Letter from Zapallal - January 2012
Since I last wrote there has been quite a lot going on. We have been very pleased with our various academic successes. In the entrance exam for TecSup, the leading technology institute, we had the first eight places. For another prestigious institute we had eleven successful candidates. Scholarships have been won for at least three universities. All this speaks volumes for the ability of the pupils but I think more for their determination and perseverance despite all the problems they face each day. The sad thing is that some finally will not be able to continue with their courses as fares, materials and other extras will be too much for the families. So we are grateful for the financial support we receive from readers that helps some of them. Obviously more support would be very gratefully received. A young lad in the 3rd year, Hector, won third place in a national art competition. His classmates are particularly proud of him.
We had our Festival of English, a bit more muted this year but still an incentive for the pupils. The 1st year brought their pets and spoke about them. The 3rd year put on a Fashion Show in which they explained their various outfits, all made from recyclable materials. One peacock train was especially striking. The 5th year in their last appearance gave a very good and resounding rendering of “This old man …”. Certificates were given for progress in English.
On the English theme, the 5th year produced their various plays in English. They obviously found acting in English difficult but this didn’t impede their creativity and imagination, especially in scenery and costumes. They also showed remarkable ability in producing English newspapers. The presentation was very professional, a credit to the Graphic Design department.
Another department, Textiles, not to be outdone, put on a fashion show, complete with catwalk, flashing lights and music. It gave the 3rd, 4th and 5th years an opportunity to show the clothes that they had made.
There was a lovely time at the beginning of the month when we had celebrations for baptisms and First Communions. Then more than fifty of our 4th and 5th years received Confirmation. Lots of smiles!
As part of the Religious Education programme, the 5th year decided to help some very poor families by improving or re-building their houses. Prior to this they had had various activities to raise funds for the materials. They certainly did a very good job laying concrete floors, replacing the bamboo-matting walls and the plastic roofs. They were especially pleased to help a family where the father had had both his arms and a leg amputated. To take part in this project they gave up a national holiday and a weekend. It was hard work because just under the sand is hard rock.
The elections for the municipio escolar (school council) were conducted by the 5th year on the same lines as the presidential elections – identity document, fingerprint, dyed index finger. As always, it will be interesting to see how many electoral promises they keep, as they are always the same.
More than a hundred 4th and 5th years from our four schools in Lima gathered here for NANIPO (Navidad del Niño Pobre – Christmas of the Poor Child). They spent the night before getting to know one another, praying, singing and reflecting. The next day they split into five groups to visit five very poor areas where they played games with the youngsters, gave them gifts that had previously been collected and ended with a chocolatada – the traditional hot chocolate with paneton, their equivalent of Christmas cake.
The sports championships of the former pupils produced lots of good football and volleyball and renewed lots of friendships. The champions for football and overall champions were promoción 2012, this year’s 5th year. They certainly deserved their success as they played very well. Some of the former pupils were not too happy as they claimed they were not former pupils but I think it was more chagrin at the youngest coming out on top rather than semantics. The prize was presented to them by two of their mothers who were in the first intake of the school; a fitting gesture in the year of the 20th anniversary.
The weather is getting hotter and as is so often the case, it’s the time for temblores – earth tremors. We had quite a long and powerful one at 2.40 a.m. on 19th, another on 27th at 3.30 p.m. and another on 29th at 8.45 a.m. One of the effects of the tremors is that all the many dogs of the area go mad.
The official closure of the school year took place on 28th. At the primary ceremony, besides diplomas and speeches a group of 4th year girls sang and danced to a carol to St Joseph. It has a catchy tune, especially the chorus which is sung in Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas.
The secondary celebration was more sedate and longer. There were diplomas for the first three places in each form, diplomas for the various workshops and a farewell speech by a 5th year girl. The climax was the reading out of the first ten places of the 5th year. This is based on the accumulation of all the marks of the five years of secondary school and can make the pupils eligible for help with further education.
Work on the artificial grass pitch has been spasmodic, with some weeks passing with no work being done. This week they have been working through the night to get it ready for the inauguration on 30th. There was talk at one time, if the pitch had been ready earlier, of the ceremony being performed by President Humala but it will now fall to the President of the Region of Callao, Félix Moreno, still a very big fish! I’ll be in the airport waiting for my flight to England, via Paris. It looked as if Moreno would be coming when I left the school but he was meant to be padrino of the Leavers’ fiesta on 29th and he sent a substitute. The fiesta went well and all seemed happy.
May I wish you and yours every blessing of this Christmas season, hoping that 2012 will be a wonderful year for you all. God bless.
There’ll be delay in the next news from Zapallal as I don’t get back until the beginning of February.
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