International Day: when each country gets to share its cultural traditions, national costumes, folk music, local handcrafts, drink and food with the rest of the school community. The dynamics and the size of the stands change each year depending on the nationalities and the number of representatives in each class, but you can count on an exhilarating and unique experience every time.
As I walked through the gate a smiling principal welcomed me and I watched as each arriving child received their own "passport" full of questions. The answers were to be found at each country stand scattered throughout the two school buildings which then entitled them to a stamp in their passport.
Needless to say the Brazilian stand's reputation preceded them ... like every year. Their colourful and creative decorations top every other nation and of course the music as well as the Caipirinhas help their cause.
National flags and local colours were to be spotted everywhere. The Indian contingency was out in force with bright pink as were the Malay with green, yellow and red and the Americans with their stars and stipes. The Belgium and the Dutch teamed up and managed to get a stand out on the much-desired terrasse. Italy shared a room with Spain and the ambiance was animated to say the least. New Zealand and Australia were already well into party mode by noon and the French for some reason were presenting lemons along with their olives?!? Whatever happened to cheese and wine?
The Japanese stand were very polite and well-organised and the Koreans insisted I try some of their delicacies called Bibimbap (mixed rice).
I did taste some Swedish meatballs thinking of my friend who has moved earlier this year and who for years had headed this stand. I admired the Norwegians all dressed in their classic wool sweaters and had a chat with a charming man from Iceland.
Unfortunately there are no Swiss enrolled in the school therefore I had to forgo my ration of chocolate but I was thrilled to discover the West-Africans had decided to participate this year with a wonderfully decorated stand. Admiring the hand-dyed batiks hanging from the walls I watched the women moving gracefully to the background music. They introduced me to their customs while I was attempting to figure out how they had tied their different headgear, clearly an important part in Africa's fashion.
I have not mentioned all the countries present today, they were over 30, however, I will say that every year it is intoxicating to explore the world in half a day, while meeting new parents and seeing some warm, familiar faces that remind me of the "good old days" when my kids where still in Primary School.
This year rather than eat my way through International Day I drank my way around, starting with a Spanish Tinto de Verano, followed by a Brazilian Caipirinha, an Australian fruit punch, then a West African ginger juice and a Jasmin juice to end with an American Jello shot. I'd say it's time for a nap!
Drawings for the Passport Cover competition
Hey hey from Sweden (or was it Switzerland?!?... just kidding!!!)
Mexican beer bringing a bit of sunshine into your life
I have finally found an Argentinean empanadas supplier who does home deliveries!!!
When Ghana meets Mexico while eating a falafel
Who knew India recognizes 23 languages?
Just look at that head gear!
Ready for the Olympics
Delicate Japanese origami
Need to answer the question if you want a stamp in your passport
What IS this Malaysian animal?
It's a paaarty down under!
Adorable Chinese girl
Malaysia meets Spain for some handy craft
Colourful Costa Rica
Bienvenu en France
First Jello shot ever!