This past week we found ourselves with a day off from teaching at Pacca, an alternancia, or alternating overnight school, where girls attend classes in two-week segments with their grade and then return home for two weeks to work with their families. Pacca is in the rural town of Izcuchaca, which lies about 45 minutes outside of Cusco. In place of classes for this particular week, we were invited to the school’s day-long festivities for their Colegio, or school, anniversary. Colegio Pacca opened in 2004 and this was a celebration of the school’s eighth year of promoting growth in three primary realms: academic, professional and personal. We knew that a great amount of preparation was going toward the event and we were looking forward to the celebrations at Pacca in the days leading up to the anniversary.
The festivities began with a procession from a nearby church. Pacca’s anniversary coincided with a religious holiday called Virgen de la Natividad. It was a celebration of both exciting events on the same day, involving both townspeople and Pacca students and teachers!
The procession was followed by the provision of an extensive amount of food. Parents of the girls led the cooking and meal tickets were sold as a fundraiser for the school. The meals included deliciously seasoned roast chicken, stuffed peppers, pasta, potatoes and more. We were stuffed to the brim after lunch!
The highlight of the day was watching our students perform in one of three traditional dances. The 1st graders wore more modest-looking white dresses with multi-colored hats and ribbons. They performed a dance called mestiza colacha.
The 2nd and 3rd graders wore long, bright green and orange skirts and carried spears as a dancing prop. The style of their dance was called tobas.
Then the 4th and 5th graders rounded out the performances with a very colorful dance called morenada. These girls definitely looked the part of the oldest of the bunch—their costumes were the flashiest with sequins, high-heeled boots, and feather hats.
It was really fun for us to see all of our students dressed up, looking more like young women than young girls. We are so used to seeing them in their everyday clothes, getting dirty on the grassy field during sports class. It was a treat to see them performing in a completely different capacity, in front of their friends and family!