November means the end of the school year, and once again I have a child successfully completing her academic career and ready to move on to the next stage of her life: Elementary School. Yes, getting through three years of preschool is a momentous achievement, and so a grand ceremony to commemorate the event took place this last Saturday. The preschool, Taski ABIM, has grown and grown in Kuching over the years and this time there were over 390 kindergartners
walking the stage, preceded by speeches, skits, songs and shows. As this was my fourth time attending, I passed on the main hall and hung out backstage instead. There was a large covered area with all the kids clustered according to groups, each with their own costume. Some were getting prepped to go on stage, complete with make-up and last-minute muslim-garb-check.
One group of kids was dressed in gym clothes, with a red baseball cap turned sideways on their head. Can you guess what they are dressed as? Americans! They were the only group of children to do their skit in English! You could write a book about what American youth culture means to Malaysians through that cocked-sideways baseball cap, but I’ll just note the fact of it here for you and move on. American Garb! The event dragged on, as official functions tend to do, into its third hour, and the children milling around in the
holding area grew more frenetic, and the loud murmur rose to a dull roar until finally a pair of teachers whipped out their kompang and dumbek and began to play. The kids immediately started singing along to the hymns and things grew if not quieter, at least less chaotic until the time came to start walking the stage. My daughter, Kak Uda had a great time. I may not have caught all the skits this time around, but that’s OK. I’ll be back next year with Kak Andak.