Festival, Waterfalls, and Bed Sheets full of Potatoes.

The school I work at here in Ecuador has a very high percentage of indigenous students. The majority of my male students wear the long braided hair and classic white linen pants with their uniform every day, while the girls have their long skirts and frilly white sleeves under their school sweater vests.

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Luis Ulpiano de la Torre, the school, has been working very hard this year to try to include aspects of the indigenous culture into some of the school pride. Meaning that the native language is being taught, we celebrate national native language day, and we try to have festivals for some of the important indigenous holidays as well. One of which being Pawkar Raymi, a celebration on the first day of spring.

Our school is lucky enough to be the place of a pretty sacred indigenous sit in Otavalo. If you take a path behind the school for 3-4 minutes, you will find yourself at a small waterfall next to a river that is used by the native Ecuadorians for ceremonial purposes. This year, on the first day of spring, our 5th grade class participated in a traditional Pawkar Raymi ceremony. The young girls and one boy preformed a dance for Pawkar Raymi and the students, teachers, and families participated in the tradition of sharing of food.

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A large white sheet was laid across the ground and every person at the ceremony came forward to throw a bowl of food down onto the sheet. Mainly potatoes, corn, beans, and a bit of chicken. Food was placed until no more could fit. It was all mixed together and re-passed out. Anything that could hold food was being eaten off of. Plastic bags, old tupperware, and mugs. There was more than enough food to go around.

To my knowledge, this was the second Raymi celebration our school has hosted this year and I think it has become one of our new traditions. The students had a ball and it was refreshing to see them dedicated to somethings within the school. They truly felt represented this week and that can do wonders for a student’s sense of pride in their culture, the school, and their education.

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