Thursday, October 14, 2010

Culture Day

This past Tuesday was Culture Day at school. There are all sorts of days here such as day of the arts and day of the tree. To celebrate Culture Day, the teachers split into three groups with each in charge of a country: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the US. Each group prepared a performance, some food and some decorations about each country.

This was probably my favorite one of these civic days so far this year. Independence Day was interesting, but yesterday was much shorter and sweeter. I was put with the group for the US, obviously. I was told I needed to show up in traditional dress for the US. Needless to say, I was stumped by that request. Not only do I only have the regular clothes I brought from the US and I packed light, but what would I have worn? Thankfully in the end it did not matter. I wore normal clothes and no one seemed to mind.

The performance for the US was a country dance sung. Being from Boston I'm certainly no expert on country music or dancing to it, but I thought the two teachers and two students did an excellent job of it. I don't know what country song they danced to, but it was very representative with good lines about hanging out by the river in Georgia somewhere. The dancers all wore cowboy boots and hats and all around it was really good.

Another performance (I think Nicaraguan but I missed the opening explanation) was a fascinating dance/drama where a boy and girl dressed nicely danced together. Then the boy split off, and one by one 4 other students came out dressed as vagabonds with dirty clothes. The girl continued dancing in the middle and from the side the vagabonds came out dancing with her one by one.

Each of the vagabonds had a different temptation. The first had money, the second alcohol, the third cigarettes, and the fourth a knife. She rejected all the temptations and then the boy came back and they together fought off the vagabonds.

All in all a good message. It was really interesting how the younger students enjoyed it because of the slapstick humor involved, while the older students laughed some but also understood what was being said. Hopefully they took it to heart as they go onto high school.

Then a small skit with a teacher narrating was performed in remembrance of the landing of Columbus in 1502 on the coast of what would become Costa Rica. While a little bit of the noble savage stereotype came out, it was certainly a better description of both the negatives and positives than I learned at the same age, which was good. Maybe too many positives, but it was at least not a celebration of Columbus "discovering" the New World.

After that I served the hot dogs and soda which were the US foods. The Nicaraguan food was a figurón, which is a yucca and meat dish. The Costa Rican food was rice pudding, chicken and rice, and empanadas. A good day was had and it was a lot of fun and hopefully the students learned something about all 3 countries and to respect and appreciate the differences.

The only annoyance was the students dressed in indigenous clothing making the standard "Indian war cries," which I did my best to put an end to. Some listened, some did not, but other than that, the day was pretty good.

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