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Letter from Zapallal: November 2013

 

The Regional government invited over 400 schools to take part in a competition “Dance for your Promoción” with various prizes, the top one being all the expenses of the Promoción’s leaving fiesta would be paid for by the Region. A highly desirable prize. Our dance group got through to the finals but did not win. However they won S/.1000 for the Promoción so that will certainly help expenses. The fiesta is a big thing in the lives of the 5th Year and is usually a very colourful and elegant affair. It is also big business for the venues and it is necessary to book early in the year. Our booking was made in early July.

8th October was a national holiday so no school. It recalls the heroic naval defence against the navy of Chile in a 19th century war. In the end Peru lost but the heroism is honoured, in the same way as Dunkirk is honoured.

We are in the time of earth tremors and have had quite a few recently. On 10th there were three national earthquake drills. The morning and afternoon drills were like fire drills in UK schools but in the evening there were full dress rehearsals in Lima and other big cities, re-enacting all the possible scenarios. Obviously such public awareness is very important but there is so little time. There are the first movements so the question is, Is it a temblor? Probably, so evacuation and gathering of groups. On a very good day the school can do all this in about two minutes which is pretty good but then you think the earthquake in 2007 lasted only 150 seconds but did immense damage and killed more than 500 people. The overhanging fear is that the experts believe there is the possibility of another major earthquake in the Lima region.

We had a rather interesting type of donation – 2000kgs of potatoes (reminiscent of a few years back when we received 3000kgs of oranges). Parents very quickly formed queues to receive the benefits.

Our annual football and volleyball championships of former pupils are now in full swing. It is good to see so much enthusiasm and obvious affection for the school. Rivalries are keen and some games are very physical but there seems no bad will.

18th October is the official anniversary of the school when it was legally established twenty two years ago. So we had celebrations. Early in the morning there had been three temblores, one particularly strong which set off all the dogs barking. It was a wet chilly start. First of all we had a very good religious service. Then there were various games based on Families. The first was a singing competition – first group to recognise and continue a song. I thought it was a bit harsh on the younger groups because it had to be word perfect and none could manage it. There was then a quiz for the secondary pupils on the history of the school. They were not too hot on the early part of the school. They then had to create a moving machine from a representative from each year group. The most ambitious was a steamroller, the easiest a blender. Then they had to pick out a ‘value’ from a hat – justice, friendship etc. – and form the word again using bodies. They were quite imaginative in this. Four teachers then reminisced about incidents in the school. The finale was a general dance session.

All the personnel of the school were invited to lunch and before eating there were presentations for ten or twenty years of service in the school.

Linked with the anniversary celebrations was the Dance Competition on 20th. Again it was a chilly wet start and I felt sorry for the 4th and 5th years who had the minimum of clothing as the first part was a walkabout in the streets around the school. There were four categories based on age and each category had been allocated a type of dance. The youngest category had “Carnavals” which allowed plenty of movement. The other age groups had the traditional divisions of coast, mountains, jungle. A group of mums also performed. The standard was very high and a judge from the National Institute of Folkdancing commended all the participants but with those oft heard words, “not everyone can win.” I agreed with the judges’ decisions. I particularly liked the 6th year primary who elegantly danced the polka Lima-style. The 5th years won the last category, deservedly so. Generally speaking it was a very good day and the inner man was not forgotten as there were plenty of traditional dishes on offer, serviced by the 5th year for their funds.

They needed funds because on 24th and 25th they went for the Leavers’ educational visit. This seems to be a custom in all schools. They went about four hours south of Lima to one of the river valleys that are in such contrast to the starkness of the coastal desert. They had to produce work on the history, geography and economy of the area. They all seem to have thoroughly appreciated the outing which offered many of them an opportunity to see another aspect of their incredible country.

At the moment we are enjoying sunny afternoons. I hope you and your families were not affected by the recent storm.

God bless,
Brother Mark

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