It’s That Time Again ~ International Day!

February 29th, 2012

Oh Boy. Tomorrow’s the day. A day that fills me with both excitement and dread. Fellow Dubai mothers know what I’m talking about. It’s International Day at school, a cultural celebration, relished by children and slaved over by mothers.

In this case, the event takes place at my youngest child’s school. It’s a day when everyone struts their patriotic stuff, whether they’re from Tunisia, Serbia, Japan, Brazil, Iran or Denmark. About thirty stalls will represent thirty different countries with food, costumes, music, cultural artifacts and educational displays.

Who am I kidding? It’s all about the food.

This year for the USA table, I’m bringing 25 trays of brownies, three apple pies, baskets of red apples, bags of popcorn, as well as lemonade. (Sort of a “county fair” theme—which no one really gets.)

In past years we’ve also served homemade chocolate chip cookies, rice krispy treats, Southwest chili, and hot dogs. No matter what we do, our handful of American moms can never compete with the other countries that offer full buffets of hot homemade dishes or fancy spreads catered by restaurants.

This year I’m manning the table alone (!) so I’m pacing myself. Because two weeks from now I will do it all over again at the high school—a wild free-for-all of teenage eating. At the high school, the food is scooped up so quickly, we can’t put it out fast enough.

But tomorrow’s event is sweet. I cherish the sight of the little kindergarteners dressed in traditional clothing, and I enjoy admiring the other stalls. I will also be handing out handmade Statue of Liberty bookmarks.

However, over the years (especially the Bush years) we at the USA table have endured occasional anti-American comments. Some people don’t comprehend that us volunteer moms don’t set the US foreign policy. So, rather than get into a political debate, I just smile like a lunatic and ask, “Would you like a piece of apple pie?”

So why do I do International Day?

Well. I used to approach it like I was some kind of Food Ambassador, spreading the good will of the US through sugary baked goods. Then last year, at my tenth such event, I got so overwhelmed and burned out that I boycotted the high school international day all together.

I wondered: why do it?

To be honest, I missed it. And my children missed having me there. Parents and students told me that they looked for my apple pie, but couldn’t find it. According to my youngest son, my brownies are “famous” (Betty Crocker, directions on the box).

So, I’ll be there tomorrow, offering the usual sweets. When there’s a lull in traffic, I’ll run over to the Lebanese table for fatayer and to the Korean table for Kim bob and to the Australian table for Lamington coconut cake. I hope the Mexicans will be serving tamales…

Finally, here are some photos from International Day last year—photos that represent a few Arabic counties.

The Lebanon stall:

Some mothers representing Egypt:

The Jordan Table:


An Emirati Coffee Lady serving up Arabic Coffee and Emirati pastries:

Of course, there’s always henna.

Question: What do you do at your International Day?

  1. Amanda
    March 1st, 2012 at 00:34 | #1

    That looks so fun! We didn’t have international days at school until I got into college, and they weren’t as huge as this looks. We had dance performances representing dances from different countries though which was neat.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      March 2nd, 2012 at 10:49 | #2

      Hi Amanda, I miss those college days 😉 … Because my children go to an international school, they do this event. It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it’s worth it. All the children & parents are proud of their countries & cultures, and that is nice to see. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Rima Aburashed
    March 1st, 2012 at 23:52 | #3

    We had our International Day today and the kids loved it. Each class was given a country. Students researched the country (language, currency, customs, food, etc) They decorated their rooms and lots of food was served. Students were given passports and as they visited each class they had the country’s stamp (sticker) placed on their passports. I went straight to America to make sure they knew what there were doing:) I was so happy to see little boys dressed up as cowboys, baseball players, and some in red,white, and blue. The classmade PowerPoint was on and the national anthem was blasted through the room. Presidents, flags, and lots of smiles! It was a very memorable day. Yasmeen’s class studied Brazil and her outfit was adorable. The best quote of the week was right when she started the research process, she said “Mom NEVER EVER EVER type “Brazil Costume” in Google cause everyone is naked, I don’t think they really wear clothes there and the ladies decorate their boobs with paint” 🙂

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      March 2nd, 2012 at 10:45 | #4

      Hi Rima,
      Oh that sounds like a lot of fun. Also, what I love it is that it sounds like the children are the ones making the effort (rather than the mothers!!) What a great day. Thanks for sharing Yasmeen’s quote. Hilarious. We all need to take care when searching under Google Images. 🙂

  3. March 2nd, 2012 at 18:26 | #5

    They had a Serbian display this year? I am so bummed I missed that.
    And yes, the entire ordeal well known to us Dubai moms…

    Hope to *catch* some of your apple pie at the high school this time as well:)

  4. Lisa Hendry
    March 6th, 2012 at 20:11 | #6

    I have so enjoyed the wonderful information and pictures on your site. I’m going to suggest international day at my children’s school now. I am writing a fiction novel and loved your short story. Thanks for the tips on multicultural characters. The Dubai pics were amazing!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      March 7th, 2012 at 23:01 | #7

      Lisa, Thank you so much for stopping by! I appreciate your comment & your feedback. Best wishes with your writing. Thanks again!

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