Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Take Me to the Feria

Text by Elizabeth Barnes and photos by Lily Bodinson

Xela is covered in blue and white flags, streamers, and balloons this week for Día de Independencia on September 15. Parque Central is already hung with huge banners, stages are going up all over the city for concerts, and the streets will fill with parades and parties.

At Pop Wuj we're planning to explore Xela's annual feria as a group of students, teachers, and staff this evening. But the real party happened last week at our mini feria at the Family Support Center.

As always we started with a short civic ceremony. It is a historic holiday! The kids had prepared decorations for the stage featuring Guatemala's national flower (la monja blanca, or white nun), tree (the ceiba), and bird (the quetzal, of course!) as well as its flag and coat of arms. Our best performing students had the honor of carrying the flags of Guatemala and Xela to the front, which they executed with much gravitas to the traditional march "La Granadera."

Sixth grader Maria had the highest average at the FSC. We are so proud of her and of all our hard-working students! 
We followed with the national anthem and "Luna de Xelajú." (Carmen commented before the ceremony that a singer lamenting the beautiful woman who abandoned him is not the most appropriate subject, but hey, it's better than "That spells Dallas, where every home's a palace.")

The Guatemalan himno (national anthem) has a lot of words. We were impressed by the elite singers who knew all of them!
Carmen Rosa followed with a presentation about the significance of Independence Day in Llanos del Pinal, which the Spanish attacked en route to Xela in 1524, and we played a recording of a lovely poem about Santa Maria by a local writer.

Though well behaved, the kids had a hard time concentrating knowing that games awaited them outside.

Former Pop Wuj student Jeremy managed to pull himself up the backyard wall to hang our payaso (clown)...and then climbed up again to take the clown down when we realized it was going to rain! What a good sport.
At long last, Carmen unleashed the kids on the games. They tore out of the room so fast that they beat all the volunteers to their stations!

Wilson throws a beanbag through the clown's mouth as his peers queue behind him. Each game winner received a ticket that they could reimburse for a premio (prize) -- you could spot winners because they were sprinting back to the prize table inside!
Moms were welcome to play too! Surama owned bowling even with a baby on her back. Should've won double tickets.
Pop Wuj volunteers ran a beanbag toss through the clown face, a coin flipping game, foosball, bottle knockdown, and bowling, while Carmen presided over lotería (similar to bingo). In addition to games and prizes, we enjoyed traditional feria snacks and drinks prepared by FSC moms.

FSC moms gather around the food table to begin uncovering and distributing everything. We love getting to see FSC family members outside monthly FSC/scholarship meetings!
2-year-old Andrea had a blast at her first feria.
The last of us straggled out of the FSC at 7 p.m. after hours of festivities. Everyone had a blast, played dozens of games, won a ton of prizes, got messy, and wore ourselves out. Good thing we had the weekend to recover before Xela's official feria opened!

Ilcy is the most photogenic person ever to be born. Also, Lily is an unbelievable photographer.
 Many thanks to the Pop Wuj volunteers who staffed our games and to the moms who provided our wonderful food. ¡Feliz Día de Independencia a todos!

Did you know that Pop Wuj now has an Instragram, run by the same talented photographer who took the pictures for this post? Check us out @popwuj!