"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, September 15, 2012

¡Semana Civica!

This week has been a very interrupted week because it was semana civica, civic week.  September 15th is Costa Rican Independence Day.  Instead of celebrating this holiday with barbecues, beer, and fireworks, Costa Rica goes back to its roots.  Although the actually independence day is only on the fifteenth, the entire week leading up to Independence day is celebrated with daily acto civicos in the schools and symbolic festivities at night.  Despite more ground-shaking, I have had a great time this week learning about the history of the country in which I now live.

Every morning, just after the first bell, the students and staff of Futuro Verde gathered in front of the flag pole for an acto civico.  The students lined up by grade and sang the patriotic hymns, said the pledge and listened to the outdoor lesson for the day.

Each day a different teacher and grade was responsible for organizing and planning the events.  On Monday the preschool shared the importance of Costa Rica's independence by looking adorable, singing the anthem, and having their teacher read a short story.  Tuesday, first and second grade educated us on the history and evolution of the Costa Rican flag.  On Wednesday, third and fourth grade recounted the history of the Costa Rican shield.  Thursday, was a practice run for Thursday night's presentation in the community gym (more on that later), and on Friday, the wonderful 5th and 6th grade students led the students in staff in welcoming the torch to our tiny campus.

In addition to the acto civicos, each class took part in decorating the school.  The students brought in flags, shields, streamers, and anything red, white, and blue.  It wasn't just our school that was adorned in the national colors all week; each of the little bakeries and tiny shops around town were equally festive.

"window" decorations in 6th grade
above the board in my 6th grade room

All of the guide teachers were responsible for their class's creation of a pancarta (banner) for the cumulating event of semana civica:  a parade on Saturday morning, the actual independence day.  I am the guide teacher for fifth grade.  That basically just means that I am the 5th grade teacher, but I also teach the English language subjects to 6th grade.  I was right in my element getting ready for the parade!  I love getting crafty, so it was great being able to get a bit messy (or messier than usual) while making our banner.  My kids came up with the phrase "nuestra tolerancia y cultura" to put on the banner.  They wanted to make a flag to go on the banner, so I suggested that the entire banner be colored like a flag.  And to make it more personal, I thought they should use their handprints.

being silly with my boys!
in progress

And for everyone who thought all of those years of color guard and marching band would be useless after high school graduation...wrong!  The director asked me to lead marching practice during the week.  I reverted back to my days as LMHS color guard captain.  I have to say, from our first practice on Monday until today, there was a lot of improvement.  Monday we had shuffling feet and swinging arms.  By the end of the week we had strong, straight arms and marching feet.  Not to say that everyone was on the same beat, but one step at a time.  Turns out the teachers had to march in the parade too!  But more on the parade later.

Thursday night we all gathered in the community gym in Cóbano.  Our school was leading the performances of the night and also selling the typical Costa Rican foods as a fundraiser.  The night started out with a group of policemen singing and playing guitars.  You know the crime is low if that's what the police do here!

Later the children's string orchestra played a few songs.  The big open gymnasium wasn't the best venue to hear strings play, but I still enjoyed it.  A few of my students play and it was neat seeing their talent at such a young age!

The main performance of the night was put on by our school.  It was sort of like a fashion show of the traditional clothing and traditions throughout Costa Rica's history and nearly every student in the school participated.  The students came out in groups modeling their clothing while a recording played over the loudspeaker explaining the clothing and tradition that was particular to a region at a certain time.  Then the students lined up in the front and music played while they showed off their personalities a bit.  Here's a look:

First Communion

introduction of black

scarves and dancing

typical machete

I don't know if I've mentioned this before but nearly everyone has a machete here.  It's like an essential item.  If you have a car, it is not uncommon to have a machete in your trunk.  Some men just wear them through their belt loops.  How else would you be able to chop open a coconut when you are away from home?!

At the end of the show, all of the performers came out together to take a bow.  Here they are:

Later in the evening, the preschoolers presented the "Story of Trip the Worm."  One of the little girls' moms is a seamstress so they all had little costumes on.  The story was about a worm who looked different than all of the rest;  none of the green worms wanted to be friends with Trip because he was spotted.  Trip was traveling, hence the name, and explained that back home all the worms have spots.  So one little green worm took a chance with Trip and before you know it all of the green worms have accepted Trip and the forest is happy.  The story just made my heart melt.  Here is a little clip of it:

This blog author is tired, but I'm not finished writing about all of this week's festivities so this post will be continued at a later date.

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