Despedida

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It’s 1:09 a.m.

 

We just got home from our students’ despedida, the ceremony at which they celebrate graduating sixth grade.

 

The event was held at a hall near the school and we arrived 45 minutes late, which really translated to being two hours early in typical Cusco fashion. The DJ read off their names, hobbies, best friends, and aspirations for life. Our personal favorite was for one of our girls who had written, “I like all the fruits except the ones that are too big to fit in my mouth.” We especially loved that almost all of our girls listed and named their favorite sports.

 

There were multiple choreographed dances, starting with the entire class’ waltz to Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” followed by parents joining in to dance with their child. After more dances and a few inspirational speeches by parents and the Director, the food arrived at around 10 p.m. It was around this time that we finished writing all our cards to the girls and made rounds to let all the girls and their parents know that we had something special we wanted to give them before they left. One dad helped us gather all the girls and their parents, and we assembled in a huddle out in the main hallway. We explained how amazing this year has been for us, how much the girls mean to us, how much we will miss them all, and how we wished them all the best as they enter this next phase of their life. Then we called each girl to come up and get her cards and, of course, a hug from the Profes, as the others all clapped.

 

Once our small ceremony was over, the two of us went back into the main room to grab our things and head home. What we encountered next was something that they call hora loca or “crazy hour” in which four clowns in face paint and wild outfits come running in and hand balloons, masks, and whistles to everyone. Immediately everyone was out of their seats jumping and dancing on the floor around the circle of newly graduated sixth graders. A beautiful chaos ensued as family members paraded around, jumping to the beat, in conga lines around their kids. Needless to say, we couldn’t leave.

 

We stayed for an hour more and finally said our last goodbyes around 12:30 a.m. While it was sad to end the year and say goodbye to this super strong class of girls, we know that we will stay in touch with them, and we are looking forward to watching them grow in the future. The girls even mentioned their willingness to stay involved, like having a Chicas Dinámicas alumni day where they come visit and tell our new students what they are doing post graduation.

 

The whole cab ride back was silent as we were processing the entire semester with our girls. It’s safe to say that we are both sad at the idea of missing pieces of our family at the start of the next semester with Chicas Dinámicas, but grateful that we even have people we can call our family here in Cusco. The wise Winnie the Pooh said it best, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

 

We couldn’t agree more.

 

Thank you Chicas Dinámicas and all our family here in Cusco for giving us a home away from home.

 

 

Lydia and Alika

 

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[Us with one of our star chicas, Luz]