Sunday, December 16, 2012


**Warning, this post is a little old, but I feel the need to post about our Kindergarten graduation this year in response to the terrible events in Connecticut this week. I dedicate this post to the fallen and their families and cast it as a reminder to treasure our children for they are our future and we owe it to them to keep them safe. To the kids around the globe struggling to go to school- keep going, learning and growing, and keep making us proud. Hopefully, we will turn these events around and make you proud too. This is a call to action, adults, in the name of our kids so that they may graduate not only Kindergarten but high school, college, and go on to make this world a better place.

Here in El Salvador the school year ends in the middle of November culminating in the graduation ceremonies for kindergarten and ninth grade (as well as high school in the main towns). This was my first year being a part of the graduation ceremonies in Upire since last year I was in San Vicente going through my second round of training.

Graduation resembles a lot of the formal events here in El Salvador. A lot of people show up really dressed up in their Sunday best, there is a long, pretty boring program, and a big lunch to follow (for the important people, like me J). I had the pleasure of sitting at the “Mesa de Honor” or special people table for ninth grade and kindergarten graduation, so it did make it somewhat more special for me than the usual events.

The kindergarten graduation took place first on November 13th and I was asked to be the “Madrina,” which is basically just someone who is an “honorable” guest at the ceremony, sits at the honor table and hands out the diplomas, and typically buys each graduate a small gift. So instead of my usual Peace Corps wear, I put on my Sunday best (an amazing dress I had made by a seamstress (my host aunt)), straightened my hair, and sat at the special table. During the ceremony I gave a small speech about learning to read and write, then they presented the other Madrina and myself with a diploma of honor, we handed out diplomas as the kids graduated, and at the end I gave each kid a small gift (t-shirt). It was a small, entertaining ceremony, especially because the little ones are just so darling in over the top cute outfits and they also performed a few songs that were just too precious to describe adequately. Afterwards, I had lunch with the other special guests, the kids had cake provided by the other Madrina, and we were all home relaxing by 1:30 p.m.

Here is the ceremony in pictures: 

Handing out Diplomas 

Can you really expect them to spell Albrecht right? ;)

Dancing Ninos!!!

The following Monday was the ninth grade graduation ceremony, which was huge (more people at one event than I have ever seen in Upire, except for maybe the day the market opened) and a little bit longer (but not as long as I anticipated). For this event I was not anything special with a title, but I still had the pleasure of sitting at the honor table. I still had to put on a formal dress (another one made by my host aunt), straighten my hair, and put on make up (such a rarity J). But, I was Don Brian’s beautiful ;) escort. Brian was actually the “Nominada” of the ceremony, which is basically the honored guest who gives a longer speech and usually (but not required) gives each of the kids a gift. Brian gave a short, but sweet and funny speech and bought each of the kids a wonderful gift (a monogrammed towel and a picture frame with pictures of each kid).

The ceremony was simple. The school director spoke to the graduates, their professor, Brian gave his speech, a student gave a “thank you speech” on behalf of her class, and then the ninth graders performed a song as a way of saying goodbye. Afterwards, we had another big lunch with all of the guests of honor.

More pictures:

That wraps the end of the school year. I’ll admit I am ready for the tranquility of December. Everything is about to shut down and go into vacation mode, including myself ( I might actually already be there). Although, I am spending my birthday and this Christmas in my site in Upire, I am going to Nicaragua right after the holidays. I am definitely a little bit sad about missing Christmas at home with my family and friends (actually really sad, I LOVE XMAS TIME), but I know deep down I need to give Upire one Christmas.

P.S. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving! I sure did. I got to enjoy it from the comforts of a beautiful embassy home with a wonderful American Navy family. I enjoyed all the fixings of American Thanksgiving and left super, squeaky clean after a hot shower—it was glorious. Enjoy the holidays.