In a world where many schools have become communities of diverse students from a variety of backgrounds, a theme that encourages teens to learn about each other’s differences and to discover what makes each person and each culture unique is a welcome change. Your prom could be an opportunity to honor special customs, foods, music and dress and encourage students of all backgrounds to look at each other with new respect.
Where to Begin
Put together a committee that can divide up the responsibilities for the international prom. Find out from your school registrar which different cultures are represented and try to include elements from as many of them as you possibly can in your plans. Reach out to parents from different communities to get input on ways you might include their customs in the workings of your prom.
Spread the Message
Starting with your invitation, let people know that your prom will be special. Encourage people to choose whatever attire they feel most comfortable wearing – contemporary prom dresses, traditional ethnic clothing, or something in between. Collect samples of dancing music from a variety of cultures too and plan to play it between popular tunes – you’ll be surprised how much prom guests will love even the most unusual music!
If you usually serve food at your prom, ask your caterer to think outside the box and include dishes from different backgrounds. Maybe find an appetizer or two from different origins, a familiar but authentic main dish, and a buffet of desserts from different cultures. Try to work with one or more caterers open to the international theme and do your best to represent many different ethnicities, not just one or two.
One of the most fun things about planning an international prom is decorating! It doesn’t take a big budget. In fact, parents can provide many of the things that you need. Put out a general request for parents to bring things that could be displayed in the foyer or that could be used on a buffet for visual interest. Purchase a set of international flags and add them to centerpieces for each table. Sometimes you can find large bolts of material that have flags on them, or fabric in the color of specific countries’ flags. Use the fabric to cover tables, drape walls, or create a background with international props for a photo booth.
As important as any of the prom night details is convincing your fellow students to really buy in to your international prom idea. Talk to different clubs and classes about the challenges of being a diverse school, and the opportunity prom gives you to learn something about your fellow students. Encourage people to be open-minded and to give the theme a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised with exactly how popular it is!
What about you? Do you have any great ideas for an international-themed prom night? Which of these suggestions would you use and which would you reject, and why? Please, take the time to tell us all about your international themed prom!