By Sushilkumar Jadhav (G.11)
When was the last time you picked up a piece of trash and disposed it or even planted a tree in your backyard? Did you feel a sense of pride in these minor acts of gratitude? I say gratitude because acts like these, might not seem worthy at first, but they surely do come with a lot of deference for planet Earth.
Our Earth has been bombarded with a lot of abasement, as a result of all the blithe acts of us humans. Throwing trash in our surroundings which takes years to degrade, deforestation which consequently powers the greenhouse gas effect and even water and air pollution all blemishes the Earth. There was a 190% increase in Amazon deforestation as of 2014 (1) and 6,673 million metric tons of CO2 produced in the US as of 2013 (2). All this perpetuates into prolonged planet humiliation with long-lasting reverberating effects.
So what is Earth Day? Earth Day is a collective opportunity for all to take an initiative, a step towards reducing the carbon footprint and thus providing a better conditioned Earth for future generations. It is also a way in which to acknowledge founder Gaylord Nelson’s ideas in the 1970’s for a better Earth, after he witnessed the deleterious effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
There are many ways to perform acts of gratitude. For example, trash collection, tree plantation, use of recyclable containers or even just limiting car or electricity usage for just that one day, can make a difference. Remember, unity is the verity to success. Speaking of large scale initiatives, Earth Day Network is an organization spanning 193 countries. Their Canopy Project, encompasses the pinnacle of tree plantation, with the goal of planting about 2 billion trees (3). Furthermore, numerous events are also taking place in other countries. Many states in the US, such as Washington have planned various activities such as exhibits at Union Station. China has planned a massive cleanup at the Great Wall and The Hague, at Netherlands has a plethora of sustainable information to surround your senses. As for the UAE’s contribution, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, a gigantic complex that runs on renewable energy and features some exciting projects like the Solar Impulse 2 and the Shams 1 solar project.
As for Raha, Student Council kept its steps in accordance through the diversity of fun and educational activities planned through April 19-23. Tuesday was reserved for an earthy, staff/student blue and green basketball game while Wednesday was a bake sale with Earth theme colored food, along with a BBC documentary, for further inspiration. According to Ms. Alex, the Student Council head and supervisor, her take home message would be for the “staff and students to take conscious choices to limit their carbon footprint whether it is through limiting energy or electronics use.” The drama team also has geared voices, as expressed by Carlos Páez from Grade 11, that they have planned “songs to address the issue.” Songs with the harmony to delight, but with a message of the Earth's plight. So, we all look forward to the 45th Earth Day, which we hope will surely bring expedient yet innovative changes. The world, the country and the commune participates. Will you participate?
By Ahmed Al Mansoori (G.12)
On the 28th of February 2015, the school community gathered to celebrate International Day, a long standing Raha tradition. From the front gates all the way to PYP Pitch, parents and students from all around the world gathered to showcase our community’s unique cultural diversity.
Like past International Days, the event began with a school-wide assembly, where Principal Wayne McInnis addressed us, highlighting what it is to be a “true citizen of the 21st century.” This was followed by speeches and musical performances by Raha’s students.
At the end of the assembly, the greatly anticipated Global Village opened, where parents and students had set up stalls for their home countries showcasing traditional food, costumes, and even games!
Among the many goodies on offer, the food sold out the quickest.Where else would people be able to have a plate of 'koshari', eat some 'mansaf', and enjoy 'tacos' at the same time?
With approximately 82 different nationalities represented in our school, International Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate each other’s cultures and Raha's diversity. It is days like these that remind us how culture enriches our daily experiences and enhances Raha’s learning environment.
Photos By Sohail Bagheri (G.11) and Rohit Menon (G.11)
Video by Lisa Zimmermann (G11)
Photos by Rohit Menon (G11), George Batra (G11), Nour Saleh (G12), and Sohail Bagheri (G11)
by Athena Thomas (G. 11)
On the 12th of February, Raha will rise in support of the ‘1 Billion Rising’ movement. An initiative born from the 2012 U.N. Women statistic that 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, it involves a collective protest to stop violence against women. Held every year on the 14th of February, the campaign has been hugely successful in over 200 countries and is now the biggest collective action to end violence against women in human history.
