Sunday, April 4, 2004

Neil Diamond Double-Step March

Last week, Tuesday, we were invited to Friday's annual Founder's Day gala event for the U. Common at many higher ed. institutions, I guess, Founder's Day is a ceremonial gesture at legacy, self-definition of the institution and, of course, fundraising. We accepted two seats; would be sitting among friends at a table sponsored by an admirable company who didn't have many people wanting to go.  So we lined Ph. up with a sitter (er, attendant, now that he's a teen), and went on our well-dressed way.  

The theme for the night was globalism. Small, blue sponge balls lined with latitude and longitude, but without continental shapes were propped in the centerpieces, for example.  They started the program with forty international students--most of whom I know by name--marching into the banquet room with the flags of the 98 countries represented by students who attend the institution.  Two at a time.  The flags didn't match with the students' home-countries of record, since there were 40 students and 98 flags.  They came, two by two, a row of symbolic internationalism choreographed to Neil Diamond's "America."

We've been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star

The students propped their flags at the front of the hall and returned to the back entrance to carry forward another pair of flags: Sweden and Mexico followed by Brazil and Greece followed by Australia and Eritrea, marching fast-paced to Neil Diamond.

On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again
They're coming to America

I just want to be descriptive here; present the details they played out before me, because there's plenty of room for critique (of the gushing, centrist-nationalism vibe, for one)--critique that I would never want to undertake at my otherwise well-intentioned, upstanding, play-it-safe weblog.  

Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm

Of course, there was more to the evening than the opening ceremony and flag parade (which left many of the students breathing hard; the pace was jogable).  A couple of really impressive piano performances, a delectable entree (Petite Filet of Beef with a Three Corn Pepper Sauce and Shrimp Bercy atop Wilted Greens goes the menu card), an award presentation for distinguished leadership, and plenty of tippling filled up the night.  It was the second Founders Day gala for me in seven years.  Just as I was before, on Friday I was underdressed.  I had a tie, but I harbor an aversion to suit coats when it's above 60 degrees.  Many of the gents were in tuxes.

It'd be inappropriate for me to raze the event for its challenges engaging internationalism and globalism in their complexities; in fairness, I can't conclude that any of it was mal-intended (yet I understand that the best intentions do not absolve responsibility for proliferating views and values).  But it left me wondering about the resonant gravity of terms such as internationalism and globalism to reinvent and revive centrism and nationalism as the ideological linch pins of supposedly progressive plans. Could've been the wine.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at April 4, 2004 10:53 PM to Slouching Toward

Oh, I thought all global events had a Neil Diamond soundtrack, except for the ones that have "We are the World."

And you did realize that "global" is an anagram for "la blog." This explains much about the current zeitgeist.

[No wine here, but maybe a little whine.]

Posted by: John at April 5, 2004 1:31 AM

Your reassurance that global is code for "la blog" makes it all come clearer now. The only other anagram I could come up with is "Go ball!" like Paul Hewitt of GaTech must've been contemplating last night. In all our celebrations of diversity and globalism at the U., the eventsters haven't dusted off "We Are the World." If they had the notion...if they had the notion.

Posted by: Derek at April 6, 2004 10:11 PM