Friday, November 14, 2008

Week 15: International Day

Nov 8 - 14, 08

Saturday was International Day at school – opening at the rather civilized time of 2 pm, giving everyone involved in setting up country stalls plenty of time to do it without having to sacrifice a sleep-in.
Bill didn’t need to do anything, although there aren’t a huge number of Brit’s in the school, they hadn’t asked for teacher help. Not so for me though, with no NZ families, it was left to the Kiwi teachers on the staff to organize a stall for the day. I begged out of manning the booth, claiming responsibility for taking yearbook photos, but I did my share by producing several sheets of NZ-themed stickers to be used on the kids “passports”, as well as helping with the set-up of the stall. There was quite a lot of “inherited” stuff – fabric, flags, pictures etc, so it was mostly a matter of setting things up. A couple of teachers had made and iced about 80 afgan biscuits to give away & several of the teachers had items they’d bought back for display (a toy pukeko, a Maori doll, a flax kit etc).

After getting everything ready, I left to take photos of the chaos of getting ready for the Parade of Nations which would start the day off. (Experience of many other International days has taught me that this is one of the most fraught times for kids). Sure enough, I saw lots of despairing parents trying to force their little ones into a costume they didn’t want to wear, and lots of unhappy kids. The PTA organize the whole day & I don’t think the mum who was trying to organize all the countries for the parade was having a good time! Typically people turned up well over half an hour later than they were supposed to, but the parade actually got started only about 15 minutes late. This is the first school where they have let EVERYONE who wants to be part of the parade – so many parents and babies took part also. It also meant that the biggest nationality groups had huge crowds of people in the parade, whereas other countries had as few as two people.

After the parade, which did a circuit of the main playground, there were dances by kids from different countries. It was obvious that some countries are fiercely competitive about this & everyone is trying very hard to outdo each other. Fortunately, most of the kids looked as if they were enjoying themselves. The dances themselves were great & many countries managed to get almost all the kids from that country on stage (which is a real achievement when the ages vary so much). Another unique (in my experience) tradition is that the dance acts were interspersed by national costume demonstrations where the MC read out the descriptions of the clothes, where they came from, what they were called & when they would be worn etc. The audience was great and it was much more interesting than it probably sounds.

The stalls from each country had food and drink to try & they all had stamps or stickers for the kids passports (which you can see around their necks in some of the photos). After the dances, it was time to check out all the stalls (& get a drink as it was a very hot afternoon). A local martial arts group (Capoeira which is Brazilian-African) gave a display and some of the smaller kids gave it a go. (Everything was very slow motion – I don’t know if this is normal or was just for the display). The final act was bizarre – it was a local Angolan singer and two dancers who were performing a local style that was frankly risqué. Certainly not the most appropriate of performances for a school function. The adult males seemed to love it, almost everyone else was a bit bemused by the whole thing.
The dancers were very scantily dressed, all three were tattooed, and the dancing involved lots of body shaking! They drew a big crowd, so maybe the singer was quite famous – I never caught her name of the style of dance.

Another surprise was that the day ended on time - around 5pm, with the clean-up happening very efficiently and quickly. We were happy to go home & crash.

Sunday was another lazy day with report writing and accompanying marking hanging over our heads. A couple of teachers were flying out early Monday morning for PYP course in Mumbai, India, so we wrote a long list of food & spices for one of them to try and get for us.

The week was very nicely broken up by Independence Day – a national holiday on Tuesday, so we had the day off. Of course, with all the procrastination of the weekend, we both spent the day in school marking & getting grades for reports. The rest of the week was insanely busy & frankly passed by in a whirl.

Bill had a students versus teachers soccer game after school on Friday, where the teachers whipped the students 5 – 2. Unfortunately, Bill fell & badly twisted his ankle during the game & then had to leave the game (he was playing on the teachers side) to coach the kids as they were behaving so badly. So he wasn’t particularly happy afterwards.

Friday evening all the teachers had been invited to the official opening of the new apartment block (that has 14 units for teachers). The show apartment was open for inspection & there were copious amounts of food and drinks at the pool for everyone. Bill & I ate lots of cheese (virtually the only vegetarian option) and then left for an early night.


Anonymous said...


Congratulations for your blog!

Sue said...

Thank you, it's nice to get some feedback.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue, you are an amazing photographer. I really enjoyed reading part of your blog...Have not gone back all the way.

I know you are in Luanda, but have you heard anything about living in Soyo? We are considering a job opportunity there and cant seem to find any info.

If you have any info could you kindly drop me a note at

Unknown said...

What an interesting life you lead! What wonderful experiences you live through! This adventurous spirit must be in your blood. I'm an avid reader of your blog,time permitting,and I also enjoy all your photos. You must go through some rough patches at times and you keep plugging... keep going! well done!