Last week I taught a summer class in Improvisational Theater. The kids ranged in age from 7 to 9.
It was a hoot, let me tell you.
I had 9 students, divided between my morning and afternoon classes. Out of the 9, 4 were of Indian descent, with Indian born parents. Two were Chinese, and one was Russian. One child was from the UK, with a Scottish mom and a Welsh Dad.
It was a hilariously eclectic group of little ones acting out silly scenes like “Fashion Show!” or “Horse Race.” They danced, pranced, twirled and acted. Some of them were excited and proud, but some felt completely embarrassed and out of their element.
My job was to encourage, to prompt, to help them to laugh at themselves and let go of their fears.
Other than the fact that on the last day I threw my back out trying to prance down the fashion show stage, I had a wonderful week.
Children were chatting with me, smiling at me, asking me questions about life. I loved it.
But our last day fell on July 1st. I had to ask the kids what they had planned for the most American of holidays.
They answered with so much joy, and such a level of excitement. I sat there, listening to the mingled accents from around the world, looking into the beautiful shining eyes of the kids. The American kids.
“We are going to the beach with our cousins!”
“We are going to the lake, and then having a cook out!”
“My family will barbecue! Hot dogs, cheeseburgers and good chicken!”
“My Dad says that we will use sparklers after dinner. We are going to have a fire in our back yard. With marshmallows!”
These children are America.
Their joy as they talked about s’mores and burgers and watermelon and fireworks; this is the joy of our country.
I looked into the beautiful brown eyes of those Indian children, warmed by the warmth that I saw there. I shared a grin with my Chinese students, moved by the sincerity with which they planned those barbecues.
I smiled with my blue eyed Russian student and her British pal.
This is America. All of these eyes, all of these smiles, all of these accents.
All of these lovely children planning to celebrate the fourth of July with the rest of our nation.
Happy Independence Day. Welcome, everyone. Everyone.
Welcome, beautiful children.