Senior prom, ICS Addis Ababa style.
High school prom plans are often complicated, but perhaps even more so when you are an international student. Alekka’s British boyfriend graduated from ICS last year; this year he is enrolled at a university in London. Although he’s on spring break now, he wasn’t available to take Alekka to the prom because (beyond the budget considerations) he is vacationing in Sri Lanka with his parents, who, incidentally, have moved to Dubai. So another young man from Alekka’s circle of friends, a very nice fellow from Japan, offered to be her escort for the evening. He emailed Alekka’s boyfriend to ask for his blessing, which I thought was awfully cute.
ICS has a policy of including parents in the prom. Most American parents I know here think that this is borderline creepy when they first hear about it, but a lot of ICS families (and students) are attached to the tradition of prom as a family affair.
As in the US, many girls spend the day getting their hair and makeup done. Alekka is sporting a short hairstyle these days, so she skipped the salon beauty treatment with her girlfriends and got ready at home.
The evening started with a pre-prom cocktail party and photo session at the home of one of Alekka’s friends. Her crowd were all invited along with their parents.
This year the prom was held at the Sheraton, Addis’s most elegant hotel. One of the kids rented a gargantuan Hummer limousine so ICS seniors could arrive in style. Alekka and friends were invited to ride from the cocktail party to the hotel in this monster vehicle but the limo couldn’t make it to the house – the streets in that neighborhood are too narrow and corners too tight. So one of the dads ferried them to the main road to get picked up. The old folks carpooled to the Sheraton in time to see the kids arrive on the red carpet.
The family festivities involved a fancy buffet dinner, more photos, some brief words from the administration, a slide show of the students then and now, a celebratory cake, and a mother/son, father/daughter opening dance.
Then – and this is always the tricky part – the parents were told it was time for them to move on so that the students could have their own dance party. In past years, some families didn’t take the hint and continued to sit around sipping their Cokes and Ambos, which really put a damper on the evening. But this year we were good little parents, shuffling off to the bar at an appropriately early hour to talk about our kids and how much we will miss them next year.