As I was walking home from the bus stop (trying to get some shopping in before the weather turns foul), I practically collided with a group of children and their teacher. The kids were probably 10 or 11. One of the girls smiled brightly at me and said something in German I didn’t understand. I used some of the few phrases I knew apologizing for my poor knowledge of German, and asked if they knew English. The teacher lit up, and called the name of a blonde boy with long wild curly hair. He shyly said “a little bit,” but then hid behind another classmate.
The teacher explained that today is International Children’s Day, and the kids had made stars – each with a different “right” that children are entitled to, such as healthcare, clean water, etc. She said they wanted to give me one of their stars, which reads “Das recht auf Bildung” or the right to education.
It’s sad that while she was explaining this, I was mentally going through my pockets to see what change I had in case they were asking for a donation of some sort. Such is my Americanized mind…
After handing me the star, the group moved on. There were no expectations – they just wanted to pass the word. I’d never heard of the significance of the day myself, so I looked it up. It is a day generally celebrated on November 20th that encourages communication between children worldwide, but more importantly to promote awareness of child welfare causes around the world. It is also a day to celebrate childhood.
November 20, 1959 is the date that the Declaration of the Rights of a Child was first introduced by the UN. I find it interesting that the United States and Somalia are the only two countries of the world who haven’t ratified the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the child. Indeed Children’s Day in the US seems to have religious roots, and while several churches and states have declared a specific date, the presidents (past and present) have waffled about on the date many times. Considering that I’d never heard of it before, I don’t think there must be many activites performed in honor of this day in the US.
On a related note, I think it is time to go read to Eddie: