Turn up the music!
By Shaan Bajaj
Wellington College International School Bangkok hosted a ‘Bollywood Bonanza’ dance performance on the 6th of May as part of their ‘Discover India’ week. Although the United Kingdom and India share a complex history, the British school curriculum has not actively included too much about the culture of the Indian subcontinent in the context of education.
Therefore, to create a more inclusive school environment and to take into consideration the institution’s geographical location in Asia, Wellington College International School Bangkok dedicated an entire week to studying the Indian subcontinent; including its major religions, social culture, music, art, and its independence movements. The curriculum was designed by the Senior Leadership Team and led by Katie Byrne, Deputy Head of Junior School. During my visit, I was informed that at Wellington, inclusivity is one of their key values, and this is a great example of this value in practice.
As I entered the school on Friday, marigold flowers and Indian-inspired décor greeted me as faint Bollywood music drifted through the entrance building and children dressed in traditional lehengas and kurtas ran around the school grounds with their bangles jingling. While the teachers, who were also in traditional attire from the region, guided them to the auditorium.
Before sitting down to watch the performance, I met three parents who acted as consultants for the event to ensure the programme was as authentic as possible. The first, Juby Scammells spoke to me about the complexities of raising third-culture kids and keeping them connected to their roots. As a third-culture kid myself, I definitely related to the feeling of not aligning with just one nation or culture. Hannah Rachel Mammen and Deepthy Saiju also agreed with the sentiment, and emphasised how happy they were to be able to send their children to a school where their culture was accepted and celebrated.
As I entered the auditorium, classic Bollywood film posters welcomed me, increasing my excitement to watch the Junior School perform. Once everyone took their seats in line with ongoing COVID-19 protocols, the children of Year 3, 4, 5 and 6 took turns performing dances to Bollywood hits like like “Saki Saki”, “Jai Ho”, “Badri Ki Dulhania” and “All Izz Well”. As the children enthusiastically went through the choreography, their dedication to learning the Bollywood dance-style was very apparent.
After the performance, Hannah Jeffs, Head of Junior School, stepped onto the stage to thank everyone. She also presented Nicola Carzana, PE teacher and Senior School House Tutor, and Grace Collins, Junior School Class Teacher, with flower bouquets as a token of appreciation for choreographing the performances. Finally, Chris Nicholls, Master, thanked everyone for working tirelessly to put on a phenomenal show while also expressing his hopes of transforming the event into an international competition with their soon-to-be-open campus in Pune, India.