International Day celebrates global cultures at a local level
International Day is a tradition at Abbotsleigh, held every two years and on United Nations Day. Started some years ago by a previous Head of the Senior School, it aims to recognise and honour the diverse cultures represented both here at Abbotsleigh and in the wider Australian community.
This year we had a wonderful range of performances ranging from the ELC to Year 12. Even a staff member, Dr Keryn Carter, danced the flamenco! The ELC sang songs in an Aboriginal dialect and another in several European languages . Year 2 performed a musical item combining their French skills and xylophone prowess.
We always have a performance from the Knox Grammar Pipes and Drums band, a great favourite with the Abbotsleigh girls, whose bagpipe tunes added a Scottish flavour to the assembly.
The Latin Selective dance group also featured, dancing an entertaining Latin number. Many cultures were showcased during the assembly – from Russian to French to Thai to Indian and several music ensembles added an international flavour as well. Year 5 and 6 finished the program with Chinese songs and rhymes and many of the audience joined in, remembering the songs from when they were in Years 5 and 6 Chinese classes.
Our guest speaker, Ms Kirsten McKnight (AOG 1998), spoke about her International career, which was kick-started by her time at Abbotsleigh where she learned French and German. After studying and living in several overseas countries she now is a practising lawyer, living in Sydney with her French husband and children. Her message about overseas opportunities was appropriate to the Abbotsleigh audience, who themselves may become global citizens.
The final song 'We Are Australian' was sung by all during the flag parade. This performance is also a tradition at Abbotsleigh; Year 8 students proudly carry the flags of the nations of all Abbotsleigh students, past and present.
International Day provides a forum for our girls to show their cultures, their skills and their passions – and their classmates often see another side to them that they had never seen before. It is most heart-warming to see the pride with which these students present their cultural heritage. The International Day assembly is so much more than just great entertainment – it is a way of recognising the cultures and passions of our students and honouring different cultures.