Thursday, October 1, 2009

the grand fiesta

With all the noise going on, you may have already heard: today marks the first of four full days of festivities here at the UAC-CP.

The annual fiesta, which grows bigger and bigger every year, celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the College. This year we celebrate 16 years of serving Bolivia's rural sector through higher education!

Ecotourism classmates wait for the relay runners to arrive at Campus Leahy. The festival starts Wednesday evening with a relay run from the Puerta del Viento--a well-recognized notch in the mountain above the College.

The olympic-esque tradition dates back to the day when the College had just barely enough people to make one or two soccer teams. They competed in the Inter-UACs--fending off against their peers at the other four UACs* located on Bolivia's high plain. But as the UAC-Carmen Pampa started to grow rapidly and successfully, it was decided that there were plenty of talented athletes, musicians, dancers, actors, etc. right here in Carmen Pampa.

An Education student watches a futsal game.

Today, with an average student body population of 700 students, there are plenty of willing and able competitors. Identified by the color of their t-shirts, the name on their flag, and the rhythm of their cheer, students in Nursing, Agronomy, Ecotourism, Veterinary Science, Education, and Pre-University participate in a variety of events: sports, dancing, poetry, chess, singing, etc.

While students busy themselves with events, UAC-CP administrators work behind the scenes--preparing lunch for everyone. When I walked down to the 25 de Mayo food cooperative this morning, faculty and staff were busy toasting rice, peeling carrots, and cutting potatoes. "We have 800 potatoes to prepare," I overheard someone call out. It takes a lot of potatoes to feed 700 active young people!

Andres Pardo, Director of the UAC-CP's Education Department, and Jose Luis Beltran, Director of the UAC-CP's Agronomy Department, prepare peas for today's lunch.

The festival will end on Sunday with the entrada--a parade of traditional, large-group dances that will weave its way down to the village of Carmen Pampa and finish on the College's soccer field. Administrators, students, and graduates will all be on hand to celebrate together!

By the time Sunday evening arrives, the winners will have been awarded, the cheering will have died down, and the flags and banners and costumes will have been put away. Students will be exhausted from multiple days of giving it their all. And on Monday we'll go back to "normal" as we continue on with our mission and work to serve through higher education.

*There are four other Unidad Académica Campesina colleges. They are financed and managed entirely independent of the UAC-Carmen Pampa.

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