Letter from Zapallal - October 2011
We are seeing more of the sun and the mimosa is bursting out, so spring is here. To celebrate we had the Day of the Student. Previously this was known as the Day of Youth. Loads of pupils were involved as there were plenty of activities, both physical and mental. A highlight was a 1st year boy and 2nd year girl doing the very graceful but demanding dance – the marinera. The climax was the bailetón, a dance competition. Each form provided a couple and they had to perform several dances as the music changed. There was plenty of ability and imagination. At the end they were all shattered, as it went on for quite a while. Not to be outdone, the primary pupils a few days later had their spring celebration, built round the theme of nature. There were lots of colourful costumes and props, plus traditional dances.
It is hard to escape dances at the moment as all year groups, teachers, administrative staff and former pupils are practising for the Festival of Dances on 16th October. All spare open spaces are in use, including on Saturdays and Sundays. The Festival will be a competition, so not only the pupils are keen to win but with at least five dance teachers involved , they also feel their reputations are at stake. Normally the judges come from the National School of Folk Dancing, so they know what they are looking for. The Festival will be the curtain-raiser on the 20th anniversary celebrations.
The former pupils inaugurated their annual championships for football and volleyball. It was a colourful and noisy occasion as the various promociones, dressed in their distinctive strips, tried to outdo their rivals with chants, mascots, balloons and other trappings. There was also a vaca loca, a wooden and cardboard model of a bull, bedecked with fireworks which ignited in turn as the ‘animal’ was carried around. A poignant moment was when there was a minute’s silence in memory of dead school companions. It was sobering that at least five of them had died in shooting incidents, innocent victims. The competitions will go on until December and while there is a great spirit in general, there is no love lost during the games. It is a wonderful time to meet up with lots of former pupils and see how many of them have gone on to further education which entailed having two or three jobs to raise the funds. One has to applaud their determination and perseverance at not allowing so many disadvantages to prevent them reaching their goal.
We were pleased to congratulate two of our 4th formers who had the first two places in the maths competition involving many schools in a very large area. They now go on to the provincial finals.
I mentioned previously that a new artificial grass pitch had been opened in our barrio. The provincial government is now making one in the school. There was a bit of a shock when all the workers suddenly disappeared for several days and there was a big doubt that the project would continue but the workers are now back.
I get many requests for financial help, especially in the area of health. Treatment and medicines are expensive and as I’ve mentioned before, it is always money up front. A mum came to see me the other night, quite frantic. Her baby had been rushed to hospital vomiting and showing other worrying symptoms. The doctors started the treatment and then found the baby needed extra treatment. As the mum did not have the money for this, the doctors simply stopped treating the baby. Hence the mum’s visit to me. In the end all worked out well but this highlights many of the problems the people have to face in their daily lives.
May you all stay well.
God bless. Mark
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