Niños Musicales

On Saturday we made a successful trip to a children's music festival sponsored by the Guatemalan NGO Casasito in the Spanish Embassy of Antigua. This being my last week, it was nice to interact with the students outside the small confines of Semillero and provide them with a creative and educational weekend activity.

After rounding up the kids in Santa Ana in the morning, we walked into Antigua. What normally is a 20 minute walk was of course doubled. But, eventually, we arrived at the city center, rapidly transitioning from the impoverished homes of Santa Ana to the upscale, colonial shops and hotels of Antigua. The kids were overwhelmed by the elaborate festival with a multitude of stations and activities in which all resources were free. It was complete with dance, art, performances, and crafts.

They were mesmerized by the break dancers twirling in the air and eagerly drafted song lyrics for the prompt, “a better world.” They pulled the shirts off their backs to have them silkscreened by an artist in front of their very eyes and each tried out the instruments on display. We explored the museum filled with art of all mediums, including “Peliculas!” which the kids were very enthused by. (They were short films playing in a dark theater that made them feel like they were in a real movie theater-- something very exotic and luxurious.) Then we stopped by a tent offering a workshop for each of them to make their own tambourines out of wire and bottle caps. And between each of these activities were student group performances taking place on the main stage—from rapping to sign language, they had quite a diverse program.

When given the resources and encouragement the kids’ potential became apparent in their curiosity and enthusiasm. And quickly, the typical trouble-makers of the clan were peaceful and engaged when offered a creative activity. It was exciting to see the kids in such a stimulating atmosphere—quite the contrast from their slow, mischief-seeking days in Santa Ana.

Upon leaving the festival we took the kids for pizza as a little treat for their positive participation in the day’s activities. They fought over their food, which was not surprising since they’re young kids. But in the desperate way they fought, it was also implicit that they don’t always have enough food, and so such an opportunity had to be exploited to its fullest. It was a bit disconcerting but we were glad to provide a day’s hearty meal for them.

Walking home became a bit chaotic. Somehow the pizza energy was converted into mischief as they ran through the streets. But after an hour-long walk home we returned them, uninjured, to the quiet streets of Santa Ana, making sure each one checked in with their parents, who were working around town. Overall, it was a successful trip that offered a break from their usual days in Santa Ana and provided a fun bonding experience in my last week here.

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