“Who are those energetic humans with the long colorful skirts?” a confused student asks.
“Oh, it’s some Latin American thing,” a slightly less confused student replies.
“What’s it called?”
“Why are those blindfolded humans endangering their feet with the sticks? Jumping over at the last second?”
“I don’t know, as long as none of them get squashed.”
“And there’s supposed to be a student in a lion/dragon/or other suit chasing another person in a dog suit banging on a metal bowl?”
To some students at the annual International Food Fair (IFF) assembly in the gym in the first week of February, watching Sunny Hills’ diverse group of culture clubs display their heritage through song and dance is a curious affair.
Because the history and tradition behind these presentations are never explained, the audience is left baffled though highly entertained. The name, history and meaning should be included along with the performances — even if it’s a short blip of information — to establish IFF as a learning experience also.
Latino Club’s “long colorful skirt” dance, for example, is the folklorico style from Sinaloa, Mexico, a club member explained. Even if students don’t remember the name, these organizations should consider introducing their traditions through the PA system in the gym before their performance.
And the stick dance is tinikling, Filipino for “bamboo dance,” Philippine’s national dance, a Bayanihan Club member said.
A Sept. 1, 2010, article published in Asian Avenue Magazine explains the movements with the person jumping in between two large sticks as originating from “the 1500s when the Spaniards conquered the Philippines. … The dance has also been said to have derived from a punishment that the Spaniards practiced.
“Those who worked too slowly in the fields would be forced to stand between two bamboo poles that banged against their ankles. They would jump to avoid the poles, giving them the appearance of a heron.”
That sounds like it’s worth explaining to a 21st-century audience of tweeters and social media users.
IFF organizers and school officials might have concerns about taking up more time during the assembly for each group to talk about the cultural significance of its performance, especially since we have so many to watch in less than an hour’s time. If that’s the case, leaders of clubs putting on a routine at the assembly or selling food during lunch should consider having announcements made during Period 2 in the week of IFF that explain the traditions of what Lancers will be seeing.
Or, clubs and parent groups selling food during lunch can include some fliers to pass out or posters around their tables that explain the background of how that particular meal became part of their culture.
Even if none of these suggestions are acted upon, students are always welcome to do their own research on the performances seen and food items offered at IFF. It wouldn’t hurt to use the well-provided, district-issued free Chromebook and do a Google search or even one’s own smartphone with a simple phrase like, “Hey Siri, what is …. ?” That’s knowledge worth consuming.