American International School Day stretches across continents

On Friday 2nd March, The American International School, Muscat, held its annual International Day celebration on its 20th anniversary since the founding of the school in 1998. In his opening address the School Director, Mr Kevin Schafer, told the assembled community that it is the only nationality-based school in Muscat which includes “international” in its title, and that becomes truly astounding when you learn that TAISM hosts students from 61 nationalities.
The vast school green was filled with cultural stalls from many of the countries represented by the students, and many included delicious food prepared by their parents. There were satay sticks and nasi goreng (fried rice) from the Malaysian and Indonesian stalls, kimchi and sushi on the Korean table, Chinese spring rolls, Italian pizza, a Palestinian Wedding ceremony and Egyptian kibbeh, fatiya and kushari, Omani local breads, Spanish tortilla, sweet pastries from Germany and France, savoury pastries from Turkey and so many more. Feeling hungry? Then grab a plate of freshly prepared delicacies and head over to the Performance Stage for a show almost as diverse and rich as the gastronomy.
The afternoon was inaugurated with a warm welcome and a ‘Parade of Nations’ with children dressed beautifully in their national costumes from at least 30 countries. Apart from being cute and colourful, it was an eye-opener for just how many different nationals call Oman, “home”.
Hot on the heels of the glorious opening pageant came the Early Childhood students to sing “Hooray for the World” to a lively backing-track. Still in their national dress, their gestures were compelling and heart-warming. In complete contrast, the electric piano was wheeled to centre-stage for the very talented Dutch pianist, Sophia Frumau, to play an impressive Ragtime, “Stomping at the Waldorf” followed by a delightful ‘Sicilienne’. In a slick segue came dancers from the Indonesian ‘Kalimantan’ group who introduced their item, giving context to the hand-held props and dance style of “Giring-Giring”. It was lovely, with children of all ages performing the stylised moves.
Another solo spot saw the budding Tiago Almeida play his tenor saxophone to a jazz-band backing-track on two lively numbers, performed without a blink. Ending this set was the American Group singing and dancing along to the Beach Boys’ “Surfing USA”. It was stupendous, energetic and popular with the huge fan base supporting from the audience.
Part 2 started with some delightful Latin American music: First a Spanish song with guitar from Alfredo, and then an enticing, seductive Columbian-Venezuelan dance from two seniors, Natalia and Emilia, in ‘Cumbia’. What followed was arresting and quite a challenge: Slam poetry is not comfortable and the adult topics addressed by these senior girls lent a gravity to the proceedings. English teacher Ms Wood introduced the students from the High School Literary Magazine group and the concept, then Dvita Kapadia launched into comment on arranged marriage, women’s education and expectations. Nadine al Qaissy parried with comment on students who choose to wear hijab but are ostracised for it, and Conchita Isdiawan concluded with her experiences being that shy, bullied student. It was moving and reflected very grown-up thinking.
The final Act was drawing near as light was fading and the ‘Abada Oman Capoeira group’ demonstrated the Brazilian Martial Art form which requires good coordination and flexibility, with panache and speed. About 14 students took part along with their teacher, singer and musician. It was followed by the very excited Elementary School Indian Dance Group, supported by their families.
The hugely popular and crowd-drawing Muscat Brass had a 20-minute slot to present their finest arrangements, finally it was time for the TAISM Staff. “Let’s Naccho” provided a Bollywood Fusion Dance for teachers to strut their stuff – always a highlight of the International Day Stage – and then it was all over. The food had been eaten, dresses admired and rain averted. Happy, tired families could feel satisfied that theirs was the best school in Muscat to be in, on that day anyway!

Georgina Benison