It was UN Day at my school last week, which means dressing up, eating great food and doing awesome workshops. No, I didn’t wear the floral shirt, but it did make an appearance at the Kemang V Residence Street Party last Saturday. However, I did wear my wedding/fancy dance clothes (see “A Timeline of Dhaka Memories in Photographs)with the addition of my plaid bunnet, and I looked as dapper as always. The day started off with SLA, which is basically a period where you do homework. We had a mini-banquet of international food. There were brownies (America), pepernoten (mini cinnamon biscuits, the Netherlands), lemper (chicken wrapped in sweet sticky rice, Indonesia) and butter tart squares (Canada). My teacher, Mr Hara, brought in natto, fermented soybeans mixed with Japanese mustard and fried onions. I was the only one who tried it. At first it tasted like weird cheese, which was okay, but then I tried to swallow. When my throat blocked up I knew I needed to get it out of my system. I had to make a mad dash for the bathroom to spit it out. Yikes. I cleansed my mouth with brownies while watching other members of my class give presentations about their home countries.
After that, I went to my workshop. I was doing the Kiwi Kapahaka workshop with my friend Jao Lok. The workshop was run by some of the Kiwi teachers around the school. We first learned a traditional game called tī rākau, literally meaning ‘the sticks’. The rākau are banged on the ground, flipped and thrown in between a partner. SUPER fun, except Jao Lok kept on dropping his. We also made poi, which are like balls on strings. We tried them out, but they are actually really hard to use, so we just went back to the rākau. We did synchronised banging and throwing along to a traditional song, and Jao Lok and I were pretty good!
After that, Jao Lok and I met up with Ethan and Nathan (my two other friends), and we went to the FAT (Fine Arts Theatre). We took the seats way up at the top, literally the best seats in the house. The head of JIS, Mr Carr, officially opened the assembly, and the on with the show it was! The first set of performances were mostly by special-needs children that the school works with: one group performed angklung (an ensemble of bamboo instruments), and another performed a traditional Indonesian dance. Both acts were awesome and entertaining.
Then for the food! A large part of UN Day is parents coming into school and cooking food from their home countries. There were about 30 stalls dotted around the campus, and all were available for sampling! As if that wasn’t enough, you had an 1 hour and 15 minutes to just wander around eating. Jao Lok and I ate loads. I had some paneer masala and roti from the Indian stall, a cinnamon bun from the Norwegian stall and, of course, maple snow from the Canadian stall. I also had a Malaysian version of mie goreng udang, but with flat noodles instead of the usual noodles, cooked by Jao Lok’s mother. All of that washed down with some orange juice made for an awesome meal. What was a bit of a shame (I thought) was the amount of people flocking to the American stall, as opposed to getting awesome food from loads of other interesting countries. Ah well.
After that, it was back to the FAT, minus Jao Lok (he was in a performance so had to prepare). After getting settled, the school band (with a certain 14-year old Malaysian on tenor sax) played Olympiana as the flag-bearers came on. It was a very moving sight, and all 54 countries that JIS students come from were represented. I gave a big cheer for Canada and the UK. After that were the performances of the Country Clubs. The Indian Club did a huge synchronised dance, as did the Latino Club. The Korean Club did a K-Pop dance and desk drumming (didn’t know that was a thing) and the Chinese Club did a short dance-based play. Mr Hara’s Japanese Club did a synchronised dance, and the Filipino Club played music. After a closing speech from Mr Clark, the head of High School, we were dismissed early at 2:35pm.
Sitting on the bus and sweating like mad, I thought how awesome the day had been. JIS UN Day brought together the whole high school. For a day, there were no social boundaries, and it was a day spent celebrating a school of loads of nationalities. The motto of Indonesia is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning ‘Unity in Diversity’. There couldn’t be a better statement to describe JIS.