By Ryoji Watanabe, News Writer, MC/MPA ‘12
Distant trumpets and drums accompanied the Harvard Kennedy School parade as it marched across Harvard Yard, alongside cheering crowds drenched in the rain. Jubilant students arrived in front of Widener Library and were greeted by cameras flashing from all directions, bright lights shining from above, and a huge crowd that included Harvard President Drew Faust.
On October 14th, 2011, 50 HKS students representing 35 countries marched in the 375th Harvard Anniversary Parade together with Dean David Ellwood Dean of Students, Chris Fortunato, and Academic Dean , Iris Bohnet. To celebrate Harvard’s birthday, students across all Harvard’s graduate schools and the undergraduate community participated in the parade.
The Kennedy School chose “Ask What You Can Do Around the World” as its theme and students dressed up in their national costumes and proudly carried their countries’ flags. Chinese dresses, Indian sarees, Japanese kimonos, African traditional robes, were some of the outfits on display and attracted the attention of many onlookers in the Yard as did the playful Chinese dragon accompanying the multicultural HKS parade.
“I think our passion was contagious,” says Rohit Malhotra, Vice President of Student Activities. What started as a chant from a single group slowly spread across the Yard. HKS students shouted with fierce determination, “ASK WHAT!?” and students from other schools would shout back with conviction, “YOU CAN DO!!” Not even a terrible thunderstorm could drown out the rising chorus.
“Everyone went above and beyond to make this such a huge success,” said Malhotra after the event. “A finger can’t lift a stone, and together we really put on an amazing parade.”
Despite the abysmal weather, students say they thoroughly enjoyed the event. Peter Thompson, a Mid Career MPA student, commented, “HKS rocked The Yard! It was an unforgettably fun night.” Many other participants in the parade said they will fondly remember this day for the rest of their lives and will always recall how they inspired the entire university community to “Ask what?!…You can do!”