How does an academy build school spirit when there are no intramural nor intermural sports available, no homecoming, no dances?

The staff discussed this question, especially since we are a K-12 school, with numerous grades having three or less students. Since all those students met together every morning in the library for an opening with the principal—a time of sharing news, victories, prayers, and spiritual insights—it seemed an ideal time and place to do something. But, what?

We decided to have a monthly school spirit day. However, because of the African voodoo religious connotations of a “spirit day”, that title was off limits. What could we call it?

One of the songs we loved to sing was Jabulani, Africa! which meant Rejoice, Africa! We all loved to sing that, whether at sea, gathered on the bow, in the International Lounge with the whole crew, or just among ourselves. When we got to the chorus, there were simple actions that everyone did together that made us all smile.

That was it. We’d call the day Jabulani Day. And the fun began.

Of course, dressing up was critical to the activity. We had crazy hair day, dress as your favorite character day, celebrate your own country day, and African day, to name a few. In Senegal, in December 2020, the teachers all shared the same material to create African fabric outfits in celebration of Senegal. African fabric is sold in most West African markets, and there are lots of tailors available. You can see our fabric on the two teachers on the left in the photo.

The fun began as each class stood up front to show off their outfits, and we suddenly realized how many twins we had. There were two sets of twins among the students, and two teachers who had come to serve far away from their twins—and were missing them! In celebration of twinhood, we took this photo, never knowing that in three months we would be forced by COVID-19 to depart from Senegal, unable to return to Africa for almost two years.

By Kim Robinson – Alumni English Teacher