Out of Many, One Language
Students from a wide spectrum of schools in Kingston and St Andrew came together recently to recreate the story of Christmas. They did so through Bible readings and the singing of traditional Christmas songs from different Spanish-speaking countries. But amidst their joy, there were some challenges.
"It was a lot different'. I am not use to reading Spanish, I am more into reading English; it was very hard. So I had to practise a lot," said Tiandrea Malcolm, a grade six student of Mico Practising Junior High School.
However, it was not preparation that gave Norman Manley High School grade 10 student Amanda Nash mixed feelings. The excitement and nervousness she felt was also not a result of reading or singing in Spanish, but because of the size of the audience.
It was a very different story for Nash's schoolmate, Jahmila Bell, who joined her in reading the modernised Spanish translation of Mathew's account of Jesus' birth.
"Even though I do not do Spanish, to actually read it and to learn the language in the process was great," she told The Gleaner. "The feedback from the audience also encouraged me to gain confidence." she added
Kenisha Williams is a teacher of Spanish at Mico Practising Junior High. She too was excited about her students' participation. She believed that by participating in the concert, "it gets them to learn more about the Spanish culture."
Students more familiar
"All the songs performed are from different Spanish-speaking countries and our students got more familiar with the Spanish culture.
They get a chance to read as well as hear others reading. They will realise that learning the language is not so hard; as those [students] who are older have a problem speaking the language too. And so with more practice they will get better," she noted.
But what was the experience like for the choir directors who are not teachers of Spanish?
"It was work," Obed Davis of Norman Manley high school said emphatically. "I tried to get the translation in order to get the right movement, and so that everything makes some sense." And he was excited that their performance came off well.
The occasion was the staging of the annual Concerto De Villancios, organised by the Embassy of Spain in Jamaica and the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation. It was held at Webster Memorial United Church on Half Way Tree Road.