Spirit week, talent show and softball tournament: Russian and Chinese rap anyone?

Aside from academics, one of the tasks of an international school is to provide social activities for the student body. In a city where there are few activities for middle and high schoolers, after school activities, sports teams and movie nights are some of the options the International School of Ouagadougou provides for its student body. Along with those activities, this week, ISO held spirit week, put on a talent show and hosted SOFANWET – Softball fanatics weekend tournament.

Six teams traveled from Niamey to compete with five local teams this past weekend. Both Jeremiah and Bruce played on separate teams. While most of the teams are dominated by American and Canadian players, one of the best teams has mainly Burkinabe players who have been playing softball for several years now. They are quite good and getting better all the time. Their strength is their ability to run around the bases like they were running the 100 yard dash! Bruce’s team was made up of folks who play for fun (as opposed to the competitive teams who play to win!) with some of the players recruited at the last-minute. They did not distinguish themselves. Jeremiah is part of the ISO school team, the Turtles (the school’s mascot because there are two giant turtles who live on the campus). They did very well as one of the youngest teams – all the players are in grades six to eight – beating the Peace Corps team and coming in third place. They lost to a team of men, some of them marines, who were able to hit the ball out of the park too many times. If these middle schoolers continue to play together for a few more years they will be a force to contend with!

The week before the softball tournament was spirit week at school. All the students from grades 6 to 12 were divided into teams and on Friday they competed in games designed to build team relations rather than test athletic skills. It was a good way for the students from different grades to interact. On Thursday afternoon at the talent show, each team presented a team cheer and a team mascot. Jeremiah’s team, the red team, chose “red bull” as their mascot. Deborah’s team chose the “blue troll”!

The talent show was a mix of singing, dancing and instrumental talents. The student body was very supportive, cheering on all the performers whether they were good or mediocre. There were no mocking laughs, just gasps of pleasure or more enthusiastic applause for the better performers. One of the most interesting acts was a combination of a Russian rapper and a Taiwanese rapper. Their act alternated between Russian and Chinese rap, transitioning from one language to the other without losing a beat. This is one of the things I love about international schools: where else could two students from such vastly different cultures and languages join on stage in a duo act? I continue to marvel at how our children are being exposed to people from around the world, learning to understand and accept differences as normal.

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