Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Thirteen international families representing 11 countries came together to share pieces of their culture during the Organization for International Spouses and Sponsors’ Parade of Nations Feb. 18 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium.
The event, which has been hosted by the OISS for more than 15 years, featured families showing off native dress, food delicacies, national songs and other cultural customs for their sponsors and the other international families.
“This is just another memory they take home, and it really increases friendship,” said Sheila Ryan, OISS Parade of Nations chairperson. “I hope they enjoy themselves.”
As each family came on stage, Ryan narrated what they were wearing and described the symbolism of each piece.
Command and General Staff Officer Course students Maj. Winner Dieng and Maj. Gede Agus Pringgana and their families represented Indonesia.
Dieng wore traditional clothing from South Sulawesi called jas tutup, which is worn for formal and ceremonial events. His wife, Anik, who is currently on leave from the Indonesian Navy, wore a baju bodoa, a traditional cloth of the Bugis and Makassar people of South Celebes. The couple appeared on stage with their 5-year-old son Alden.
“After watching a NASCAR race a few months ago, (Alden) has decided that he would like to be a NASCAR racer someday,” Ryan said as she narrated the show. “The Dieng family told me that they enjoy playing in the snow, something that is missing in Indonesia. Their dream is to visit all 50 United States.”
They have visited eight so far.
Pringgana and his 7-year-old son Putra, wore Balinese hand-made clothing usually worn for traditional ceremonies or for praying in the temples. His wife, Killara Daivi, wore a kebeya, which is worn for traditional dance and other special occasions.
“In her spare time, Killara enjoys art, interior design and sightseeing,” Ryan said. “(Putra) enjoys math, games, running and (vanilla) ice cream.”
Korean Maj. Daesu Kang, CGSOC student, his wife Eunju Lee and their 5-year-old daughter Sarang represented Korea.
While Kang wore his Class A uniform, Lee and Sarang wore traditional hanboks. The hanbok includes a blouse called jeogori and chima and a full wrap-around skirt, which is made of brightly colored silk and is characterized by simple lines and no pockets.
“The Kang family enjoys watching movies, playing instruments and bowling and golfing together,” Ryan said. “(Sarang’s) father told me that she loves all things Disney.”
Maj. Pratik Singh Karki, CGSOC student, and his wife Pranita Rana represented Nepal.
Karki wore a traditional outfit of Nepalese men called a duara-suruwal, as well as headgear called dhaka topi. Rana wore a traditional sari, which is made up of a drape five- to nine-yards long and two- to four-feet wide.
Capt. Donat Celestin Saindrotanjona, CGSOC student, represented Madagascar.
Saindrotanjona wore a malabary, a lamba, and a straw hat. The malabary is traditionally used to cover the body, and the hat is worn to protect from the sun or to salute.
The lamba, while simply serving as décor, symbolizes different things depending on which shoulder it is worn on. When on the left shoulder, it symbolizes humility; when on the right shoulder, it symbolizes strength and confidence.
Saindrotanjona said his Malagasy culture is important to him.
“I decided to participate because the last Malagasy was here at Fort Leavenworth 25 years ago in 1995. I’m the fourth Malagasy to come here to Fort Leavenworth,” he said. “I’m very pleased, and it is an opportunity to make known Malagasy culture and to show our way of dress to American people.”
Maj. Constantin Cisleanu, CGSOC student, his wife Silvia and their children 7-year-old Bianca and 3-year-old Hector; and Maj. Vladimir Hristescu, CGSOC student, his wife Christina and their 1-year-old son Stefan represented Moldova.
Their national costume display was complemented with traditional bread and salt, which represents hospitality.
Maj. Andreas Andersen, CGSOC student, his wife Lise Hanson-Andersen, and their children 11-year-old Celine, 9-year-old Viktor and 7-year-old Camilla represented Norway.
Andersen wore the galla uniform of the Norwegian Army dating back to 1897.
Hanson-Andersen wore the national dress from Island Senja called a bunad, and the children wore traditional festive costumes.
Andersen said they had been looking forward to the event for several months.
“My wife, she just loves our national costumes,” Andersen said. “I think if she has an opportunity to put it on and have the kids put it on, it is just super nice for her.
“It is nice to gather so many nations in one spot because I don’t know anywhere in Norway where there is so many nations represented. That is just a great opportunity that we have over here in the U.S.,” he said. “There is so many things like this that we’re going to miss when we go back to Norway, which has really made this year super special for us. …We’ve had the time of our lives.”
While on stage, the children sang the first verse of the Norwegian national song, which is often sung on May 17, which is the national day, and Christmas.
“It is very famous,” Andersen said. “All kids in Norway that literally can speak know that song.”
Maj. Gnanaprakasam Raja, CGSOC student, his wife Sowmiya and their children 6-year-old Jeevitha and 6-month-old Krihanath represented India.
Raja wore the traditional men’s garment veshti, Sowmiya wore a traditional sari, and Jeevitha wore a pavadai daavani, or half sari.
Maj. Oscar Flores Silva, CGSOC student, his wife Elvira Fernandez and their 11-year-old son Eduardo Flores represented Peru.
Silva wore a traditional cloth from the north coast of Peru, Fernandez wore the traditional dress or Peru and Eduardo wore the colors of the Peruvian national soccer team.
Maj. K.S. Rajive Gunathilaka, CGSOC student, his wife Nilupa and their children 7-year-old Apurvi and 4-year-old Abhimanya represented Sri Lanka.
Maj. Gunathilaka and Abhimanya wore traditional sarongs and long-sleeve shirts. Nilupa wore the Kandyan style sari, and Apurvi wore a half sari.
Maj. Myrvin Gargar, CGSOC student, his wife, Maria Roenna Gargar and their 12-year-old daughter Leovenie Gargar represented the Philippines.
Gargar wore a barong, and Maria and Leovenie wore Maria-Clara-inspired baro’t sayas. Both outfits are generally worn during formal and ceremonial occasions.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dale Cleland represented Scotland, which is a significant part of his ancestry.
He wore a traditional Scottish kilt and balmoral-style jacket and vest, which are all made of wool because of the prevalence of sheep throughout the country.
To end the evening, Cleland played “Itchy Fingers,” “Jug Banjo Breakdown” and “Hornpipe, the Jolly Beggarman” on bagpipes.
Laura Mirakian, an international sponsor who currently sponsors the family from Norway, said this was the first time she attended the event in 13 years of being a sponsor.
“I’m impressed. I wish more countries would participate because it is very interesting,” Mirakian said. “I was real proud of our Norwegian kids singing that song.”