Tribes Day comes to TRINS
Last Thursday was the TRINS Junior and Middle Schools’ opportunity to stage a large scale production in the form of Tribes Day, the culmination of an exploratory learning unit during which classes in the Junior (elementary) school and Middle School were paired and assigned a particular tribe of people to investigate and explore. The cross curriculum project involved all subjects as students learned about their tribe’s location, customs, history, dances, songs, and other aspects of the their culture. In PE, the students spent weeks rehearsing dances that were performed for parents and guests at the Tribes Day event.
As has become a familiar pattern to us by now, the days preceding the event were busy with the construction of elaborate props and staging, this time lashed bamboo huts with grass roofs, an arching gateway announcing the entrance to the exhibition area, and a palm frond covered staging area where the dances were held. All of this construction was undertaken by a few weathered, kind of gnarly-looking local laborers who built most of the facilities with some poles, rope, and fallen fronds.
Construction of the dancing stage underway
Each tribe had their own exhibition hut
I really appreciated the teacher’s investment in thematic learning and was impressed with the level of engagement seen in the kids. One of the classes took a weekend trip to Munnar to visit some of the Kerala tribal people living there. Unfortunately, this sort of approach to learning usually ends upon entering the Senior School when the curriculum becomes slave to the almighty board exams.
Elena was a member of the New Zealand Maori tribe while Mariana belonged to the famous Zulus of Africa. Each student was expected to construct (or rather have constructed) a realistic tribal costume, not a problem for many of the households having servants with sewing skills and access to sewing resources. About five weeks ago, a barely legible black and white photocopy of a person sporting their particular tribal wear was sent home with a note which basically said “make this”. This was around the time we went into Trivandrum for the weekend to stay at Sreeja’s house. So after a side trip to the book store, we made our way to Parthas, an immense clothing and fabric store where Jenn had a long shopping list of school clothing items requested by numerous hostel students as well as the need to acquire the fabric for Mari and Lena's costumes. We had been to Parthas previously to get school uniforms so we knew our way around the place. It was comforting to find another TRINS parent and child also looking for Zulu materials in the same mound of fabric bolts. It took a while, but success was had. I mention this trip to Parthas only because it provides an opportunity to share the Indian shopping experience with you. Here's how it goes, step by step...
1) Find a sales person on the floor with expertise in the item you are seeking.
2) Work through repeated explanations and language difficulties until you finally get what you want.
Partas is like Jo-Ann Fabrics on steroids
No end to the options!
Come to a verdict on that new saree in the trial room
3) The clerk takes the items for you to the billing window where each item is individually inspected and scanned and an itemized bill is generated.
At the billing window - no shirt, no problem
4) Next you have to find another counter where the items are double checked against the bill and payment is made.
5) At this point, the items are carried by someone to a doorway accessible only to the workers - the items are off to the delivery counter.
6) You head down to the ground floor and cue up in the delivery line. Upon reaching the counter, you hand over the paid receipt and the items are found among the piles of other items awaiting delivery after having made their miraculous journey from upstairs. The delivery clerk and his assistant once again inspect each item, cross-checks it on the bill, then stamps the label on each and every item. The items are once again checked against the bill before the packaging process begins.
7) Packaging - Jenn took some video of this process - the process was well underway by the time the cameras started rolling
Total count of people directly involved in the complete transaction? We counted 8 this time. That's the way it works. I asked a friend why stores use such an elaborate and complex process for operating. He replied that the stores have trouble with shoplifting and theft among both customers and employees - the numerous checks are intended to deter this. What about calling the police and prosecuting? I was told what I have heard many times before - the police are corrupt and can not be relied on. If the person being charged with stealing has a relative in some position of power, a simple phone call could result in future problems for the store. In other words, the stores are on their own.
So with fabric in hand, Jenn worked her motherly magic and with minimal equipment managed to wardrobe our little natives in some very respectable costumes. They both played their roles successfully – we were particularly pleased with how Mari handled the whole scene. As awkward as she felt, she seemed to finally be persuaded by us that the best way to handle it was to chuckle at the absurdity of this unexpected turn in her young life where she has been dropped into an Indian school and asked to dress up and dance around like a Zulu…and just roll with, which she did. We were very proud of her.
So, we'll let the the pictures and video offer a peak as native tribals from around the world make their appearances for a few hours last week.
Though we missed Halloween, the girls got to dress up after all
Straight from New Zealand
Our little Zulu
Some were sweet...
Some were fierce...
Bullock cart rides were a hit!
One of the Malayalam teachers getting into character
He never misses!
No doubt about it - pureblooded Maori !
Tribal foods from around the world were offered.
Amazing what you can do with a couple of palm fronds
African tribal music was performed by professional musicians
Here's a panorama of the action
Parents eagerly await their children's performance
This tribe lives in Kerala - the mustaches give it away
Let the dancing begin!
Some classes sang tribal songs
And everyone's favorite Zulu princess...
And now for the grand finale, everyone's favorite Maori maiden...