For the students at Plummer Elementary School, the colorfully costumed children on stage could easily have come from another world as well as another coutnry. To the 28 students from the Washington International School, the visit to the school in Anacostia was also a glimpse at another world. But before last weekhs special program ended with the song, "It's A Small World After All," both groups found the words of the song to be true.
Plummer School had invited the International School and EffiBarry, wife of Major Marion Barry, to join in a cross-cultural celebration honoring 1979 as the International Year of the Child.
Like Plummer Elementary, the private International School also has 512 students, but they are mostly the offspring of World Bank personnel and other visiting foreign staff.
A delegation that ranged from a flaxen-haired Finn, Lynn-Marie Sederlof, 8, to a tan Trinidadian, Monifa Barrow, 6, turned out in native dress to the dazzled delight of Plummer's assembled students.
"They got some bad clothes," Michael Gibson, 12, said with admiration from where he stood in the back of the auditorium. "Look at that girl with the crown." He pointed to 8-year-old Awenna Williams of Japan, resplendent in red brocade kimono and traditional headdress.
"They're all so pretty," agreed Adelia Austin, 10. "Buenos dias," she repeated softly after 7-year-old
Daniel Faillace, from Colombia. Red-skirted Jane Schloss, 6, explained, "In Chile we say, 'Ola.'" and Adelia repeated, "Ola," obviously pleased with the sound.
Adelia wasn't the only one. All around the room, children spontaneously responded to their foreign guests' greetings. As each child on stage stepped up to the microphone and said hello in his or her native tongue, the audience sent back an echo.
Anthony Veney, 11, grinned. "Wow, I've learned to say hello in Czechoslovakian and French," he said.
Effi Barry was not immune to the excitement in the room. Tears glistened in her eyes as she looked out on the sea of young faces. "The international year of the child is a celebration of love because thats what this is all about-love," she said.
International School teacher Jill Jefferies thanked the Plummer students for displaying her students ' national flags. Jeffries told the children, "Concentrate on the good things that you know about people. And when you're grown up and run the world, you can make peace in the world. Thats what the International Year Of The Child is about for us."
Soon it was the International School's group to sing along from their seats as a Plummer pre-school group on stage sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." The pre-schoolers also recited two poems, "I am black," and like me." The first asserted their black identity while in the second recitation, the 4-year-olds chanted, "All over the world there are children just like me."
But back where the older boys milled around, Michael Gibson wasn't so sure of that . "I never seen children like that before," he said. "I don't think they're like us. They talk better than we do and they look better than we do."
When the show ended and teachers began herding children back totheir classrooms, Michael summoned the courage to say hello as he filedpast the rows occupied by the international school students.
"What's your name?" asked Monifa Barrow from under her bright blue turban.
"Michael," said young Gibson.
"His name's Michael, too," she said, pointingto the little gaucho from Argentina. "Hey, Michael! Meet a twin!" She called to 6-year-old Michael Salay. Argentinian Michael said hello toAnacostian Michael and they discussed the intricacies of salary's gaucho suit.
Michael Gibson watched as the international school group left."Yeah, in a way they are a lot like us. And they can learn from us andwe can learn from them." CAPTION: Picture 1, Plummer Elementary School students sing "It's A Small World" for their guests from the Washington International School.
By James Thresher-The Washington Post
Picture 2, Awenna Williams, 8, was one of 28 students of the Washington International School who greeted Plummer students. By James Thresher - The Washington Post