About three weeks after the start of the 8 month semester, the Zwekabin Myay school held their opening ceremonies. Michelle and I had been absent for a week on our trip to Dawei, missing most of the preparations, and so were amazed by the spectacle that the students had put together.
A stage was built (and decorated) in the front of the school. The students built it by hand, entirely by themselves, out of bamboo. These kids can make anything from bamboo! They had a sound system (not made from bamboo), chairs set out for the audience, and an entire lunch (plus ice cream) for any and all of the guests. Most importantly, each student gave a short speech on something important to them. There was also singing and dancing.
This is a video of small excerpts of each speech (except one, sorry Win Tan!) This was the first time most of them had ever given a public speech in English and they all did really well, even with microphone issues!
The state in Myanmar where we lived is Karen (or Kayin) and most of the students are of Karen ethnicity. This is a traditional Karen dance, truly one of my favorite things!
Win Tan (the student whose speech was excluded from the video above) is really into freestyle dancing. He and another student, Shee Shee, put this little number together. Watch it. I have no explanation and didn’t quite catch the story that seems to be played out (or it’s moral), but I loved every moment of it!
Goofin’ on the stage
After lunch there was a lot of fooling around and impromptu dancing on the stage. This included the students having the idea to decorate me and Zaw Zaw Aung (the grammar teacher/my friend & roommate) with the flowers from the stage. They got really into it, with 3-4 students hovering over each of us with handfuls of flowers.
Later that afternoon, we all loaded onto motorbikes (and the 3-wheeler) to go about 30 minutes away to a football field for a match between current students/teachers and alumni (not American football, if you’re wondering). While waiting for all of the participants to arrive, Michelle taught a group to play volleyball. Many were convinced that using feet is a regular part of the rules, as in the local favorite sport, caneball (which is kind of like volleyball, but using anything but hands and arms).
Sad to say, the football match ended in victory for the alumni. Sadder for me, I fell, skinning both knees, within the first minute of the game. Lesson learned, I shouldn’t play football with 20 year olds!
On a more pleasant note, after the game the female students expressed their desire to also play football. The following week the boys began giving them lessons after daily classes in preparation for their first match. Score one tiny step towards gender equality!