But 1 Billion Rising is more than just a protest. During their demonstrations, activists dance to the theme song of the movement: ‘Break the Chain’. The song unites people with its unique choreography as they demand change and an end to violence through their strength of numbers. The dance symbolizes defiance in the face of this existing injustice, and teaches young girls respect and control of their bodies.
Raha’s solidarity to the cause will be expressed in a flash mob on Thursday during morning break. This is Raha’s third year participating in the event and according to Ms. Rhea Lynn, the organizer, there are currently around 50 students practicing the dance. She explains that “the only way to change anything is through peaceful protest, where we all want the same thing”. Indeed, the movement has had repercussions around the world, causing new legislation to be passed countering violence against women. 1 Billion Rising has also, more importantly, provided a platform for survivors to come together, and regain control of their bodies and lives.
Apart from the flash mob at morning break, there will also be a special Theatrical Thursday at lunch, with performances revolving around the theme of female empowerment. Thursday will also be a dress down day, where students can donate 5 dirhams to this cause and wear red, white, black or pink clothes.
The mission of 1 Billion Rising is to change our world for the better. The Raha community aims toward this mission on a smaller scale, by raising as much energy and awareness as possible on the situation that many women and girls face around the world. In her interview, Ms. Rhea also emphasized the importance of boys joining this movement, “to grow into men who can hold each other accountable for these actions”. There are thousands of men involved in 1 Billion Rising around the world, similarly demanding an end to the violence and that their female compatriots be relieved of this injustice. This is a world issue, not a women’s one.
It is by informing one community at a time that change can begin to happen. This Thursday’s events are just a tiny piece in the mosaic towards a world where girls and women can leave home without thinking twice about they’re wearing, or worry about being harassed; but it is nonetheless an important step. We urge you to look beyond the free dress day, and see the issues surrounding us and what you can do about them.
Join in the flash mob and DANCE towards revolution!
by Sushilkumar Jadhav (G.10)
June 1-5th was a pleasant and honored week. With Teacher Appreciation Week around, the Student Council members geared up to honor the teachers. Mrs. Sara, the Student Council head, already rendered enough
support, making day to day plans for what was to be delivered. The seniors, the grade 11’s and 12’s were the packagers and decorators while the grade 10’s… Well we were the delivery personnel.
The delivery packages came with an assortment of treats. Candy with coke for one day and fruits with small and cute honor badges the final day. Doors were also taped with a small poster saying “Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Mr/ Mrs …” always reminding the teachers of their well-deserved respect, whenever they entered their respective classes. It was pleasant to be part of those lunch time meetings, when the seniors and us carefully scribbled on sheets of paper with colorful markers for the decorations or when the seniors sat in a group, tediously reading through all the messages sent by responsible students to make sure that Appreciation did not turn to “teacher value depreciation” through any inappropriate messages.
I delivered part of the goodies on the ground floor of the language block. The first delivery round did not come as surprising for the teachers since they were aware of the plans. They accepted the goodies with love and thanked Student Council through me. The second day when I delivered the goodies, the teachers still looked obliged and happy. They received with open hearts, with Mrs. Wafa saying “I’m on a diet,” followed by a humorous smile.
The third day was the most surprising. The teachers seemed to feel more pleased than the previous two days as they felt the need to ask my name. I assumed this to be a token of compliment. In addition, praising comments were also showered when Mrs. Marian, the head of secondary school said, “It’s wonderful to see the little posters on each door.” This phrase gave me the sense that the teachers liked being valued. Mrs. Liana, the MYP IT teacher added “I think the work that Student Council is doing are really great.” This itself reflected how honored everyone was of student council.
However, I was also given some amazement, when I found out that a Teacher Appreciation Week food ceremony was arranged. So after all, the goodies were just a starter and the main course was still to come. Although the food ceremony was not part of Student Council’s to-do list, it was surely an icing on the cake. Happy belated but always strong living….Teacher Appreciation Week to all teachers!
by Athena Thomas (G.10)
On the 22nd of May Raha International School’s Grade 12 Visual Arts students presented their artworks at Yas Island’s Rotana Hotel.
