By: Klaire Tan
There’s no doubt about it. For teenagers across America, prom is big. Media has long ago drilled the importance of prom into the heads of high school students and prom continues to remain high on the high school bucket list. For students, the celebration has practically become a rite of passage. However, outside America, this tradition of holding a black-tie event for upperclassmen is seldom found and if so, there is rarely as much hype as in America.
Because of this, prom can be an exciting event for nonnative students in America. For instance, sophomore Kloran Kanbou is looking forward to prom next spring as her school in native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) didn’t hold dances of any kind. Taiwanese junior Vivian Lee is anticipating the event as well. Like the schools in the DRC, the bulk of schools in Asia don’t hold prom or dances. According to Lee, students instead organize an annual field trip at the end of their junior year, which is the closest thing to prom for schools in Asia.
However, according to freshman David Stelzer, prom is not a new experience for students in his native country of Germany. The reputation of prom in Germany differs greatly from prom in America as the event is taken much less seriously in Germany. All of Stelzer’s friends who have attended prom describe it to be a less than impressive experience. “My friends in Germany all say that prom sucks,” he said. “The music and decorations are all really old-fashioned and prom is held in the school gym.” However, he plans to attend prom here as a junior due to the hype that surrounds prom in America. “Compared to Germany, prom here is supposed to be very big,” Stelzer said. “Everybody wants to go, and people all talk about it.”
According to Student Activites Director Lisa Hall, this hype surrounding prom is well-deserved because much more effort and planning goes into prom. The venue is booked a year in advance and preparation includes catering, transportation and entertainment. For senior Madeline Dray, all the extra effort that was put into prom paid off, as her junior prom experience was one to remember. “Prom was a million times better than any other of the dances,” Dray said. “For prom, you actually leave Gunn and go somewhere new. It isn’t just meeting up in the quad, but something actually special.”
Though most students are looking forward to prom, whether or not the practice of holding such an event should be incorporated by other countries and adopted as a tradition is still a matter of debate. Klanbou and Stelzer give their full support to having schools worldwide hold social events like prom and Stelzer believes that prom in Germany could be a lot more fun if it were held like those in America. Hall, on the other hand, believes that prom might not fit in everywhere. While she supports prom as an American high school tradition, she believes that the practice could be incongruous with other cultures. “Although a fun event for our students, prom is not necessarily something that is valued by every country,” she said.
Nonetheless, prom is an important aspect of our culture. For U.S. students, prom is one of the last glorious hurrahs of high school. “There’s a tradition here,” Hall said. “Prom is a rite of passage in the U.S. It gives students something to look forward to.”