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Friday, October 19, 2012

Multicultural Celebration

(First, a thanks to the respondents regarding the blog below.  We have been pledged more than $2000 for the Needy Children's Fund, which should be very adequate for Baby A and Baby E.  Both are still quite sick, but we see some good and hopeful progress.  THANKS.)

On a different note, today is my one fully non-medical day in the week, and so I was able to attend RVA's annual Multicultural Day celebrating the diversity of countries and cultures represented in this amazing cross-roads.  Or perhaps it's not a different note at all, since Americans and other distant people are joining with a Kenyan hospital staff to assist babies in need.

I (mostly) love Multicultural Day.  Flags, costumes, music, fun.  The morning program culminates in the flags of each country represented in the student body being carried in by the kid with a passport from that place who has been at RVA the longest.  I should have counted as the alphabet of countries marched by, there must have been nearly 30, Australia, Brazil, Burundi . . . all the way to Zambia.  South Korea, USA, and Kenya have the biggest followings.  Though New Zealand and Rwanda made some spirited noise.  It's good to be reminded that a kid might sound American because of attending this school for many years, but actually be from Malaysia or Lesotho or the Netherlands or Canada.  Our team mates the Maras are an Irish/American couple, but as the first RVA students from the Republic of Ireland no flag had previously been purchased, a situation Ann will rectify by next year!
Following the ceremony and tea time (we are still quite Kenyan after all) there was a 5K One World Fun Run to raise money for AIDS orphans.  This year was professionally organized.  We had numbers.  There was a real start and finish line.  A crowd of cheerers.  Corporate sponsors that donated bottles of water.  Julia and Acacia took off on their own this year, and finished well.  They stuck together while I hung back gasping.  I appealed to the organizers for a category of "over-50 female who gave blood last week" but instead all over-18's were grouped as "adults".  Needless to say I didn't win any prizes.  A good number of people would have to go on furlough or sustain serious injuries for me to come close.  My goal was to survive, and at least I can say I did that, though I wasn't sure at some points I would.  I think I felt every inch of the 7200 foot altitude and the rocky 5 kilometer distance.

This evening there will be games (for boys, lamentably no girls) and then fireworks for all.  This day is placed to celebrate Kenya's independence, and has blossomed to include a celebration of all the nationalities at RVA.  It is the only school-day of the year that is fully a community event with activities and groups of chatting staff and food and sunshine.  It feels like a real summer-day holiday.

But for TCK-MK's, the day does have some angst.  Half my kids were born in Kenya and have lived more time here than America, but they are subtly reminded that they can not embrace a nationality that differs from their passport.  Julia wore an American cow-girl outfit for the morning and then changed into a Ugandan shirt for the afternoon.  Acacia wore Air Force garb (like me!) since Caleb is our main connection to full-fledged American patriotism . . but painted a South Sudan flag on her face. African kids at an American school need to hold onto their roots to preserve them, but that can be hard on the kids who FEEL African but LOOK American and end up on the outside of that.  

The good news is that the day ultimately celebrates the Kingdom of God, where all nations can be distinct yet united.  That paradox of belonging yet remaining individual is an essential truth of creation, of our relationship to God and each other, and one that we too often get wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uganda is high on my list of places to go!