICR stays stronger and is able to grow because of a good program like Balvikas.”

: Anitha Gururaja - Ex Balvikas mentor