This post was written by Emily Peterson, an AmeriCorps member at the Jane Addams School:
On Wednesday, December 5th, the participants of the Jane Addams School of Democracy held a celebration of all the circles that make up the school. The celebration was a time to see all the circles come together to eat, recognize accomplishments, share talents, and to learn from and teach one another. The celebration took place in the cafeteria at Humboldt High School, which was transformed to a friendly seating area and stage. Some people dressed in traditional clothing from their culture, and I myself was lucky enough to be dressed in traditional Hmong clothing.
The night started out with a "contestoria" from the children's circle telling a story about a hungry mouse in a big city. Then the program moved onto the food, as people had brought homemade food that formed a delicious potluck. Some people shared poetry while others sat and ate their food. With over 200 people at the celebration, eating took some time, but it was very enjoyable to try all the different kinds of foods from other countries.
After everyone had stuffed themselves, the talent show began. The emcees for the night were very creative in using actions and movements to get across their messages without using words, and they kept the program moving.
Many people from different circles read their poetry, sang songs in their native language, and danced- styles varying from break dancing to bachata to swing. The outstanding talent of the performers was mind blowing for many audience participants.
One of the amazing things about the night was the mixture of people that came to the celebration; participants ranged in age from 4 to over 80 years old, from countries such as Thailand to Mexico and Somali, and five native languages were spoken. With all these distinguished people, it is no wonder a basic value of Jane Addams is that everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher. This practice could not have been more evident than on Wednesday night.