Every summer, Manitoba is host to the largest, longest-running multi-cultural event of its kind in the world: Folklorama. Folklorama is an event that runs for two weeks every August, and it's been going on for a long as I can remember. This year, forty-five countries were represented, with each country being represented in an assigned venue, known as a pavilion. The pavilions are located throughout the city, and each pavilion presents a show featuring the songs and dances of their culture, along with the trademark ethnic cuisine and a cultural display. Many pavilions also sell souvenirs or crafts for visitors to purchase. A few of the many countries with pavilions this year were: The Carribean; The Phillipines; Ireland; Germany; Greece; Israel; Korea; Mexico; Spain; Portugal; Scotland; Romania; Russia; Ukraine; Serbia; Italy; Hungary; Croatia; Brazil; Belgium; India; etc etc.
This year, for the first time ever at Folklorama, Ethiopia was represented by a pavilion! The pavilion was set up in the Ethiopia Cultural Centre and staffed by volunteers (both adults and youth) of Ethiopian cultural background. We had hoped to attend the Ethiopia pavilion last Tuesday evening, when many other Manitoba adoptive families were planning on attending, but unfortunately that timing wasn't great for either Geoff or me. So we went on Saturday evening for the first (of three) shows. To our delight, my sister and her family, as well as my parents, also came! We arrived a bit early, having heard that the lineups had been pretty long throughout the week, and we were glad that we did because it didn't take long before the place was entirely packed; in fact, not only were all of the seats full, but people were crowded cheerfully all around the auditorium of the cultural centre. We purchased a meal of injera with various dishes on top of it, and really enjoyed it (well, Matthew didn't but oh well!). We also purchased a small cup of the most delicious, roasted-on-site coffee I think I've ever tasted; the scent of the roasting coffee permeated the centre in a most pleasing way. Then, at 6:45 the show began, and went on for about an hour, featuring music and dancing from various regions of Ethiopia. We thoroughly enjoyed both the music and the upbeat performances - the dancers, in fact everyone in attendance, seemed so cheerful and relaxed and open to having a good time. It was really fun.
Two rows in front of us sat a family whose youngest son is a four-year-old boy who is just two weeks home from Ethiopia! I was almost unable to take my eyes off of the little boy, who could well be the same age as our child. He was so heart-achingly beautiful, and proudly wearing one of those popular, flag-coloured hats with ETHIOPIA knitted into the front of it. When he smiled (including once at me...likely when he caught me staring at him!) he took my breath away. I later dreamed of that boy, thought about what it would be like to be his mommy, and was fleetingly envious of the new family that can call him son and brother. I talked briefly with his mom after the performance had ended, and found the same immediate connection with her that I have with so many families who have gone through this process; never having met this person before, we both had tears swimming in our eyes within moments as we wished each other well and squeezed hands. I hope that someday when we receive our referral, I can track her down and let her know.
In the meantime, as we left the pavilion a couple of hours after arriving, Geoff and I couldn't help but look at each other and express the identical thought: maybe, just maybe, we'll be back next year with Ethiopian-born child in hand. Wouldn't that be an evening to celebrate!