Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quand on chant, on ne bouge pas.

Amadou, quand on chant, on ne bouge pas.

"Amadou, when we sing, we don't move." These were the first words out of the master of ceremony's mouth as the last strains of the Cameroonian national anthem faded out, and they were directed at the energetic 5 year old standing in the third row. You see, during the national anthem, this young man had been unable to contain his enthusiasm and made it known by walking up to the front row and vigorously tapping the person sitting at the end of it. Thus began the graduation ceremony for the 50 or so paper crown-adorned nursery school students finishing the 2009 school year. I couldn't help laughing at this start, because I can so clearly picture my own mother admonishing one of her energetic young students in exactly the same way.

And in many ways this ceremony definitely proved that some kid behaviors are 100% universal. For the next 75 minutes or so I watched 5 and 6 year olds perform songs explaining the days of the week and the months of the year (in French AND English!), introducing themselves, reciting speeches about family and school, playing games like musical chairs and engaging in contests to see who could eat the fastest and which young man could put his shirt on and button it up most quickly (no contest actually, as the second place contestant couldn't even get his first button done.) And of course plenty of 'bouging' despite the instructions of the principal. It was a really fun and funny afternoon, from start to finish. Before the ceremony started I got to watch the graduates arriving with their families and it was fun to watch the kids try to rig their seating arrangements at the front of the crowd.

While so much of the ceremony could have taken place in any nursery school back home, a few elements did remind me where I actually was. These were the skits presented on HIV/AIDS and family planning, and hearing 5 year olds telling one another to practice abstinence, be faithful or use condoms was certainly something else. The kids seemed to love acting out the family planning skit, as most of them got to be kids, coming before their mother and father with the newest crying addition to the family to ask for food, for money for school fees, for medicine for a sick stomach. Who knows how much of either message registered with the kids or the audience, but it sure was a reality-check!

This was definitely one of the most fun/interesting graduations I've attended in a long time (my own included), perhaps in no small part due to the fact that the stars of the show had an even shorter attention span than I did, making the last 10 minutes of prize presentations a near free-for-all. I found myself thinking back fondly to the days when I performed “Shoo fly, don't bother me” and swung fans at my kindergarten classmates on the stage at Garden Street. That would probably have been right up my pal Amadou's alley.


Ann Marie Farrell said...

Hey Katie,

Welcome to my world!!! I bet being in the audience just watching was more fun for you than for the teacher. The pride at the end of the school year though is the special payoff for the teacher. I really smiled and pictured the whole ceremony as I was reading your blog. Yes, some kids' behaviors are indeed universal. Thanks for making me smile! Love you lots, Mom

John said...

Thanks Katy. I'm smiling too, along with my little sister.

I really enjoy reading and re-rereading your blog.

You sound like you are really enjoying yourself.

Stay well.

Love, Uncle John