`Searing Hearts', our 43rd annual International Understanding Day featuring our guest country, Sierra Leone was held on the 27th of April 2017. The theme was chosen to symbolise the burning passion in the hearts of the Sierra Leoneans who have enduring love for the land they call home. Just like always, our main goal was to educate the audience about the vibrant cultures of Sierra Leone as well as the social issues in the country.
The event started off with a time machine sequence where the audience as passengers travelled back in time aboard Time Machine Interact 0427 into the year 1993. In 1993, children were forced involuntarily to serve as child soldiers, and the cruelty of this time of darkness was portrayed in our opening. This was followed by the singing of the Negaraku followed by the Sierra Leone National Anthem and lastly the Interact Song. Roll call was then initiated to acknowledge the presence of our beloved guest present.
A short speech by our Vice Principal, Mr Amaranathan followed shortly after. After that, our Interactor Rachel delivered her spoken poetry titled, 'This is Sierra Leone'. It was an impactful recitation that filled the hall with emotion. PP Rotarian Datuk Chan Kam Fatt went on to deliver his speech about underprivileged children. He shared about the BRDB Rotary Children’s Residence, a home for abandoned children and how the audience could contribute to helping children through this home.
The long awaited dance and skit performances then began. The heartfelt story that showed how young children were abducted and forced to serve as child soldiers, and even murder their families, managed to touch the hearts of many in the audience. The poignant end to the story evoked strong emotional responses from the crowd, and even induced tears in many of the guests. The performances received a huge round of applause from the audience as they were immersed into the amazing performance put up by our very own group of talented Interactors.
As for this year, we added a surprise session where we set up market stalls inspired by Sierra Leone's Freetown Market. The guests were allowed to roam around the hall for 30 minutes and were encouraged to join multiple games and try food tasting in order to gain keys. Special prizes would then be awarded to those who collected the most keys. All the different stalls at this market related to cultural aspects of the country, and the audience indirectly learnt interesting Sierra Leonean facts through interacting with the stall keepers. Many guests were amazed at this new concept as it was fun and interactive. There was also an unexpected flashmob halfway through the market session to hype up the crowd. Our very first team of flashmob members managed to wow the audience with their synchronise dance moves and it ended with Interactor Sharif giving a heartfelt monologue about children in Sierra Leone. He received a standing ovation from the crowd.
After that, an inspirational speech was delivered by our Guest of Honour, the Senior Child Protection Specialist from UNICEF, Mr Phenny Kakama, in which he discussed about issues faced by children. Shortly after, our very own IU Director, Interactor Jermaine Chok Cjun Mae gave her speech. In her speech, she invited our assistant IU Director up on stage to share the moment with her. It was a moving scene that touched the hearts of many.
Next on the agenda was the presentation of token of appreciation as a sign of gratitude to all those who were present that day. The TOA was a jar filled with rice as rice is the staple food of Sierra Leone. This year, our TOAs were presented in a new manner in which the Regi team who had handmade the TOA danced a tribal routine from the stage to the audience to present the tokens all at once. We then proceeded with our finale which was met by a resounding round of applause before Interactors began dancing at the center of the hall in an entertaining rave party. The event ended with tasty Sierra Leone delicacies being served in the canteen.
A long eventful journey filled with blood, sweat and tears has finally ended with a huge success. We would never have been able to pull it off without the support from our very own teacher advisors who guided us along the way and ensured that everything was perfect. Through this event, the relationship between the juniors and seniors have been strengthened as we had to work as a team to make this event a success. We sincerely hope that everyone had a fun time and we wish to THANK YOU FOR COMING!!