My name is Azelia Pennerman and I am from Nassau, The Bahamas. I am currently in my second year at UWC Atlantic College.
UWC Day began at 2PM in the Bradenstoke Hall, opening with a fashion show of national costumes - which I participated in. There were roughly 20 Atlantic College students dressed in their national costumes, all waiting outside the Bradenstoke door for their name to be called and their national song to be played.
The Bradenstoke was thoroughly decorated with flags from all different regions around the world. I made sure to represent with the biggest Bahamian flag that I owned which hung at the back of the Bradenstoke, and was present in almost every picture taken of the students walking up the hall during the fashion show.
Finally, it was my turn. I heard the MC announce, "and now from The Bahamas we have Azelia!" I could distinctly hear my friends cheering for me but I decided I would wear my "game face" and simply walk up with Bradenstoke with my second largest Bahamian flag, bearing pride for my nation.
My national costume is also a spectacle. It is from a festival that only happens in The Bahamas, called Junkanoo. It's a bright orange costume, covered in peacock feathers with a head piece hat which almost touches the ceiling. It is a popular rumour in the Bahamas, that the festival was established during the influx of loyalists in the 18th century, which brought many slaves.
It is said that they were given three days off for Christmas, during which they celebrated by singing and dancing in colourful masks. Indeed, it was difficult to bring an entire Junkanoo costume across the Atlantic Ocean to Wales, but it had to be done if I was going to properly represent my country.
So flag in hand, I strutted through the Bradenstoke, allowing most to see my full national costume for the very first time. I have always been proud of my country and UWC day was the perfect chance for me to make my presence known!
After everybody had their chance to shine at the fashion show, we all walked back down the Bradenstoke Hall in a line, giving a final reminder of how diverse we actually are.
We then had a group singing of 'Imagine' by John Lennon. This was then posted on social media with the hashtag #ConnectedVoices to raise awareness about the Rohingya crisis. It was a spectacular performance and I am very happy that I was a part of it. After that we had the student performances to end the show.
First a Eastern European girl sang a song from her home town, and then it was Olga and Anne Noor singing a self-composed song with piano accompaniment which was lovely. We then had a Sarafina re-enactment which I participated in, which was about the protest of Apartheid. We all dressed in black and it was very powerful.
After the Sarafina re-enactment, the student lead dance group called MOVE ended the show with a very exciting performance.
After the festivities in the Bradenstoke ended, everyone moved to the glass room in the Arts Centre to get a small taste of other cultures, literally! The glass room consisted of many different stations, where a group of students were responsible for cooking food from that region. It was quite an event.
Once everybody had a taste of a different region, there were henna tattoo stations and face painting in the Great Hall which many students enjoyed.
Lastly, there was a Bollywood dance workshop which I heard was a lot of fun.
I love UWC Day because there are so many world views that one can experience in such a short space of time. I got to see national costumes from so many different countries, which is an experience that you can't get anywhere else. There is food and cultural appreciation, and just a loving atmosphere in the entire school. It is also the perfect opportunity for me to express my pride for my nation. Those who know me well will agree that I am extremely proud to be from The Bahamas, and I show it in any way that I possibly can. If my country trusted me to represent The Bahamas, that is exactly what I plan to do. I may be the only Bahamian here, but people are for sure going to know about The Bahamas!
- Azelia Pennerman