The evening opened with a speech by Ms. Daniela Parkinson, the grade 12 Diploma Programe, Visual Arts teacher. She commended the girls on their hard work throughout this course and praised their courage to create artworks “critical of our society”. Ms. Marian Rossiter, the Head of Secondary School, also congratulated the artists on their achievements in a speech highlighting the importance of art in our lives.
The participating artists Daniela Mapeso, Amber Moore, Lisa Seo and Subul Wasi are graduating students from Raha this year and have created these artworks as part of the International Baccalaureate Visual Arts Course. The course entails a maximum of 12 (at Standard Level) or 18 artworks (at Higher Level), all of which concern a topic chosen by the artist prior to execution. The topics chosen by these artists seemed simple on the surface, but had deeper underlying meanings that were expressed through the freedom of their art.
Daniela Mapeso, a Higher Level student, focused on the Media & Film Industry – concentrating on society’s veneration of it and the illusions it presents. Littered with references to popular culture, her works were accessible and easy to identify with. Through an assortment of mediums, Mapeso encouraged viewers to adopt a more critical view of the media industry and the control it has over us. Daniela has been accepted into the University of Northern Carolina to study Pre-communications film and media.
A more personal approach to the project was taken by Amber Moore, a Higher Level student, who chose to explore light and dark. Beginning with the physical aspects of light and dark, she went on to examine the figurative light and dark in human minds. This resulted in pieces targeting recent world events, like the Arab Spring. Moore provided a poignant view into the human psyche with the repeated juxtaposition of light against dark.
Lisa Seo’s topic of ‘Games’ also tested viewers by investigating the psychological and physical effects of games. A Standard Level student, her artworks addressed different kinds of games, from the political to the cultural. Expressed through a selection of mediums, from silk painting to pencils, Seo’s works encompassed with stunning simplicity some of the most complicated facets of our society.
Subul Wasi, also a Higher Level student, explored the textiles industry in Pakistan. Inspired by her Pakistani heritage, Wasi incorporated color, texture and pattern into her works by using a variety of different media. The usage of unfamiliar mediums, like recycled fabrics, to represent common scenes challenged the viewers’ minds and presented them with new perspectives. Subul has been accepted into The University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada studying Global Business and digital Arts. Her folio also accessed her to the Carlton University, Canada, International Multimedia and Design.
Albeit their small number, the artists put on a diverse show with over 50 artworks in 17 different mediums. Ranging from the traditional, like batik, to the modern, like digital prints, the students have shown their versatility by manipulating a wide range of mediums including metal pieces and clay.
Visitors to the art show were impressed with the quality of art, especially with the concepts these pieces were able to convey. Ms. Julie Brunelle, a teacher who has helped these students with their artworks along the way, is “really proud of the students and the time and effort they’ve put into completing their works”.
Ms Daniela would like to thank the generous sponsorship provided by the staff at the Yas Island Rotana Hotel and GAC transportation. Their support was such an integral part to the success of this exhibition.
Raha’s fourth Grade 12 Visual Arts Exhibition has been a success, with gallery standard artworks that are not afraid to question the society we live in.
by Ahmed Al Mansoori (G.11)
For hundreds of thousands of years, art has been a major form of expression in many societies. As art has evolved over the course of time, it began to evoke certain reactions out of its spectators.
Among the phenomenal turning points of the theatrical arts was when Russian dramatist Constantin Stanislavski founded the Moscow Art Theatre, initiating the revolutionary movement now called realism.
Inspired by the insightful teachings of Stanislavski and his movement, the Drama Department of Raha International School worked effortlessly for many months to stage the play Eat: It’s Not About The Food.
Directed by Ms. Rhea Lynn, the play effectively demonstrated the main concepts of realism by addressing a serious social issue.
Touching upon the ethical and moral implications of pop culture, the play presented a haunting insight into the personal lives of teens with eating disorders (in particular Amy, played by Tala Barham, and Joey, played by Chris Hage), as it explores the psychological inner conflict they face in their daily lives.
