Tuesday, February 26, 2013

King's Birthday

The first week of having students at school culminated with a celebration for the King’s Birthday. At Gaselo HSS this is a full blown affair. The day before was spent rehearsing, setting up a tent with 6 postholes dug with only a ‘spud’ bar, planting a hundred or so flagpoles with those same digging bars, decorating an altar which included 108 butter lamps, putting 400 chairs out. Each student brought their chair from class so they knew exactly where to sit, in their chair.
Rehearsal day was cool and cloudy with a bit of rain in the afternoon. The following day dawned flawlessly blue, an auspicious day indeed. Purifying cedar smoke wafting over the courtyard as final preparations were made. The ceremony included the principal guest, many speeches, a section devoted to academic awards for students based on the results from the previous year with quite a few awards which was nice. Another large portion of the program was a cultural performance of song and dance performed by the students, both traditional and contemporary pieces were featured. Unbeknownst to me I was considered a guest and ushered to a front seat to enjoy the celebration. Ushered into the group lighting the butter lamps, and ushered into the final circle dance which is a traditional thank you. Fortunately the steps were pretty easy to pick up and I survived with only a moderate amount of bumbling, however it would have been good to have been let in on the idea during the practice run through the day before. All this did earn me an early spot in the lunch line, and true to form the lunch was a celebration as well. So, satisfyingly well fed and happy after a wonderful morning I was ready to set out for my holiday excursion to Gasa with other BCF teachers.

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