Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Independence Day at EA

Ceci wrote this article about a recent school celebration. Ceci has been spending a lot of time at our house lately. She and Maggie are physics partners, and they have lots of projects to do together. The catapult and the cannon were big hits. I'm just impressed with how well she and Mags use the power tools! Ceci is the one on the left.

It was the morning of September 12, 2008. Senior students made last adjustments to their outfits, juniors fidgeted with anticipation, fourth graders played with flags of white and blue, and everyone looked forward to one thing, and one thing only: the Escuela Americana annual celebration of the independence of El Salvador.

But this isn't just a ceremony commemorating the freedom of our country. Like almost everything at EA, it is something brimming with tradition and significance. The event is led by the current senior class. The national anthem is sung, the "OraciĆ³n a la bandera" (the Salvadoran version of the Pledge of Allegiance) is recited, and the flag is brought in by its very own student escort. But there is more. Fourth graders perform marches they have practiced for weeks, two senior students recite essays they have written about their country, and the whole senior class dances in the typical Salvadoran style. Most important of all (to the junior class, at least), the twelfth grade presents the eleventh grade with the right of carrying the Salvadoran flag and the responsibility of honoring it and respecting it. This transaction represents a transfer of power of sorts, a way for the senior class to tell the eleventh graders that things are in their hands now. Of course, this is just taken as an excuse for the juniors to be as loud and obnoxious as humanly possible for about a minute and a half, while they celebrate the thrill of finally being in charge of something. And boy, do they relish it!

For the past eleven years of my life, I have watched this ceremony from the sidelines. I have clapped, sung, and enjoyed the overall high that comes along with an event of this magnitude. But this year was different. I was chosen to represent my class as one of the six students who escort the flag after it is given by the seniors, so I watched everything from a completely different perspective, on a physical and personal level.

As I stood on the stage, I realized just how much I love this tradition. I smiled and clapped as the fourth graders did their best to remember the complicated steps to the intricate marches, and I laughed as the senior girls twirled around in colorful dresses, having a great time. And, as my friend Adri received the flag from the senior representatives, my classmates over on the bleachers screamed like there was no tomorrow. I couldn't have been prouder to call myself a "Guanaca".

I cannot think of a better way to describe this celebration other than to say it is a sensory explosion. Not only is the music incredibly loud and the decorations overwhelmingly vibrant, but one must be careful not to get hit on the head by a rogue candy bar (courtesy of the senior dancers) or to get trampled by the delirious juniors. It is big, loud, and merry, like everything in El Salvador should be. It is one of the things I'll miss the most about home once I'm off at college, because it shows just how good EA can be at school spirit. We excel the one thing Salvadorans do best: celebration.


Post a Comment

<< Home