In what will be considered as one of the most surreal nights I have experienced, in both my private and professional life, we danced.
Van and I took our seats and smiled at the children; looking out in particular for our grade 9 tutees whom we had come to know the best of the 200 children in the school. From the front on the lurid green plastic seats we waited for proceedings to begin. It had been organised entirely by the teaching staff of the school.
During one speech, grade 9 were invited up to the front of the hall. Two of them mustered the courage to come and speak personally with Van and I while the rest formed an orderly queue to shake our hands and thank us. This was highly reminiscent of my very first trip to the village when I was introduced to all of the students and they were given the opportunity to speak with me.
After about 1 hour and 6 speeches, our chair for the evening asked if we would like to dance and finish the evening in party mode. Looking at one another, Van and I nodded our accord silently, expecting everyone to get out of their place and join us in bopping along to the music. Instead Van and I danced alone, while around 200 people watched. Eventually Grade 9 were coerced into dancing. It was a memorable evening that ended with lots of jumping, spinning and twirling around.
NEH Director of Operations and Teacher Trainer