Around the World in One Night: Behind the Scenes


The mariachi band performing at Around the World in One Night.

Every year, Around the World in One Night is a multicultural, international event held in West Potomac’s cafeteria intended to celebrate the student body’s diversity and learn about other cultures. Students bring educational posters that show off their country as well as authentic food and drink. Tonight, students are welcome for free from 6-8pm, before the winter formal.

After about an hour of students milling around the cafeteria and seeing all the different countries, a few groups perform. Spanish Honor Society (SHS) organized the event, so they will be performing a dance taught to them by junior Bia Sajjad.

“I’ve been in SHS since I was a sophomore, and I’ve also been on dance team since I was a sophomore,” Sajjad said. “I think I was one of the only people on dance team and also in SHS and I had Sra. Castaño for Spanish 4, so she asked me to do it.”

Sajjad was enthusiastic about the request.

“I love all the songs we do in Spanish 4 so I thought we could just do it to one of those and it’s be fun,” she said. “Everyone’s really inexperienced and I’m the only one who’s been on dance team, so I thought it’d be really funny to see everyone come together and do it.”

Along with SHS and some other groups, West Potomac’s mariachi band will be playing. Senior Fabiola Castro-Jimenez joined the group last year and will be playing the guitarron in the band tonight.

“I knew Ms. Gano; I was in her piano class, and she knew that I played guitar so she always  encouraged me to do it,” Castro-Jimenez said. “One day they were doing it during wolverine time and I was there, so I decided to play with them and I liked it, so I joined.”

Spanish teacher and SHS leader Sra. Castaño had reached out to the mariachi band last year and this year to ask them to perform.

“We agreed to do it, since they seemed to enjoy it last time,” Castro-Jimenez said.

While the mariachi band was consistently successful, SHS has not always had good luck with its choreographed dances.

“I’d have to say [the first performance] was pretty rough,” Sajjad laughed. “The music didn’t start right, we didn’t really know our choreography really well, and it was in front of the whole school, so that was that. I think this time it’ll be a lot better–there’ll be less people there, so there’ll be less pressure.”

Sajjad pointed to pressure as a cause of the disorganization.

“At the pep rally, there were a lot of eyes on us and we kind of just looked like a hot mess in every way, but now, I know there will be other people [performing] as well, so there’ll be less pressure on us and it’ll be more of a fun thing to do,” she said.

Sajjad learned from the group’s mistakes, and this time around is going more smoothly.

“I guess I taught it a little bit slower, and they also kind of knew it from last time, so it was a little bit easier,” she said. “I’m going to make sure they start the music at the right time, because know I’m cautious of it.”Both groups are looking forward to audience participation tonight. SHS encourages non-members to come up and mirror the dance steps, and the mariachi band plays recognizable tunes.

“Hopefully if people recognize La Bamba, which I think they will, they’ll sing along,” Castro-Jimenez said.

The lyrics can be tricky for those who don’t speak Spanish.

“We have our new member, Ephraim, who’s a singer, and obviously he doesn’t speak Spanish, so we’ve been trying to help him with the spanish pronunciations,” Castro-Jimenez said. “I’m the only Mexican in the group, actually, but we have some latinos like Beatriz, so they know some of the songs.”

The band will be playing three songs: Las Mañanitas, De Colores, and La Bamba.

Both students wanted to represent their clubs and attract new members.

“Spanish Honor Society is really fun and everyone should join,” Sajjad said. “I really do think it’s one of the better honor societies because we do a lot of fun stuff and academic stuff and donation stuff.”

Castro-Jimenez had a specific request.

“If anybody would like to join, we are welcoming people whenever, like you don’t have to be there from the beginning, you don’t have to have experience,” she said. “We have guitar, we have violin, singers, we have the guitarron, which is what I play, like the bass, and we’re actually looking for trumpets–we can never find any trumpets.”

Sajjad is prepared with her El Salvador poster and homemade papousas, and Castro-Jimenez is excited to see the presentations.

“I think it’s good to see all the different cultures out there,” she said. ”West Potomac is very diverse, so I think it’s good to learn about everyone’s cultures.”