The Orientation Week in the last days has been as blast: Many new faces arrived, hundred new names had to be learned, we took the Firstyears all around Hong Kong and introduced them to LPC’s traditions and secrets. And how do we end such wonderful Orientation Weeks at Li Po Chun United World College every year? That’s right: with a special dinner and, of course, the legendary International Cultural Evening! Both of them were simply a m a z i n g – but let’s start at the beginning. The Special Dinner started, as usual at 6pm and lasted till around 7.30. We Secondyears had to leave after latest an hour in order to prepare the last details of the show, which would start at 8pm. Still, we had a lot of time to eat, chat and, as always, take a lot of pictures with each other! Even hours before, everybody was very excited already about the dinner, because all students were supposed to dine in their national costumes – cultural diversity was guaranteed!
I had thought about this tradition during the whole summer – not very excited by it, but rather worried. The ‘problem’ is, that Germany as we have it today, does not really have any national costumes anymore, especially after the country’s separation into two parts after Second World War. As a federal state, each of Germany’s sixteen Länder (“sub-countries”) now has its own traditions and costumes, and my state – Saxony – appears to not have the later. So what was I supposed to do? Wear a Dirndl, or Lederhosen? Even though those are the most known ‘national costumes’ of Germany, I refused to do so, as they both have their origin in Bavaria and thus would not represent my state. My one-week-trip toAmsterdam brought the solution to my eyes. On a market I discovered a fabric which was covered in a world-map pattern. It was simply perfect: Instead of a national costume, I would just have an international one! Back in Germany I desperately looked for a tailor, but couldn’t find any. I wanted a cocktail dress in a Qipao-Style, thus similar to the Chinese national costume. When I already considered sewing the dress myself, I finally found a shop called Myrelle in my home city. The tailor, Marina Deynega, normally sews ball and bride gowns, but she proposed to sew my special dress as well. It took her only two days, and the dress was finished four hours before my flight would take off. The efforts and troubles were worth it: many people congratulated me on my dress at the dinner and had a lot of fun looking for their country on my map dress. Luckily, nobody tried to mark their ‘favorite place’ with a pin, like you do it in GoogleEarth! The picture above shows me in the dress (due to the cold air conditioning I wore a thin black drapery around my shoulders) with Michael, my Co-year, standing next to me in his ‘national costume’ from the Pfalz – another region in Germany.
^ Great Britain (Yr1), Germany /Pfalz (Yr2), Spain (Yr2), Canada(Yr1)
The variety of international cultural costumes was overwhelming. There are huge differences in style and color: many national costumes are very colorful, shiny and pompous, especially in Southeast-Asia, while others are very simple, lacking all the shimmering attachments, for example those from Africa and the Middle-East. Some countries have the same problem as Germany and lack a unique, universal national costume: mainly the US, Great-Britain and some other European countries suffered from this dilemma. Yet, what do we have creativity for? Most of them just made up a costume! The atmosphere was very special: I had the feeling, that, for the first time in this week, the Firstyears and us Secondyears were actually united as one community, even though our differences in culture, religion and origin were revealed more than ever before – but maybe that was even the reason.
^ my roommates! me (Germany), Nancy (HK), Namgyal (Bhutan) & Catherine (HK)
Probably it is the fact, that we could all show off our national pride and wear our national and cultural costumes as a community and in peace, which made the dinner once again so wonderful: The whole world represented in a small canteen, eating food from different countries, laughing and chatting together – and no gathering could be any more peaceful. These are the moments were I see how powerful and successful the UWC movement is in achieving its aim of making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. The dinner was thus not only amazing because of the food – Raymond, the kitchen chief, really got us some marvelous delicacies! – but especially because of all the people there, celebrating together and making the event so special.
^ German power! Michael (left), Abraham (right) and me
As I said, we Secondyears had only one hour to eat and take pictures – and when the clock struck 7, we all silently disappeared to our blocks, grabbed high heals, costumes, black t-shirts and our flags and ran back to the courtyard. The grey, worn-out carpets were rolled out, flashlights were checked over and over again, the microphones stopped working and last instructions were given. Nervousness rose, excitement increased and when the first scene started shortly after 8, the welcoming applause by our Firstyears flooded our ears and hearts. This was the highlight of Orientation week. This was our show. And we rocked it.