Despite the impact of Covid-19, the annual Festival of Cultures, which usually happens in Term 2 went ahead in Week 6 of Term 3.
Because Hawke’s Bay was under Level 2 restrictions at the time, the festival ran in a somewhat modified format. It was an opportunity for staff and students to dress up in their favourite cultural costumes for the day and there was an amazing array of attire on display.
Without the usual international snacks provided by our Year 10 Food Technology students, chef Nick and his kitchen team put on a wonderful international menu for the whole week, covering food from Thailand, China, Malaysia, Italy, England, Japan, and Korea.
Emma Jackson and Point Techathong, as Student Ambassadors, organised a dumpling cooking session where students learned how to make Chinese dumplings together. The girls who participated enjoyed engaging with one another as they tackled the dumpling recipes, cooking and eating together. It was a great opportunity to foster some new friendships while sharing a culinary experience.
The highlight of the day was the lunchtime show in the hall. Staff and students were treated to an hour of amazing cultural performances (and some quirky jokes from our MC, Maia Briggs).
The Kapa Haka group opened the show with Ka Pioioi E, a song written by Kereopa Ratapu about coming home to his family after serving with the New Zealand Army in the 1980s. Everyone was immediately drawn into the sweet melody.
Liberty Jackson (Year 11) and Lucy Simmons (Year 8) produced an energetic display of Highland dance to the sound of bagpipes, with many rhythmic jumps, pointy toes and gracious arm movements. This was followed by Sophie Westwood (Year 8) dressed in a French costume, who played a French melody on the flute.
Learning about other cultures does not stop at history and tradition. It is just as important to know about modern trends. Year 11 girls Cherry Pang, Marie Cheng and Harriet Wong shared with us a popular Cantonese song titled ‘3AM’ by Hong Kong artist AGA. Then Phing Srinutapong and Jah Chana (Year 10) with Point Techathong (Year 13) showed us the process of weaving silk in a traditional dance choreographed in 1990 to celebrate the Thai Queen’s 60th birthday.
It was astonishing to realise how many talented dancers we have in the Woodford House family among which were Year 12 students Amelia Dear, Noreen Mnyanyi, Hyewon Kim and Cherry Pang (Year 11). The girls formed a truly international hip-hop group called ‘Dancy’ and performed to a song by Rhianna. It really got the crowd going.
We then had another modern cultural piano performance of the piece, ‘Tang li jian xue’ by Zhi Qian (Year 11) in her Chinese school uniform. Continuing with the cultural theme, Daisy Ding and Annie Wang (Year 10) took us back in time with an elegant Chinese traditional dance telling a love story called ‘Yan yu xing zhou’ which translates into ‘Rowing boat in the misty rain’.
The penultimate performance was by Miharu Nagata (Year 11) with her soulful rendition of the song ‘Idea’ by Gen Hoshino, delivering a message that being creative with ideas can overcome even the hardest time in life.
The hip-hop dancers were up again in the spectacular finale with a K-pop dance ‘Got your love’, this time joined by Harriet Wong. They concluded the show with a rain of lollipops, which is the name of their troupe.
Our Festival of Cultures is usually a chance for all of us to showcase the many precious cultures in the world and celebrate the diversity we have in our Woodford House community. This year, it also served as a celebration of happiness and togetherness for staff and students as we navigate the global pandemic.
Gabrielle Nguyen, Director of Global Education