Preparations are in full swing for the latest International Family Fair celebrating global culture at the British School of Bahrain (BSB) which will be staged in the spring for the first time ever.
The ninth edition of the popular community extravaganza will take place on Friday, March 8, and start with a magnificent flag-flying parade around the school’s Hamala campus.
With 2,600 pupils on the school roll, the students represent around 60 different nations, and the event will once again display BSB’s diversity in all its glory. Ellen van Manen, general coordinator for the International Family Fair and a parent representative for Y13 on the BSB Parent Community Committee (PCC), said: “We’re really thrilled to be able to invite everyone to our first spring event. It’s the same successful concept just held at a different time of year.”
In the past, the fair has featured a festive theme as a result of a November or December timing but this year’s event is particularly apt as spring is known as a time full of exciting possibilities and BSB now boasts new owners and a new man in charge.
“After all the changes in recent years there is now a real positive vibe and a true feeling of community once more,” said Ellen who has been working closely with Amal Darwish, the school’s public relations, marketing and business development officer, on the project, supported by more than 350 active PCC volunteers.
Nearly 200 sixth-formers are also helping with the organising, volunteering and co-ordinating and, of course, many will be participating alongside younger pupils in numerous performances set to entertain the crowds throughout the day.
A big stage will be set up on the school’s AstroTurf sports fields and part of the entertainment programme planned with be teasing excerpts from the coming Shrek-inspired musical production directed by the BSB music and drama department in March.
There’s a BD1 entry fee to the fair and money raised will go towards the purchase of ‘wish list’ extras. For example, last year a kiln for the senior school art department was one of the items purchased. “These are ‘cherry on the cake’ items to enhance the well-being of our kids in this school,” said Ellen. “Also, 10 per cent of all proceeds are donated to charity, worthy local causes.”
Ellen, a mother-of-two, is married to project developer and renowned runner Ernst Jan. Their eldest son, Floris, 21, graduated from BSB and is now studying architecture at university, and their youngest son, Pim, 18, is a sixth-former.
Alongside all things British and Bahraini, visitors will also be able to enjoy a taste of Ellen’s home country, The Netherlands, alongside country stalls highlighting the rich heritage of Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, China, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Sudan, India, Malaysia, Turkey, Lebanon, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela and Spain and others.
Students will also put on displays and performances dedicated to their homelands, alongside sporting activities and fun games.
A marketplace with local entrepreneurs will also show off the enormous talent for arts and crafts in the kingdom.
Since BSB came under the Inspired international schools umbrella, investments have already been made, including enhancing its drama and music rooms. Its pupils have recently recorded outstanding scholarly success in British curriculum examinations, as highlighted in GulfWeekly, but academic excellence is only part of the picture, said executive head Jeff Smith.
“The school tries to celebrate its whole rounded approach to education and part of that is where the whole community comes together,” he explained.
“It gives us all a chance to appreciate the diversity we have within the school and, although I have seen it work in other places, this sounds like a much bigger event than I have previously experienced.
“It’s good that students grow up understanding how they are also part of a much wider global community and one of the first ways they can appreciate that is by their interactions within our environment. It’s one of the big advantages of an international school education, the pupils can learn so much from each other.
“A lot of it is about appreciation of the people around them and their differences and they can advance in their own lives with that mutual respect and understanding.”
Mr Smith will be experiencing the BSB International Family Fair for the first time and said: “I’m very excited – I know it’s the biggest social event of the year of the school community and, of course, the wider community too. Everyone is welcome.
“Obviously we are trialling this new timing for the event but I’m quite confident it will prove to be a good date to stage it.”
The last event, although successful, suffered a real soaking as a result of a heavy winter downfall of rain but the weather next month is predicted to be ideal.
Date for the diary: Friday, March 8, 10am – 3pm. All welcome - BD1 entrance, British School of Bahrain’s Hamala campus.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
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