Time Capsule Project
The current first year IB students participated earlier this year in a project organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) to demonstrate the diversity of the people of the United Kingdom; this year marks the diamond jubilee of the Queen, and the RCS project was conceived as a way for schools to share in the Queen's celebrations.
The Time Capsule project, as it is called, has proved to be very interesting indeed, and as a consequence the RCS invited as many as possible of the participating schools to attend the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey on March 12th – one thousand students from all over the UK were invited to attend. With students in our International Sixth Form from so many different countries, we had a predictably various response to the RCS request for each student to produce a presentation focussing on one given date during the Queen's reign. Obviously, in deciding how to award seats to schools chosen to attend, the RCS could offer each school only very few: we were fortunate enough to have seven for the Sixth Form.
We therefore had to pull names from a hat to select the lucky few!
This was the first public event in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, and it was as enjoyable as it was thought provoking. It had been designed to make everyone there feel part of the great diversity that is the Commonwealth, sharing its aims and ideals; from the moment when a young representative of each Commonwealth country processed with dignity and pride through the Abbey carrying their country's flag to the moment when the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall passed by –very close to us - on their way to share the service, the atmosphere was electric with anticipation.
The hour that followed was full of delights from around the Commonwealth, including a short address from internationally famous Dame Jane Goodall, who gave us a chimp's greeting that was indescribably moving; a similar brief talk from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian author of Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow sun, offered an explanation of the dangers to peace of stereotyping people. She said that it is not that stereotypes do not have any element of truth – it is because they only tell a partial truth. Rufus Wainwright sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and Hugh Masekele, globally revered South African jazz musician, entertained us with a specially composed song written in the South African tradition of audience participation. We also heard the especially composed anthem for the Queen's jubilee year.
At the end, as we went back out into the gloriously sunny spring afternoon, the bells of Westminster peeled deafeningly in a fitting end to what had been an unforgettable and moving experience.