Friday, March 18, 2011

Multicultural Day

I talk a lot about how much I hate subbing - because most of the time, these days, I do.

There are notable exceptions, though. I've been privileged to spend an enormous amount of time in the Learning Center at Alta Vista School, working with some very special 3rd through 5th graders. Then, there are the Dance Classes at North (or any of the Arts classes at North - I love the kids at that school).

Today was one of those good days. :)

I spent the day in the drama classes at North, and SUPRISE! - it was Multicultural Assembly Day. This is the third year in a row that I've subbed at North on a day where they've had their Multicultural Assembly. As it has affected me in years past, I was totally moved by the heart and work put into it by at least one hundred students.

They volunteer their time to create and/or learn cultural traditions (dances, drums, songs) to represent their own (and other!) cultures. Today, they represented the cultures and traditions of the USA, Vietnam, Korea, Argentina, Mexico, Hawaii, the Polynesian Islands, France, India, Pakistan, Thailand, and most poignantly, Japan. There were so many countries represented, that I feel like I'm missing a few! (Just to riff on Japan for a moment - the sheer pride in the faces of these young people as they represented their heritage, knowing that many of them likely have family members stuck in the nightmare overseas, brought me to tears.)

From a professional perspective, the students are not all be the best dancers, and certainly most of the pieces could have used some extra cleaning and more rehearsal time. That's not what it was about, though. It was about representing and respecting the cultures from whence all of these students came. And when it comes down to it, I've always been more moved by work that comes from the heart than from a purely technical place, anyhow.

In an age where all we want is the next big thing, the next toy, where we spend all of our time communicating not with each other but with our devices, where we're always looking forward and refusing to look back, this is saying something. And it gives me hope.

You know what else gives me hope? This year's special guests were active members of the military. Before they entered, the Activities Director asked the students gathered in the gym to raise their hands if they had someone in their immediate family or a close friend serving overseas. 1/3 of the students raised their hands. And when those military men walked into that gym, the student body stood on its feet and applauded with no prompting from staff or faculty.

That's encouraging! I am so often jaded by this next generation, and have been heard to say after a particularly bad day of subbing that "If they are the future of our country, that I'm moving to Europe".

But sometimes, oh sometimes, I feel a great deal of hope.

So yes, there are good days in education.

With that, let me just say that I'm still counting down to my last day before we head out for six months. Two days of subbing left and I'm free until October!

1 comment:

  1. This makes me happy. I've always loved multicultural day too :) It's good to know that there is hope with this generation of kids because sometimes it is hard to see. Thanks for the post!