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On July 10th, my liceo had an acto (assembly) to celebrate the end of the first semester. (For those of you wondering how I remember the date so clearly, it's because I looked at the date stamp on the photos I took. Clever, I know).


Before I even begin, I need to state that this was the best assembly I have been to yet! It was well-organized and well-executed. It was not too long or too short. It had an appropriate mix of business protocol (awards, announcements, etc) and performances. Also, as everyone walked in, there was movie soundtrack music playing. I walked in feeling literally like a super hero. Epic!


The director (principal) gave a speech. Like always, he told a story from his childhood, in order to relate to the students...He is young and he is new at this leadership role, but he is a fantastic writer. I normally find his discourses enjoyable, but this one knocked all others out of the park! He spoke about finding inspiration and focusing on your values in order to make decisions and he spoke about working hard to achieve your goals. He articulated the importance of education in one's journey to success, noting that it is something one can always carry with them. I almost cried by the time he finished speaking. What impacted me more than his actual words, however, was the complete reflection and focus shared by all. As I looked around, there was not a single student poking a friend or giggling at a classmate. Literally everyone in the school was listening to what the director had to say. An entire gymnasium filled with teenagers 7th through 12th grade. That's impressive!


Later, awards were distributed to the top students in each curso (class) for the semester and to the most esforzado (most hard-working students). I was asked to give the esforzado award to the 7º y 8º students. They were so nervous when I handed them the award with a hug and the traditional beso. They awkwardly walked away as my host mom tried to take a picture, which I later discovered was too dark to even salvage...It was a nice feeling to be part of the ceremony in that way.


Among the student performances was a group of my kids playing a cover of a Victor Heredía song "Razón de vivir" (it's a beautiful song and I actually think I like their version better than the original), and one of my 1ºA girls singing "Someone Like You" by Adele. There were a few pronunciation errors, but overall she sounded great. I was overwhelmed with emotion, due to pride in my students' accomplishments over the semester and the fact that my freshman was singing in English in front of the school...I almost cried. Again.


That evening, we came back to the liceo to give a shortened version of the assembly for the parents. But instead of students getting awarded, the parents got awards for being involved and for participating in their version of the PTA.


Since I don't do a lot with the parents at the school, I took the opportunity to bond more with the music kids who were there to perform. They were so excited for me to take photos of them with their instruments. A former band-geek, myself, it was comforting to relate to them in a way outside of "everyday" school activities. I know that they enjoyed this connection as well, especially since their music teacher isn't the most progressive or educational soul... I helped them take apart the drum set and the microphones and we talked. I realized then how much I miss making music. It was such a big part of my life growing up, and it's been so long since I've played. I don't miss clarinet, however. I feel strangely disconnected from it now. I need to find another instrument. I need to be a part of a musical group again.


What can we gain from this post? A realization of how quickly time passes. I have been here for half of an academic year and the second half will pass even quicker (with holidays in every month). I have no time to waste. I have to make the most of what time I have. This doesn't apply solely to me. This goes for everyone, doing everything. Take pride in what you do and embrace what's around you. If you can't, something needs to be changed.


(this is what a typical convivencia looks like...leave it to the kids to bring "dishes to pass")


(they push all of the desks together and cover them with table cloths, like one big table to share at)


(at the acto after the convivencia...students and teachers waiting for the show to begin)


(there was a dance number performed by several of the liceo's finest dancing chicas)


(students and the director with their awards)


(Several of the teachers and I looking fancy in our assembly attire...my host mom found her niece's old dress pants in the closet and insisted that I wear them because it is necessary to wear dress pants when you present an award. Also, the two teachers on the end are notably pale. By comparison, I look like a sack of flour.)


(los guitarristas antes del acto apoderado...the assembly for the parents that evening) 


(didn't know him before this evening, but he is now one of my biggest fans) 




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