Yesterday I attended the American International School of Dhaka’s elementary-school assembly. These take place first thing in the morning once or twice a month. Part of the assembly was a thank-you for my visit; two students presented me with a beautiful gift: a triple strand of white and gray pearls with matching earrings! More pearls, hurrah! (My Korean name, ‘Myung-gin’, roughly translates to ‘precious pearl’ or ‘shining jewel’, so I’ve always been partial to pearls.)
But it was the rest of the assembly that most impressed me. As students filed in, the student rock band Checkmates played (electric guitar, bass, drums). The cast of the school play ‘Alice in Wonderland’ sang a song (they sounded great, and I hope they break a leg when they perform next week!). This was followed by the regular features of the assembly:
–Students whose birthday is in March came to the stage. The whole school sang a lively rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, with ‘cha-cha-chas’ and dancing interspersed. Each birthday boy or girl got a pencil.
–One class was recognized for their good behavior (or performance or sportsmanship etc). They took possession of the school mascot, a huge stuffed tiger:
Elementary school principal Lara Manasfi waiting to present the tiger…
…to representatives of Mr. Taylor’s first-grade class, this month’s winners.
–And finally, my favorite part of the assembly. Because of the nature of the school’s population, with parents who work for NGOs and embassies, students at AISD come and go more often than at local schools. When students leave, they are honored at the assembly. Classmates prepare a scrapbook of letters and memories, and some of the letters are read aloud to the whole school. Yesterday three students were recognized, and their classmates’ remarks were simple and heartfelt.
The girl in red at far left; the boy in yellow, center (who’s looking at his scrapbook); and the boy in white at right are the students leaving the school; they listen while their classmates honor them.
This assembly helps create a wonderful sense of community. I’m so glad I got to attend.
Today, last day in Dhaka. Flying out tonight…getting ready for the thirty hours to be spent in transit. Please send good-travel-karma vibes my way…