Recently when I was telling someone about this their comment was that was too much to ask. And it probably is. The high school I went to is less than a mile away. If they chose any of the other schools within our ISD system, they could even take a bus. But there is a big difference in their school than any in the neighborhood and yesterday I had a chance to witness it firsthand.
In our school district, you move to middle school when you are in 6th grade. 5th grade had been pretty miserable with both girls being bullied on a regular basis just because of their ethnicity. There were so many tears and it was so difficult for them. When we were faced with making a choice for 6th grade, I knew we had to do something different and a dear friend suggested I look for an International Baccalaureate schools. One school stood out due to its racial diversity. I know we were meant to be there because out of 2000 applicants, they could only accept 200 and we got in on our first try.
Each year this school celebrates the more than 52 countries represented by the student body with a whole week of festivities. The week kicks off with a World Walk. The students are encouraged to wear an outfit showcasing their heritage, and then they form a parade for the rest of the students and guests. This was the first year that both daughters decided to participate.
When I got to the school yesterday morning, the wind was quite gusty, there were intermittent showers, and it felt really cold. I had volunteered to help and was assigned to be a country escort. Pretty soon the students came pouring out of the building, stopping to pick up a flag and a sign for their countries. From there they lined up in alphabetical order, ready for the parade to start.
Each child stepped forth, proudly declaring their country's name, honored to be wearing the clothes of their homeland, when for so many, they have lost so much by leaving their war torn, divisive countries in hopes of finding a better life here. I watched as Egypt, lined up with Syria, who lined up with Afghanistan, then Pakistan, and then Iran and Iraq. Then Kenya, Eritrea, Cuba, Ghana, Bangladesh. Viet Nam, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Brazil, and Colombia. The list goes on and on, but what was consistent was the pride in their country, to be at a school that values and honors their heritage.
The band played, the choir sang, and then the procession began with a senior dressed as the Statue of Liberty leading the group. As we made our way along the route, the students and guests, waved and cheered when they saw their country.