Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So April is quickly coming to an end, which means I’ll soon have completed 5 months here in Tomas. Time is going fast, and I’m enjoying my time here. Since my last update I’ve gone to the jungle (Holy Week) and been working a lot in the schools. Today, though, is a very special day. Since 1970, April 22nd has been recognized as Earth Day, and being an environmental volunteer it was the perfect chance to do something big here in Tomas.
Yesterday and today we had workshops with all three levels of schools in Tomas, Kindergarten, Elementary, and High School. Workshops involved activities such as drawings, discussions, High Schoolers watching part of the BBC series Plant Earth, and each grade/student making an environmental awareness sign for the main even, the pasacalles.
Pasacalles, literally meaning “street passing”, was our big event that brought all three schools and the teachers into the community. Each student or sometimes group of students had a sign about some environmental issue, and we paraded around Tomas for a little over 30 minutes. The event included many (unplanned) chants such as, “Queremos agua limpia!” (meaning, “We want clean water!”), and part of the high school band played as we walked. The event culminated with all students and many community members in the Plaza for a few short speeches.
One of these speeches, as it turns out, was given by me. I was unaware of this before the event started, but as Professor Fredy announced to the crowd to give a round of applause for our friend Jared, I had to think quick about what to say. It is one thing to give an impromptu speech in front of a small group, but it is another to give an impromptu speech in from of the good majority of a town…and in Spanish. The situation was made a little more difficult being that I had to follow two teachers who had already said all the most important things about Earth Day. Professor Fredy even went on a rant about the mines contaminating our river. It was quite the act to follow.
I ended up thanking the kids for their participation and challenging everyone to talk about what Earth Day means with their families and neighbors. I also tried to be encouraging by saying that we can overcome the environmental problems that we have in Tomas. I think my brief message was well received, I just hope that I didn’t say anything with exceptionally poor grammar or the wrong words to make me look dumb. If I did, oh well, it was a new experience.
Earth Day is an important day, and it does have a lot of importance here in Tomas. With all the commotion we had with the Pasacalles, people will be talking about this event for weeks. They might even talk about how “Ya-red” (that’s me, in Spanish) gave a speech. Hopefully it can be a springboard into action here in Tomas. The day was a success, which I hope we can continue into the future.

Kindergarten. Some of my favorite students in all of Tomas. It is hilarious when they try and say my name.

Second grade, nicely in line, followed by the masses of older kids.

This little guy sure was excited abuot not contaminating the environment!

Very creative Earth Day wear...quite the hat.

1 comment:

Mark Forsberg said...

Quiero agua limpa también - I have none at the moment. I'd love to take a shower, wash my hands, etc. These are the challenges.

Sounds like Earth Day was a hit. I love those impromptu speeches. No matter the topic, they usually start: Me llamo Marcos. Soy de los estados unidos en el estado de Minnesota. Hay mucho frio alla.