School Community Celebrates International Week

by Shannon Rowan, Director of International Student Programs

Each year, I work collaboratively with students and the Humanities Department to brainstorm and plan events, activities, and menus that celebrate the rich diversity and unique perspectives of our community. While I was thinking about this year’s celebration, I came across a Bioneers podcast titled “Circles of Concern.”  While listening to this podcast, I was reminded that in nature, the edges where diverse ecosystems meet are the source of greatest fertility and novelty.  The more diversity, the more stability, innovation, and resilience. The same is true in societies and, from my experience, at Besant Hill School.  This year’s International Week theme took a cue from nature.  Since we are a community rich in diverse perspectives and experiences, it seemed only fitting that we create activities and events in which all our cultural perspectives could be shared and celebrated.

The week kicked off with an event that was both curricular and auxiliary.  Each student and faculty member reflected on what aspects of their culture have influenced their perspective and then shared those influences while walking the Cultural Catwalk.  The result was a creative storm of political, social, religious, and artistic cultural influences that have impacted our community of budding global citizens.  This kick-off activity was the first time in the history of the school where every student and faculty member walked the stage sharing personal and cultural nuances that were both amusing and informative.

Our cultural renaissance was further enriched on Wednesday with a stunning Performing Arts Department showcase of music, dance, poetry, pop-culture, and prayer from across the globe. The Wednesday assembly revealed traditional talents of our students from Malaysia, China, Burkina Faso, Panama, Kuwait, Korea, and America.

One of International Week’s treasures is the Thursday language class. Our beloved Spanish instructor, Nestor, spends weeks preparing student volunteers to teach lessons on a topic of their choice.  This year, students rallied around food and taught the names of fruits and vegetables in Yoruba, Korean, Arabic, Hungarian, French, Mandarin, Serbian, Spanish, and Ukrainian.

Voltaire wrote, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” Though our culminating all-school dance activity was almost canceled due to the storm that caused school to close, we gathered the following Monday for one last community celebration of dance.  Led by our very own Dan Call, students learned and practiced a barn-style version of the Virginia Reel.  It was a downright hootenanny and wonderful finale to International Week.