Thursday, October 20, 2011
Celebrating Cultural Diversity
Today was a Kenyan national holiday, Mashugaa Day, formerly Kenyatta Day, for remembering the heroes who fought for independence and established this country. RVA takes the opportunity to celebrate "Multicultural Day", which is the 4th of July and Halloween and Thanksgiving all sort of rolled into one. Probably the highlight of the program was a traditional Korean Fan dance, performed by twenty or so young elementary-aged girls, only a fraction of whom were actually Korean. Imagine butterflies dancing ballet. The Parade of Flags: the students of RVA carry passports from over 30 countries. The student who has been at RVA the longest from each one is honored by carrying that country's flag to the front of the auditorium, and giving a greeting in the local language, while the audience cheers. It was pretty amazing to see the students transformed by their national costumes and languages, and to realize the richness of this place. USA, South Korea, and Kenya pretty much brought the house down. The language classes also come forward in groups and present a song, skit, reading, etc. in their language. Above you can see Acacia, Julia, and Caleb all looking quite animated while singing in Swahili. Caleb and his good friend Titus performed a humorous song, about being a "Mujungu" (foreigner) in Kenya. They sounded really good together, and the song was hilarious. If you use your imagination, you can see Jack in the back row far right with all the French classes singing "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" in French. After the program, the students divided into four teams (red, white, green, black the colors of the Kenyan flag) for relay-type games. Somehow the amazing food service coordinator Mrs. Janet Adkins manages a feast for all after the games, chicken and ribs and corn bread, eaten on the lawn in front of the school. Chatting after lunch. Grammy and Caleb in front of Kiambogo, the original RVA building. The entire student body lined up in the gym, mimicking the arrangement of colored stripes on the Kenyan flag. Not pictured: there was a girls' basketball game, where the jazz band played in all the intermissions and time outs, which felt very much like the pep rallies and games of my high school days. And the evening ended with fireworks as the stars came out over Upper Field. Real fireworks. Impressive popping sizzling exploding bursting colors. The entire school community was sitting in the bleachers, a boom box was blaring Souza marches amplified by a bull horn, and we oohed and ahhhed as the fireworks lit the sky. The theme of the day was God's Kingdom is here and includes all of us . . . it truly was a day to realize that in Heaven we'll be standing next to kids from Ethiopia and Brazil and China and the Netherlands, just like we were today.