Prom is open to the junior and senior class and is held at the city hall. The junior class met and discussed their options for a meal, finally deciding on jollof rice, chicken, macaroni salad, cake, and soft drinks. On the Friday before prom, twenty of the junior girls got together near the city hall and prepared the cake and rice (they were cooking 100 kilograms of rice to feed everyone, and that’s an all-day affair). On Saturday morning, they cooked the chicken and made the salad.
Prom was slated to start at 8 pm, so Sarah and I figured we could show up around 10 pm and be there right about on time. Little did we know… We rolled into prom around 10:30, bluffing (as we tend to do), and our students were so excited to see us! They looked great, of course, and they were blown away by our outfits (mostly Sarah – she was rocking a new lappa dress!). We were greeted with slight disappointment, however, for showing up so late. Apparently prom is the only event where things start on time… An 8 pm start really meant an 8 pm start. Who would have thought that to be the case!?
We were led to seats of honor – on the stage – and brought our meal. The food was to die for, and I was so grateful for our students treating us with such open arms. (Jollof rice is only cooked for special occasions or celebrations, and they knew how excited we were to eat it. They made sure to give us plenty.) I did catch a rock in my rice, though, and came away with a pretty awesome chipped back tooth – here’s to Peace Corps dental coverage!
The prom was unlike any prom I have heard of in the States. Instead of fancy dresses, corsages, dinner, and a free-for-all dance party, this was a much more structured program. The array of dress options was amazing, as well. Some girls had bought western-style gowns in Monrovia and were looking great, while others were wearing the shortest, tightest dresses and skirts they could buy in Pleebo, while others still were rocking jeans and sassy tank tops. They were all sporting new hairstyles, as well, relishing the opportunity to wear something other than school-mandated straight plaits.
The program started at 8, with a welcome speech and various other speeches throughout the night. Offices in the student government were handed over to their new officers, farewell speeches were given by senior students, and then the talent portion of the show started. The junior class had a dance, followed by the senior class. Local talent acts from Pleebo showed up to perform for the event, and then students started queueing to perform for the group. Anyone could perform, and it ranged from singing to lip-syncing to dancing. They asked if Miss Ryan and I would sing, so we happily obliged.
Our singing, mind you, was being handed a microphone (switched off), blasting the music, and lip-syncing our hearts out. Sarah sang “Diamonds” by Rihanna, which was a hit, and I sang “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce, which was equally as loved. Both of these are heard daily on stereos around town, and the fact that their white teachers could sing these songs was a wonderful source of entertainment, I think. :)
Prom ended around midnight, and walking home, Sarah and I reminisced about the fun we had. It was great to see our students in a relaxed, fun atmosphere, and it felt great to be welcomed into their community in that way. While we were put on show a little bit, it was still a great time, and we definitely looked forward to prom the next year!
(My only regret was not taking my camera – no pictures from this event.)