The Los Nogales Saga

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I’m sitting in my favorite restaurant after English class, as I do every Monday, excited to see what the menú is for the day. The board reads, “Salchicha de Pollo,” and although it’s not my favorite dish, it still does the trick to get me energized and ready for class. Twenty minutes later, we’re sitting outside, baking in the sun, ready for all the girls to show up so we can start classes. Yet, with the anniversary of Los Nogales’ founding so close, the teachers take away the sixth graders to practice as much as possible. And, with a few girls who were “going home for a minute,” we were left with a three girls. Five, if you count the two adorable second graders trying to mimic our every move to the side.

 

I couldn’t tell if it was the disappointment from so few girls showing or if my stomach was actually going to explode, but I had to sit out of warm-ups and drills – something I never do. I wasn’t feeling particularly well and minutes later I would learn that the salchicha de pollo really didn’t mix well with my stomach that day. Support from the girls and the profes, fluids, and sleep made up the rest of my day.

 

And that was only Monday. How I would survive a jam-packed week of festivities was beyond me.

 

The week picked up significantly after the bad case of food poisoning. Tuesday after class, we took a cab back to Los Nogales to help them celebrate the anniversary. We hardly recognized our girls when they were dressed in traditional clothing from head-to-toe, but it was easier to point them out once we heard “PROFESORA” and felt them jump onto our backs.

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The reunion was short-lived, as they needed to prepare for their dances. By 8pm, all of our students had danced, and it was time for their parents to suit up and perform the same version of the dance that they had likely done when they were in colegio. Watching the multi-generational tradition unfold before our eyes was beautiful, and we felt so fortunate to be part of such a welcoming community.

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The religious part of the celebration took place the next morning. We watched proudly from the sidelines as our chicas in fifth grade took part in their first communion! Shortly after, we were invited to celebrate with hot chocolate and bread, all while watching each grade do traditional dances. This time, after a night of rehearsal, it was flawless; no errors with starting the music, no missing pieces of wardrobe, and even more show than the night before.

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[The sixth graders covered the audience with shaving cream.]

 

Although it started off a little rocky, it was a great week with Los Nogales, and we feel even more part of the school! We cherished the extra two days we had to meet their families and get to know them outside of class. Next stop? The teachers want us to dance at their next celebration… stay tuned for that!

 

-Alika