Feminism | Posted by Kate S on 02/3/2010
International Night for Dummies
This post occurs at the same boarding school where girls have to wear pastel dresses for commencement. Ah, the bright future that lies ahead of us as the esteemed, Ivy-Leagued educated CEO’s wives…
Another tradition (among many) that irritates me is International Night. This is an evening event hosted by yours truly, ASB, where the student body celebrates its diversity through ethnic dinners, performances, and finally, dance. The motivation behind the event is truly commendable: a campus fraught with students from various regions around the world takes benefit of its diversity and celebrates it. However, when applied, it becomes a crow-pleaser—a victim of superficiality.
As an avid critic of school events, I have never attended this event since my freshmen year (a traumatizing event we won’t get to…) but in order to be a good friend, I decided to go since many of my friends were performing. What greeted me as I entered the supposed “microcosm of the world” were pathetic backdrops and amateur decorations: the Sri Lanka section had exotic drapes of different pastel-slash-neon colors and the China section had the famous lanterns. I don’t know a lot about the cultures represented last night, but I am pretty certain that the atmosphere was, at best, quasi. The next irritating aspect was the food. Each booth had catered food from decent restaurants around the campus, but an absence of truly representative food made the menus from each booths all identical.
After meandering around aimlessly, I finally sat down for the performances, completely unaware that I would be even more disturbed. There were some great moments: many student performers took their responsibilities seriously and maintained poise throughout the show. The Spanish folk song, Chinese traditional dance, and Bollywood dance were superb! The majority of performers, however, were giggling, indifferent, and ditzy. The girls in Chinese sword dance were giggling, desperate to make eye-contact with their man-friends in the audience; some of them looked like they didn’t want to be there (then why are you wasting my time?). The next was the Hawaiian hula. Strategically, they had the regular-hula-practitioner at the front to charm the audience, hoping that their inability to shake their pelvises would be undermined by the leader’s grace. But I saw through that.
First, the boys were not fully dressed: they were shirtless, as if to flaunt their pubescent sexuality and they had forgotten to tuck in their underpants (I never knew that hula dance outfits consisted of blue checkered underpants). Then the girls. Oh, how visible it was that they girls were lured by the revealing aspect of the hula outfit. Instead of paying attention to perfecting their dance moves, they were busy pulling their skirts up. But alas, this was only the beginning.
What followed was an Israeli hip-hop where the group’s mentality was that if you play an Israeli music despite the very-American sweatpants and very-American moves, the dance can be officially categorized as “Israeli.” Not only was the dance pathetic to look at (since physically-challenged person like I could imitate), but the attitude of the group, frankly, infuriated me. Girls stood with their hair down and flirted surreptitiously (but visibly) with their partners and the whole purpose of the dance was not in conveying the Israeli culture, but rather in presenting how popular they were in school.
Perhaps I was being too critical, but in my mind nothing about the evening was international—it was pathetic.. I commend the school’s efforts to take advantage of the diversity but it has clearly failed to add some gravity to the event. These are people’s cultures we are trying to understand through festivities. Chinese culture has more than Panda Express and the Israeli hip hop is not about the sweats. Not to mention the implicit gender discrepancies. It was so evident that the girls had joined to flaunt their bodies and boys to have access to them (I guess the need to flirt and mate is an international theme). The entirety of the evening undermined the richness of cultures and amplified how stupid my peers are.
My conclusion: there was a reason in never attending this event for the past three years.
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