Sunday March 30th was World Youth Day. There are a lot of World Something Days that I didn’t know about until joining Peace Corps. Someone around here finds a way of doing something for nearly all of them, or at least finds a way of reminding me at an inconvenient moment that it is the World Whatever Day and I am failing to celebrate appropriately. Whoops.
For World Youth Day, the local Youth Committee (There are all a lot of Committees, usual they sort of follow their names but in this case, the Youth Committee has people who have gray hair and in fact contains both the mother and daughter in one family. I guess they just mean young at heart.) put together a shindig. It was lunch and then all the different groups of youth in the area did skits of some form or another.
The boarder girls from the school did several dances. A few of them were better coordinated, a few worse. A lot of the same moves, though one group got creative and sort of mixed some kastom dance in with some of the string band dance moves. I was impressed with the girls, since I’ve seen how they behave (or don’t) in class and I am starting to understand how crippling the idea of shame is here. For the girls to get up and dance in front of a room full of people must have been the hardest thing they’ve done this term.
The youth group from Vanmelang, my district, did several different skits, each of which required ten minute costume changes. We listened to a song about development in Vanuatu. I’m not sure where they found that one. They did a dance that looked a lot like a line dance. Then they did a dance, still in lines, that could have been a simplified version of River Dance. I have no idea where they found that, but the English volunteer sitting next to me found the whole thing as ridiculous as I did and we kept giggling that we wanted to find a DVD of an Irish Cailli to show them. I think Contradance would go down well here, though they’d have to hold hands with the opposite sex.
The last thing they did was a skit. Half way through the skit, I realized it was biblical slapstick. First, one of the youngfala came in dressed in rice sacks with a rice sack covering his face and a walking stick. He staggered around stage like a caricature of a blind old man. Eventually, he fell asleep. Then we waited awhile, like ten minutes while the previous group of performers came back in and took there seats. Finally, the procession arrived. They were singing about going to Jericho to meet Jesus while in their midst was a guy who had stolen the priests robes for the occasion. I don’t know where else he would have gotten long white robes, unless he got them off the priest. The “blind man” woke up and came to ask about Jesus. One of the leaders shoved him away in the most overdone, three-stooges-esque way. He fell down. They kept going and he came back. He got shoved back again. He came a third time and got shoved a third time. On each shove he’d find some other dramatic way of falling all over himself.
On the last time, he wasn’t turned away and Jesus laid hands on him, which involved taking the rice bag off his head. When he could see, he started skipping around the room like a five-year-old on speed and shouting about how he could see.
The entire thing would have fit will in a moralizing vaudeville performance and had the audience in stitches the whole time. Biblical slapstick is a hit around here. Who knew?