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School hosts 'A World of Spice and Spirit'

May 22, 2004|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Two hours - not 180 days - was all it took to go around the world Friday night at Northern Middle School in Hagerstown.

"A World of Spice and Spirit," a school event, was set up to "offer people the opportunity to have fun and learn ... about cultures and countries," organizer Sherry Keeney said.

Keeney is a family support worker for the Washington County Department of Social Services who is based at the school.

Northern Middle's cafeteria spanned the globe.

Japan's table had sushi and ginger. Peru had piranha teeth, a blow gun and a shirt made of tree bark. Egypt had a picture of King Tut and a mosque-shaped alarm clock.

Putting aside old troubles, France, with its croissants, was a good neighbor with Germany and its beer stein and sweets.

Visitors were given "passports" to take to each table for a stamp.

Joyce Kigembe displayed items from her native Tanzania, including a tea set, candleholders, a Masai warrior and his wife, and a blind man playing 12 drums, all carved from ebony.

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She had a cloth wrap called a "khanga," which is casual wear for men and women, and a dictionary of Swahili, Tanzania's main language.

Kigembe said she was born in Tanzania, but lived in the United States in the mid-1970s, when her father worked at the Tanzanian embassy. She came back here to live in 1992, figuring her children would have a better future.

Elle Bratt, who teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages, had a table symbolic of her country, Thailand.

She pointed to a formal dress, silver handbags and a bowl used to hold both rice and holy water.

Bratt showed how a scarf is Thailand's equivalent of a wedding ring. If it's draped over two shoulders, the woman is married; if it's over one shoulder, she's single.

Bob Bare of Clear Spring isn't Estonian or Latvian, but he visited both former Soviet republics as part of a church group in 1997, so he had his own table, too.

Bare's table included a dolomite candleholder and an amber necklace from Estonia, where his group spent a week refurbishing a barn, and a deceptively light hazelwood cane from Latvia, where the group worked on a parsonage building for a week.

Some of the evening's festivities included limbo dancing and piata bashing in the gym, Chinese lion dancing in the cafeteria and gong and drum music by the Shepherd University Gamelan, an Indonesian ensemble, in the auditorium.

Keeney said a core group of about six people at Northern Middle School used connections to find representatives from the many countries.

They called upon Hagerstown Community College and Shepherd University.

Kigembe's youngest son, Rajab, an eighth-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, previously attended Northern Middle School for a month.

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