Friday, October 23, 2009

United Nations Assembly

Today's United Nations Assembly did not take place in New York under high security.

Instead, it was the gathering of approximately 450 students at school assembly for United Nations Day - as close to October 24 as they can get (pretty close this year). All students and staff are invited to wear their National Dress, Flag Colors or favorite Team jersey from their country.

Spur of the moment this morning, I decided I should go. The school assemblies are always fun and give the kids a great opportunity to develope their talents (children emcee, perform, present, etc... at all assemblies), celebrate events and develop confidence amongst their peers.

I arrived a few minutes late but knowing what it takes for them to seat 22 - 24 classes, I arrived well before the Principal opened the program. I looked for Kendra in the crowd and couldn't find her. I knew she'd be easy to spot and I looked for the tell-tale signs. No Kendra.

Because Kendra was being introduced! Introduced so she could 'introduce' the new German teacher (recently arrived) for her class. What a treat! She was just asked that morning so there was no prior warning. So glad I decided to go. As the Assemblies are "Student-driven", there were volunteers willing to present in various form, offerings from their home countries. For example:



Ghana: It was great to see all the kids from the different continents represented stand up: Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, South America and North America. Europe by far was the largest group standing. I don't think all the kids knew which group they were to stand with. I overheard a child when 'Africa' was called wonder if it was 'all of Africa' or 'South Africa.' And the North America group was quite small when I know there should have been more - I don't think some of them realize that Mexico, the United States and Canada comprise 'North America.'
Some of the girls really dressed in traditional costume: India, Africa, Eastern Europe (Romania) and Germany. Many of them had their colors painted on the face - like a football game.
What a great experience for them. They are all encouraged to maintain their cultural identity and there is such support from this school community. Bart & I both feel this has been a great opportunity for the girls as well as our family.

Can you see why I thought Kendra would be hard to miss?
Fun Fact: Switzerland joined the United Nations in 2002. It was a move of solidarity with other countries to promote peace and human rights - not a step away from their neutral status. They had otherwise provided political and financial support to the UN prior to their joining.
AND - the Swiss Flag is the only non-rectangular flag to fly at the UN. The Swiss Flag is square and allowed to fly at UN headquarters in it's original form. Believe it or not, this was a big matter of discussion.
Enjoy your weekend!

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