Last week we hosted an exciting event for Marins first grade class. We live in a very non-ethnic place; and even though Marin has been largely welcomed, she is still obviously foreign and not well understood. We talked to her teacher about hosting an Ethiopia culture day which came together like this.
First, for about a half hour, we talked about our experiences in Ethiopia, showed a few photos, and displayed some of the items we brought home from Ethiopia. The kids asked lots of kid questions about climate, language, animals, typical daily activities, etc. They asked about life in a village vs. life in an orphanage. This gave Marin an opportunity to tell her story in her words with the safety of teachers and parents around her.
For recess, we led the class in some of the kids games and dances that they do at HH. Marins friends really enjoyed these.
Then we arranged for the head of the African Culture Museum to come in and present. He is a tribal chief from Nigeria who brought a large collection of ceremonial masks and drums. He told stories about the masks, then let the kids try them on and pose for photos. Then he taught a few drum rhythms and invited students to take turns accompanying him on other drums. The kids were having a ball.
Finally, we wrapped it up with a catered Ethiopian lunch from Asmara Restaurant. FYI, the chicken legs and injera were a smash, but everything else became leftovers (which we are still eating).
Here's the best part, Marin came home from school that day with a big manila envelope full of thank you notes written by each of her classmates. At dinner Marin read every one of them to us. The most common comment was "Ethiopia is so awesome!" and three of the boys asked Marin to be their girlfriend. Then we had to explain to Marin what a girlfriend is. It's a girl you play soccer with or ride bikes with, right?