The play began with a short introduction by Tala Barham and Shaikha Al Salman, as Amy’s mom, describing the reality of eating disorders in modern pop culture. Not only was the introduction informative, but also it was filled with articulation and emotion as seen through the actresses’ tone, thus causing the audience to realize the seriousness of the issue in hand.
A very enjoyable aspect of the play was the Generic TV Actress’s monologues, performed by Maxine de la Rey, that helped lift up the somber atmosphere, as her performances could have been seen as a commentary on the media’s influence on our perception of beauty.
The scenes taking place in the asylum especially stood out throughout the duration of the play, as the casts’ realistic acting skills helped the audience visualize the setting in their minds, and sympathize with their feelings of anger and frustration.
Among the most emotional scenes of the play was the death of Lisa, with whom Amy shared an intimate moment with at the asylum. That intimate scene made effective use of props, such as the blanket, that helped convey the closeness between the 2 characters while they discussed their future plans.
However, the play could have been made even better by the consistent use of technology in order to deliver the main message. Although the background music played in the beginning was very nice, carrying out more sound effects in the rest of the scenes would’ve had a much more dramatic effect in the audience.
Nevertheless, the play was a fantastic work by the Drama Department at raising awareness of eating disorders, as it displayed the harm it causes to individuals and the people around them. And so, great job to all of those who participated in the play! We’ll be looking forward to more performances by these talented individuals in the near future.
By Ahmed Al Mansoori (G11)
Last Saturday, the school held a major event that we were all looking forward to: International Day. This is the time in which the entire school community comes together not only to celebrate our cultural diversity, but also to take pride in being global citizens of the world.
Having been an international student in Raha International School for many years, I always enjoyed the learning experience this event had to offer, as it exposed me to the wide array of nationalities within our community - most of which I don’t normally notice! When I look back at my first year at Raha, I was both excited and daunted by this new environment that I had difficulty adapting to. However, daily interactions with other international students have helped me open my mind to the wondrous world we live in.
One of my favorite things about International Day is how it stimulates many conversations about our origins, and different lifestyles. In one way or another, the observation of this event has helped us develop an appreciation for other cultures, as well as how to embrace each other’s traditional values.
What makes this year’s International Day even more significant is the increasing number of nationalities within our school. The active engagement of parents and staff in the Global Village was of great educational value, as we were able to explore the food, clothing, languages, and even the social values of each country.
Above all, regardless of our cultural differences, this event has managed to gather people from all round the globe for one purpose: to celebrate being part of a diverse, multicultural community.
By Cassandra Kisoro (G12)
On the 8th of February 2014, the students, teachers and parents of the Raha International School community found themselves immersed in a very traditional, yet culturally eventful environment. Raha’s long anticipated International Day had finally arrived. This long-standing tradition at RIS allows individuals from over 70 different nationalities to express and share their cultural diversity through their vibrant national dress, dances, cuisine and décor.
As soon as you walked onto the football pitch, you could immediately feel the excitement and pride of the kids and parents who were representing their respective countries. You could tell how proud the students were to be wearing their colorful national dress, especially the little kids who were showing off certain details of their outfits to one another and even just the big smiles on the faces of parents who had their cameras ready to snap pictures of the event and their children. Before the activities, we were entertained with several dances, songs and speeches given to us by members of our diverse community. Before we knew it, there was a very flamboyant parade of nations, where children walked around the pitch representing their countries with a banner of their country’s name and flag portrayed, as we were conveniently given a few educational facts regarding each particular nation.
Finally as we walked off the pitch, the most promising and anticipated hour of International Day had appeared before our eyes and noses. The exploration of the various stalls and the delicious food tasting had commenced. Personally, I am a huge food lover! I highly enjoyed the atmosphere the Global Village offered, and I tried the various dishes from every country. My personal favourites included the Italian bruschetta, the Korean barbecue beef and the South African hot dogs. In fact, this was my first year attending Raha’s International Day and I thoroughly appreciated the exuberance of the event, and I will greatly miss it as I leave Raha next year.