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Letter from Zapallal: September 2013

 

Dear Friends,

This, from a school point of view, has been a short month as we didn’t re-start classes until 12th. During the holiday period our thirteen 4th and 5th year group worked hard in four poor villages in the mountains. They came back tired and blistered but strongly moved by the whole experience. They were proud to wear the jackets that had been provided for them. The poverty and living conditions shocked them but they were captivated by the people with whom they worked. Also new friendships were made with pupils from our other schools who took part in the misión.

Another real pleasure during this time was to be present when Estrella, a school leaver in 2004, made her profession as a Lasallian Sister. I don’t think I have seen such a radiant smile as when the ceremony was over and she turned to face the congregation. A lovely young lady. It was nice to see her family, school friends and teachers sharing her day. I got a special pleasure from seeing two more of my former pupils there – Sisters Gladys and Carla.

For two hours one Wednesday morning, all the secondary classes had what they call a maths Olympiad. It’s a central exam from the Ministry of Education and I suppose all the schools of Peru are involved. I don’t know if it finally comes out as league tables for as yet the results have not come through but we usually do well in maths.

Our two business enterprises in Junior Achievement performed very well in the big demonstration and sales get-together last weekend. One group produced marshmallows dipped in chocolate, decorated with 100s and 1000s, served on a stick (kebab-like) and served in an attractive box. The other produced muffins, again presented very attractively. I think they all learned that running a business is not all that easy and that big profits are not there just for the wishing. The big pity was that the activity took place well out of town which entailed quite a trip. Other years it had been more central in the university grounds.

There was a big regional competition for the younger secondary pupils to present in graphic and dramatic form aspects of social behaviour. One of our first year groups gained second place with their portrayal of bullying.

There was more than a whiff of scandal recently over the artificial grass pitches that have been laid in many schools and neighbourhoods. Apparently police have been investigating improper use of funds. Fortunately the schools are not involved and the pitches are in use as normal.

The big school activity last week was the inauguration of the sporting year. A bit late, one would think, with less than four months of the year to go. Previously the head of PE organised it much earlier in the year. This year a sub-committee was in charge with quite a bit of internal disagreement. The morning itself went off fairly well though for one of the games the sub-committee couldn’t agree on the rules. It was based on Houses (or Families as they prefer here) designated by the colours blue, green, red and yellow. The Houses encompass the whole school population so there were little first year primary pupils as part of a game with 5th year secondary, who, I must admit, were brilliant at looking after the little ones. There was also a ‘football’ match between the ladies of the staff and a team of 4th and 5th year girls. What it lacked in skill it made up for in amusement. Saturday mornings will now be taken up with the competitive volleyball and football competitions.

Friday 30th was the feast day of St Rose of Lima, patroness of Lima, Peru and Latin America so it was a national holiday, although apart from some banks being closed, it looked like business as usual in town.

September will see the beginning of our spring and as such is dedicated to Youth. The weather seems to be changing. It is still very damp in the morning with chilly mists but clears up later and we get quite a bit of sun in the early afternoon. The uncertainty of the weather has produced quite a few colds and related illnesses and as I’ve said before, the type of housing is not tremendously helpful in these conditions. The costs of medical treatment and/or medicines are often beyond many of the families. So thank you to those of our readers who help us.

It is many a year since I was in England for autumn but I hope it will be a mellow and pleasant one for you all.

God bless.
Brother Mark

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