24 June 2010
After much planning and bracelet making, 15 girls from Wisconsin, along with their exchange counterparts from a high school in Bogotá, showed up in two large buses, complete with police escort. After running up part of the hill to catch a ride the rest of the way to the upper school, we climbed aboard the buses. We started with a presentation of the school, emphasizing the role of outside influence and participation which is so integral to the model. Then the kids put on a show. Two of the graduates of the school are professional hip hop dancers now and they come back once a week to teach break dancing to a bunch of the older boys. Both groups are pretty amazing! I was floored by how talented they were, as were all of the girls that came to visit. We played some games, handed out snack and gave them some time to interact. This, of course, was interesting as the mingling was occurring between a group that spoke little Spanish and a group that spoke even less English. People kept running up to me for translation help so they could all get to know each other better!
I talked to some of the American girls, who assured me that this was by far their favorite part of the trip. I mentioned that I thought that the whole experience was really awesome. There is definitely a difference between visiting a South American country in a nice neighborhood and taking a bus with a police escort into a notoriously insecure neighborhood to spend the day with kids that are way less fortunate that you are. The whole day was an awesome experience, exemplifying the fact that people from different countries and socio-economic groups can always find something in common and can form bonds with each other. The kids also started the mosaic that we built together. And, for that, we there will always be a memory of these American girls coming to visit.