Saturday, October 24, 2009

Folklore Day

A few weeks ago, the elementary school has their Folklore Day. Folklore day here is somewhat similar to the Dia Tipico's that we had in Honduras, but it did have some differences. To start, a little history is needed to understand Paraguayan schooling. For most people in the country, Spanish is not their first language, Guarani is. Guarani is the name of the traditional indians that lived in Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Argentina when the Spanish took over.

Outside of the big cities, Guarani is the main language of the country. Jesse and I hear Guarani being spoken almost daily by our guard and our maid. However, during the 1930's and 40's, Guarani was viewed as an inferior language, and therefore was banned in the nation's schools. Sometime in the 1970's (my dates may be a bit off) the government realized what a diservice it was doing to its youth, and now, every student has to take a Guarani class as part of their education. It is still viewed as a campesino language, a poor person's langauge, so many of our students don't value the language or its culture.

Fast forward to today, and as a part of the elementary school Guarani program at our school, they have a Folklore Day. This is where each grade level is taught a traditional dance and they wear traditional clothing as well. The girls wear traditional colored skirts, and wear fake hair braids to give the illusion of long hair. The boys wore gaucho clothing with a traditional belt, and the 5th grade boys also got to carry a guompa (my spelling may be off) to simulate a machete to harvest crops with.

The celebration is held for the parents to come and watch, with announcements made in three languages- Guarani, Spanish, and English. As it is the 5th graders last year dancing for Folklore Day, they got to do an extra dance to celebrate. Teachers were also asked to participate, although for my first year, I chose to sit out and just observe the celebration.

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