One of the most valuable aspects of a good education is the opportunity for cross-cultural immersion and our annual International Week provides the best tool for this. During International Week, children are taken out of their comfort zones and persuaded to meet new people, experience new cultures and forge connections that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. All this is done without leaving the confines of the school. This year’s event, which happened between 18th and 22nd June, offered yet another chance to celebrate our diversity, embrace our common humanity and streamline efforts at nurturing internationally minded students.
Activities during the week culminated in an International Evening on Friday, 22nd June 2018, to which the MKV community was invited. The programme began at 6.00pm prompt and was, indeed, a trip around the world in just an hour. In keeping with the tradition of focusing on countries that are not represented at the school, different classes represented different countries and the children were unrecognizable in their costumes. We met some Italians in Sankofa, Nkyinkyim visited a Maasai Village in Kenya, Gye Nyame became Lagosians overnight and Nyansapo were Icelanders.
In Europe, we met our Italians at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most iconic monuments in the world. The boys wore stripped t-shirts with a pair of black trousers; the look was finished with a red scarf, a red sash and a faux moustache. The girls were immaculate in a white lacy top and a skirt in Italian colours. They entertained us with “Giro Giro Tondo”, an Italian number song, and shared some interesting facts about the tower. They danced the Tarantella, one of the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian music. Prior to the night, our Italians spent time researching the ingredients for authentic Italian cuisine such as Pizza, Focaccia, Pesto, Bruschetta, Pasta, and Risotto etc. They made Pizza and Tiramisu with two parents and had to plan and construct the tower of Pisa using Lego, Mobilo or magnetic squares.
From Europe, we made our way towards the East African country of Kenya where we interacted with the Maasai, a famous African ethnic group with a long preserved culture. They were wrapped in red sheets (shuka) and bedecked with beaded jewellery. The Maasai feature as tenacious warriors and red is believed to scare away lions. We had a sneak peak into traditional Maasai culture, hospitality, costumes, artefacts, and cuisine through the lenses of a Maasai family who were hosting two European tourists. These tourists participated in the Mombasa festival and experienced the Adamu, a traditional coming of age Maasai jumping dance to test the strength and endurance of a potential warrior. In this dance, the boys jump as high as possible to achieve a warrior status and the possibility of choosing the prettiest bride. They also learnt some interesting facts about Kenya and Swahili through “Jambo Bwana”, ("Hello Sir") a popular Kenyan song for children.
Still in Africa, we came westwards to Lagos in Nigeria, also referred to the Giant of Africa. Though English is the official language in Nigeria, Pidgin (an English-based creole language) is its real lingua franca. We met two market women dressed in Iro (a large wrapper tied around the waist), Buba (a loose-fitted blouse), Gele (a head tie) and Ikpele (a shawl strategically placed on the shoulder). These market women tried to persuade a tourist to buy their goods and immerse herself in Nigerian culture by learning Pidgin. The tourist in turn rewards their hospitality by inviting them to a party. At the party, we meet the man of the house dressed in Buba, (a shirt), Sokoto (a pair of trousers), Agbadah (a wide-sleeved robe worn over the shirt) and Fila (a hat) and his wife in a Yoruba costume. The party does not only showcase Nigeria’s finest fashion but also cuisine, music and dance.
Farther afield, a travel show on Iceland, a Nordic island country, which gave us itchy feet. Our Icelanders were immaculately dressed in traditional costume; the boys wore the Þjóðbúningur karl, (white long-sleeved shirts, a double-breasted vest worn over a pair of trousers with a silk kerchief around their necks) and the girl wore the Skautbúningur (a long black dress with beautiful embroidery at the hem and chest).
The show was interspersed with alluring commercials, particularly the sale of a tour package to the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), an elfinator for attracting elves, tickets to Bjork, one of Iceland’s top pop singers, final concert, weather forecast, among others. Apparently, Iceland is geologically and volcanically active (Eyjafyallajokul is Iceland’s oldest volcano) and it is teaming with glaciers, geysers, hot springs and staggering scenery that make the nature lover’s dreams come true. There was also a cookery show which showcased Icelandic delicacies such as fermented shark, lamb hot dog, fish stomach, fish jerky, blood pudding, cod tongue and hot spring rye bread. Icelandic culture is founded on its Scandinavian heritage and some enchanting reasons to visit Iceland include their myths and legends as well as the belief in elves, trolls and ghosts.
All too soon, the trip was over and we returned rather reluctantly to MKV as the whole school sang “Hello to all the Children of the World”, by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp. Truth be told, the children outdid themselves this year and it was such a colourful and magical night. Many thanks to all the families and staff who helped in many ways towards another successful evening.
Grazie!! Asante!! Þakka þér fyrir!!! Eseun, a dúpẹ́ gan-an ni!!!