Despite turmoil and conflict affecting the world, unity and harmony can be found in something small. This was one of the main focusses of the International Day celebration recently held at Panaga School.
The event was packed with activities and games, aimed at bringing people together regardless of culture, traditions and heritage, providing opportunities to showcase and share their cultures with others in celebration of the resilience and strength of the human spirit.
At the celebration, more than 390 students checked out booths set up by parents and guardians from their respective countries, as they showcased traditional foods and drinks as well as cultural activities for the students to experience.
As a result, one of the most inspiring aspects of the celebration was the sense of unity that it created, as people from all walks of life came together to display diverse cultures as well as recognise the importance of cultural exchanges in promoting peace and understanding.
Principal Cindy bin Tahal explained that the International Day celebration is focussed on international mindedness.
“Panaga School follows an international curriculum, where international mindedness is a concept. That’s fundamental to our teaching and learning. We’re a diverse community; we have over 28 different nationalities of students at our school.”
The concept helps the students to forever grow and evolve as individuals. “As we learn more about the world, and the people in it, it is a concept that helps us to learn to celebrate who we are and where there are overlaps and differences with other cultural groups, we should acknowledge them and not be scared of but instead embracing and celebrating them,” she said.
The principal shared that building international mindedness for the school community has helped to showcase the various identities and cultures as they grow up, which also extends to Brunei Darussalam as the nation that they currently live in. “Brunei is the glue and the reason why we’re all here together,” she said.
She added that the concepts of home and host countries are important to help the children understand that while they do not necessarily have Bruneian nationality, they can come to see the Sultanate as their second home.
To achieve this, many of the booths set up were tended by the parents of children from various nationalities. “From performing arts, cultures, foods, flags, dances and more, it is a great opportunity to showcase and sample the many cultures around the world,” Cindy said.
The countries represented included Brunei, Canada, China, Columbia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkiye and Venezuela.
Booths featured interesting music instruments such as jal tarang the melodic percussion instrument that utilises water and traditional cuisines such as samosas from India and ontbijtkoek from the Netherlands.
Students were also seen enjoying a game called ayo from Nigeria, which is similar to the local traditional game congkak, and inuk shuk, which are stone landmarks used by the Inuits in Canada.
Cindy said, “We want to be highlight inclusivity, so events such as International Day are opportunities for the children to gain an international perspective by looking not only at their home countries but also at the host country of Brunei and countries where their friends come from.”