Fasnacht 2014

Wednesday, 05. March 2014

by Daniel Davis Wood

The approach of Lent means that it's carnival time here in Switzerland, and last weekend the students of the Ecole community organized the school's annual Fasnacht celebrations.

Although the official Fasnacht of Bern won't take place until this coming Saturday, our local celebrations began last Friday when each Ecole family was assigned the task of heading into the dining hall to decorate the table of another family. After dinner on Friday night, students decided what sort of decorations they wanted to use and then made the arrangements without the direct supervision of teachers. "The point was to wake up on Saturday morning and go into the dining hall and be surprised by your table that would be decorated in a cool way by another family," says Hallie Scarbrough, a student in the American Program. "This year's Fasnacht theme was the Winter Olympics, so my family put torches and rings all around another table. When we went to breakfast on Saturday, we found our table rearranged and decorated as 'a trip to Sochi' with flight attendants leading us onto the 'plane' and giving us special Olympic outfits to wear. It was great."

After breakfast, Saturday classes were canceled so that everyone could take part in a special program that only one family knew about. It began with students returning to their rooms to smear on some facepaint and dress up in extravagant costumes, and then convening in the Grossen Saal for a special Singgemeinde featuring a brass band and traditional carnival songs. When Singgemeinde was over, the family from Osthaus Up took to the stage to introduce everyone to the course of events for the 'Ecole Director Pageant' which gave each student the opportunity to become Director of the Ecole d'Humanité for a day.

Flanked by press attendants, a security detail, and a photographer, leadership candidate Michael Stämpfli delivers a stump speech on behalf of the family from Lüthi-Peterson House.

Because there could be only one winner, how was the new Director to be selected? First, every family had to nominate one member as their candidate for Director. Then every family had to participate in three different activities. "First they had to organize and perform a dance in front of the whole school," says Hallie, "and then they had to quiz their candidates like participants on a TV dating game, and then the candidates had to deliver a speech." With one current Director, one former Director, and a visiting teacher as the judges, Michael Stämpfli, the candidate from the family in Lüthi-Peterson House, was declared the winner, and he spent the rest of the day performing the part of Director with flair and generosity.

"After the pageant we had burgers for dinner," says Hallie, "and then we had a dance party with a very fun atmosphere and many teachers attending. Fasnacht this year was a great success and is something that Ecolianers are still talking about!"