¡Feliz dia de Independencia!
A sea of patriotic blue and white flags and banners hang from windows and public buildings, the drumrolls of marching bands, melodies of marimbas, and chirps of parade whistles play rhythms in the air. Symbols of national pride: the national flower (Monja Blanca), bird, (the Queztal), tree, (the Ceiba), and adored national hero, the Mayan warrior Tecun Uman, are plastered across classroom walls and admired like idols. The streets are filled with children wearing the vibrant colors and rich textures of trajes tipicos, traditional Mayan dress. There is something in the air, an infectious buzz of anticipation and excitement… It’s Independence day!
Although Guatemalan Independence day is, “technically”, just a one day holiday, Guatemalans love to display their national pride, cultural heritage and celebrate liberation from their tumultuous past of subjugation by Spanish colonial rule in the weeks leading up to Independence Day. This creates a lively and festive atmosphere full of opportunities to show national and local pride, not to mention it makes life here feel like a constant party!
Here at UPAVIM we have been celebrating by coordinating an UPAVIM parade where students from the school, montessori, and our tutoring program, reforzamiento, dressed up in elaborate costumes and marched through our neighborhood, La Esperanza. It was such a joyful procession! Many community members came out to watch and support UPAVIM. Parents faces filled with pride as they watched their children march through the streets, many of them joining right in the parade and walking alongside of us.
We also participated in a parade with other schools in our district and thoroughly enjoyed dancing through the streets to the beats of the Basico (middle school aged) students’ marching band. Our students also presented folkloric dances, nationalistic poetry readings, and gymnastic routines at our community canchas, the soccer/basket ball courts.
At all of the events it has been so wonderful to see all the spirited support of parents and community members and it is inspiring to see the tremendous amount of pride and heart that Guatemalans have for their country and culture. ¡Viva Guatemala!