Pintando La Parva: Afterschool art classes at La Parva school. Viña del Mar, Chile.
The big exciting news that I mentioned in my previous post? Last Monday, the school filled up with teachers, administrators, and students wearing their uniforms. The past week has been so overwhelming, and so gratifying. After over seven weeks of being on strike, the union of public school teachers accepted that their demands would not be met. I stand witness to the frustration and disappointment of many Chileans– so much time and energy was poured into their movement, and the fact that the essential problems remain unsolved sets a grim precedence for equitable education in Chile´s future. Even as these thoughts swirled through my mind, I could not help but feeling a deep sense of relief. The students of La Parva and returning to normalcy, and that is a beautiful thing. As predicted, my project has accelerated and grown considerably in the past week. I´m feeling overwhelmed and overjoyed.
We held two mural workshops last week. Both were attended by over ten students (including two new ones, and some younger siblings). Tomorrow we will put our first marks on the walls, based on the paintings we just finished.
On Thursday, we achieved a major accomplishment. The art teacher, Belen, and I, took the students on a field trip to Valparaiso. Valpo (that´s what the cool locals call it) is right next to Vina– kind of like Minneapolis to Saint Paul. Valpo is world famous for its street art, and though Vina is close by, it feels like a different world. I rented a bus (only to have it cancel the night before), got a friend who works in catering to make us lunch, and begged everyone to turn in their permission slips on time. I´ve never been put in charge of 15 teenagers, and I´ve definitely lead a field trip anywhere. Thanks to my wonderful team, and my wonderful students I can say that we pulled it off beautifully. We walked through the hills of Valparaiso all day, and though it was cold and threatening rain, we stayed warm and dry.
A few beautiful coincides made the experience special. Firstly, as a we walked down a mural-filled street, we stumbled upon a couple of Belen´s college friends, working on preparation for a giant mural. After getting a great example of what a large-scale mural looks like in process, we went to a the house of another friend of Belen so that the students could use the bathroom. It turns out that he is also an artist, and was working on a large sketch to eventually paint his own mural.
This week I also met with first through fourth grade teachers to plan the workshops I will carry out in their classes for the next three weeks. Things are feeling hectic, but I’m happy to finally be making progress.