To round out the year and the last of our Cultural Days for the season, we celebrated African Cultural Day! The event was held as part of our Senior Week festivities, just before Graduation, and it was a fantastic opportunity for all of our students to unwind and relax amidst the end of IB exams, packing and rather emotional goodbyes. Throughout the day, our community was treated to an array of delicious meals specially prepared by Cezar’s Kitchen (the lunch meal of pilaf rice and fried chicken was a particular hit!), which everyone enjoyed while listening to some classic music from the region. Then, as dusk settled, everyone came together to revel in an evening extravaganza show, complete with colourful dances, a fashion show, informative slideshows about the countries our African students are from, and a stereotype-busting session!
Our students actually started planning for the African Cultural Day in January, but due to a scheduling conflict, decided to postpone it to June. Since it was held so much later than all the other Cultural Days, they took great pains to hype it up to the school community. For example, they cooked some local snacks and surprised our staff in the office with a little tea break in May (a whole month before!) as a teaser to the food fair they eventually held on the day itself. They also performed some gut-busting dance moves during one assembly, to excited cheers. Needless to say, it all paid off, as there was a sizable crowd for their evening show!
Wesley (Class of 2019, South Sudan), shared with us that his favourite moment during the entire day was during the evening show, when they were attempting to teach several of their school-mates how to pronounce words from their local vernaculars. Most could not pronounce it, and ended up making funny sounds. This made him notice how unique everyone is, and how we should appreciate each and everyone’s culture. Even so, he acknowledged that there were several challenges that they faced when they first took on the task of putting together the event. For starters, it was the first ever African Cultural Day of its kind! However, they took the initiative to reach out to staff and faculty not just to attend the event, but also for help, and it turned out to be a really enjoyable undertaking.
He explains, “We came to notice how willing faculty were to help, and it also brought us together as a community. It was a really unique experience! There was a really high turnout rate — higher than what we had approximated — hence I believe that it was a really successful event. Perhaps next year, we could put together more activities and involve more people!”
“I am really happy with how the event turned out. It took us a lot of effort and work and it was definitely worth it. I loved the fashion show because it gave us the possibility to showcase African culture in a different way. Being born and raised in Italy, I have always been conflicted about my identity, and this was one of the first times in which I identified as African. It is an honor for me to represent my mother’s country and share the rich cultural heritage that Eritrea should be known more for.”
– Sara (Class of 2019, Italy)