November Update

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A few weeks ago, we decided to hold a “Survivor Day” in each of our schools. We molded it after the reality TV series and held eight competitions between the girls that tested a variety of athletic, coordination, and endurance skills. Although in the TV show the participants are divided into two competing groups, we thought it would be a good exercise to instead have the girls compete individually.
On our first test-run of the competition at our school Santoni, when we gathered the girls in close and explained that we would be holding our own version of Survivor—“like the TV show”, we explained—we were met with blank stares. “No entiendo”, one said, probably thinking that something had once again been lost in translation from the American profesoras.

While many of the girls have seen American television programs, it seems that this one in particular didn’t make it into their households. After quickly confirming that no one indeed had any idea what the TV show “Survivor” was, we tried a different approach at explaining our plan.

“Imagine that this entire playground is a thick, wild jungle. We have all just been dropped off on this deserted island, and to see who can survive the longest we are going to test your skills and endurance in eight different challenges. The winners of each event will receive a certain number of points, and at the end we’ll tally them up to see who is the winner.” The girls started to smile and giggle, some squeezing the arms of their friends in excitement.

“Those people over there,” we continued, pointing to a group of high-school boys playing soccer on the other half of the small gravel field, “they don’t exist”. “They are just trees!” one girl blurted out. With the girls pepped up for the competition at hand, we explained our first test: an endurance competition to see who could stand on one foot for the longest time possible—with eyes closed. As we are also trying to promote teamwork and good sportsmanship among the group, we lastly explained that the girl who demonstrated the best spirit and teamwork would receive an extra three points at the final tally—the equivalent of winning first place in one of the competitions.

Over the course of the next hour-and-a-half, we held running relays, a hula-hoop competition, and a volley contest. For the last competition, to lighten the mood and to take off some of the competitive edge, we had a smiling contest. Here, girls were paired up to face one another. They had to stare directly into one another’s eyes, and the first girl to smile was eliminated.

What we liked most about this day was that some of the girls who are not normally star athletes were also able to win competitions and gain points. In the end, the girl who we crowned “Survivor” demonstrated not just sheer athletic ability but also tenacity and team spirit.

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