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Jacinda Ardern’s no-touch greeting craze hits San Diego

It’s a common way of saying “g’day”

Awana’s ingenious socially-distanced graduation ceremony
Awana’s ingenious socially-distanced graduation ceremony

Is San Diego opening up? Last week, it sure looked like it. The scene: 10th and Orange in Coronado, 7 am. Clayton’s has just reopened its coffee window with the $1 coffees. “I ran when I saw it,” says this lady in line ahead. “I wanted to cry.”

Two blocks west and 8 hours later, a teaching nurse named Mary Beth puts on her best hat. She decided it was time for neighbors to reacquaint themselves with each other. “Join your Neighbor 2 Neighbors for socially distant Happy Hour from 5-6pm,” says the flier she’s been handing out. “Bring your mask, chair, beverage for yourself, and the best alternatives to handshakes, hugs, high fives, hongi, and the east coast wave.”

D Avenue neighborhood gathering. Just to get out...

“East coast wave?” It turns out to be a no-touch greeting craze started by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. It involves a meeting of the eyes, a raising of the eyebrows, and a subtle upward movement of the head. It’s a common way of saying “g’day” on the east coast of the North Island where Ardern grew up. Since the popular prime minister demo’d it, it’s gone national. Now, after this block party, it may have crossed the Pacific.

Sponsored
Sponsored

And the “hongi?” It is the also-much-loved nose-to-nose greeting from the Maori tradition. But that very tactile, hugely intimate greeting might have to wait.

And the Kiwi invitation? “I found it online,” says Mary Beth.

Mary Beth’s Greetingly Correct invitation

Two streets away, another strange phenomenon bursts out around five o’clock Thursday. Cheers, and whoops echo down the street. It’s kids and grown-ups lining C Avenue near the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church. They wave signs and flags and yellevery time a car comes past. After these weeks of social isolation and silent streets, it sounds almost shocking. You think: homecoming? A wedding, a commencement, an anti-lockdown demo, maybe? Except the signs all say things like “Yay! Wow! Woohoo! You did it!” and “Congratulations!” and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” and “Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed.”

Rebecca searches out a graduate’s awards

“This is our ceremony for the children graduating our 14th AWANA class,” says Rebecca Smith. She’s standing at an awards table beside the road, wearing mask and gloves and a smart black outfit. Every now and then, when a car pulls up with parents in front and kids in back, she leads cheers and pretend high fives and takes a package out to the car.

“We had a problem,” she says. “We couldn’t have a ceremony for the young people graduating from their virtual classes. That’s when I decided we could do a drive-by awards ceremony. We’re all physically distanced, and the families can come and pick up their awards by car. It feels like a celebration. And look! they’re all coming. Thirty-five families, 65 awards.”

They tense a little when a cop car cruises slowly by. But then he waves, smiles, and heads on down C.

Rebecca Smith

But “AWANA?”

She says it’s an organization to “teach children Christian values.... We have been going 70 years, are in 124 countries, and have ministered to 5 million children from 2 to 18 years old,” she says.

And what does AWANA stand for? “It’s [a paraphrase of] a quotation from 2 Timothy 2:15. ‘Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed.’”

That meaning’s a mystery for another day. Meantime, you can’t help feeling that life is bursting to get back in the saddle.

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Awana’s ingenious socially-distanced graduation ceremony
Awana’s ingenious socially-distanced graduation ceremony

Is San Diego opening up? Last week, it sure looked like it. The scene: 10th and Orange in Coronado, 7 am. Clayton’s has just reopened its coffee window with the $1 coffees. “I ran when I saw it,” says this lady in line ahead. “I wanted to cry.”

Two blocks west and 8 hours later, a teaching nurse named Mary Beth puts on her best hat. She decided it was time for neighbors to reacquaint themselves with each other. “Join your Neighbor 2 Neighbors for socially distant Happy Hour from 5-6pm,” says the flier she’s been handing out. “Bring your mask, chair, beverage for yourself, and the best alternatives to handshakes, hugs, high fives, hongi, and the east coast wave.”

D Avenue neighborhood gathering. Just to get out...

“East coast wave?” It turns out to be a no-touch greeting craze started by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. It involves a meeting of the eyes, a raising of the eyebrows, and a subtle upward movement of the head. It’s a common way of saying “g’day” on the east coast of the North Island where Ardern grew up. Since the popular prime minister demo’d it, it’s gone national. Now, after this block party, it may have crossed the Pacific.

Sponsored
Sponsored

And the “hongi?” It is the also-much-loved nose-to-nose greeting from the Maori tradition. But that very tactile, hugely intimate greeting might have to wait.

And the Kiwi invitation? “I found it online,” says Mary Beth.

Mary Beth’s Greetingly Correct invitation

Two streets away, another strange phenomenon bursts out around five o’clock Thursday. Cheers, and whoops echo down the street. It’s kids and grown-ups lining C Avenue near the Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church. They wave signs and flags and yellevery time a car comes past. After these weeks of social isolation and silent streets, it sounds almost shocking. You think: homecoming? A wedding, a commencement, an anti-lockdown demo, maybe? Except the signs all say things like “Yay! Wow! Woohoo! You did it!” and “Congratulations!” and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” and “Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed.”

Rebecca searches out a graduate’s awards

“This is our ceremony for the children graduating our 14th AWANA class,” says Rebecca Smith. She’s standing at an awards table beside the road, wearing mask and gloves and a smart black outfit. Every now and then, when a car pulls up with parents in front and kids in back, she leads cheers and pretend high fives and takes a package out to the car.

“We had a problem,” she says. “We couldn’t have a ceremony for the young people graduating from their virtual classes. That’s when I decided we could do a drive-by awards ceremony. We’re all physically distanced, and the families can come and pick up their awards by car. It feels like a celebration. And look! they’re all coming. Thirty-five families, 65 awards.”

They tense a little when a cop car cruises slowly by. But then he waves, smiles, and heads on down C.

Rebecca Smith

But “AWANA?”

She says it’s an organization to “teach children Christian values.... We have been going 70 years, are in 124 countries, and have ministered to 5 million children from 2 to 18 years old,” she says.

And what does AWANA stand for? “It’s [a paraphrase of] a quotation from 2 Timothy 2:15. ‘Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed.’”

That meaning’s a mystery for another day. Meantime, you can’t help feeling that life is bursting to get back in the saddle.

Sponsored
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Comments
2

Cool block party. Keeping it positive. Have a drink on me...

May 22, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
May 27, 2020

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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