The International Festival was a great day. This is only my second year at St John‘s, but I have moved seamlessly from the shock at the craziness of International Festival to the sense of insider familiarity and enjoyment. The concept is quite straightforward but takes a huge amount of planning, organisation and execution: families organise themselves into country groups, devise a plan for their 30 seconds of fame on the runway stage, source costumes, gather props, and possibly choreograph a dance. Concurrently, many nations are busy organising the booths – during the day, an opportunity to celebrate their country as a tourist or cultural destination, and then in the evening, the focal point for a gastronomic extravaganza, with food and drink specialities and delicacies in abundance.

It was brilliant to see so many students and families relishing the opportunity to take to the stage . There were incredibly sweet moments as siblings joined each other on the runway, the older ones encouraging the little ones to be bold and enjoy the moment. Many did! There were fantastic examples of family unity and country unity – super costumes, choreography and forethought. Props also played quite a role this year too with the Canadian party wielding a lumberjack chainsaw, Norway on roller-skis and Belgium channelling their cycling skills to name just a few. Excellent music selection too – the UK choice of Elton John‘s I‘m Still Standing with the omnipresent backdrop of Brexit was inspired. As I find myself on the verge of disowning my own country, I saw many other parts of the world on Friday evening that I would be proud to call home. Thank you to all the St John‘s families who made International Festival 2019 a day to remember.

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